Tasty Thursday: Zucchini and Leek Lasagna

Happy Thursday, friends! And welcome back to Italy Week on my blog :). Today’s a special post, since I usually do my recipe posts on Tuesdays, but this week I have two recipes to share. Check out Tuesday’s post here. While we were in Florence, a few of us took a cooking class at the Cucina Lorenzo de’ Medici inside the Mercato Centrale. It was so much fun, and definitely a bucket list item!

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When we first arrived, we were given an apron and told to pick out a spot at one of the cooking stations. We found out what we’d be making – zucchini and leek lasagna – and the instructor started teaching us right away!

After orienting ourselves to our station and washing our hands, we began by first making the dough for our lasagna. Here’s the recipe for the dough:

Ingredients
1/2 pound all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Pinch kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Water

Directions

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and mix. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture. Place the eggs, extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon water in the well. Mix the egg mixture with a fork and slowly incorporate the flour until it becomes a ball of dough. The dough should be tacky, but not wet. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
While our dough was resting, we got to work on the rest of the ingredients for the lasagna. We started by making the Béchamel sauce. Béchamel is a white sauce made from a white roux and milk. Here’s the recipe for the sauce:

Directions: Bechamel
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden color, about 6 minutes.

Heat milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture a cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.

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Once the sauce was ready, we got to work on the leeks and zucchini. I’ve never been great at chopping vegetables, so it was cool to learn a few tips, like bending your fingers so your knuckles are holding the vegetables to keep your finger tips safe from the knife blade. Seems like an obvious tip, right! How did I never know this?! We chopped up a whole zucchini into about quarter inch pieces, and the sliced the leek into thin slices. We also used the flower of the zucchini, removing the stamen, and chopping the petals into tiny pieces as well.

I had never used this before, but it add such an interesting flavor! And, as luck would have it, they were selling the flowers at my local farmer’s market when I got home, so I picked some up!

When that was done, we sautéed the leeks in a pan with extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until they became translucent, then we added the zucchini and continued to sauté for a few additional minutes.

After sautéing, we added the vegetables to the Béchamel sauce, and mixed it all together. We then folded in the zucchini flowers, so as to not break them apart too much.

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Next, it was time to roll out our pasta dough using a pasta roller! This was my first time using one of these machines and it was so cool.

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We used the machine to pass the dough through about six times until it was long and thin, then used a knife to cut it into the right size lasagna noodles we needed for our pan.

And then, it was time to build the lasagna! First step was to put a scoop of sauce in the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of Parmesan cheese. Then, we topped that with a noodle, then continued the process until we had three complete layers. The final step was to add one more scoop of sauce and cheese on top, and then it went into the oven at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.

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When it came out of the oven, we popped it out of the pan and onto a plate and it was lunch time! The lasagna was paired with a delicious white wine, that our instructor said is the most popular white wine in Italy, and I can definitely see why. It was perfect!

This was such a fun way to spend a morning in Italy, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!

Party on!
JW

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