So the lasagne plating of this dish was a bit of a fail, but I know why, and I think I know what I need to do to make sure it doesn’t flop next time I attempt this dish. What I ended up with tho is an almost perfectly balanced appetiser in terms of falvours; freshness, richness, sweetness, sourness… very very nice.
The intention was to make a lasagne that uses Zucchini slices instead of pasta sheets, and an onion lemon filling instead of traditional bolognesish fillings. The problem with the plating only happened at the end when trying to use ring molds to get the individual portions out of the baking dish. Using a very sharp knife and opting for square instead round portions will go along way in ensuring the portions maintain their integrity.
So onto the recipe!
Serves 5 appetizer portions with plenty of leftovers (hide them from your guests; otherwise they WILL be eaten)
For the Lasagne:
6-8 Medium sized Zucchinis
2 1/2 lemons, seeds removed and chopped into small pieces
2 1/2 tomatoes, seeded with skins removed and chopped roughly
3/4 of a large yellow onion
2 tbsp of butter
1 tsp of chopped fresh thyme
1/2 glass dry white wine
1 tsp of sugar
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
For the Creme Fraiche:
200g container of creme fraiche
2-3 tbsp of truffle infused grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
freshly ground black pepper to season
Zucchinis have bucketloads of moisture, and unless you want a runny mushy soup, you have to drain them of the moisture first. So, take 6-8 medium-sized zucchinis and slice them on the 3.5mm setting of the mandolin (unless you have ninja knife skills and can do it manually, in which case i bow in deference) there should be enough zucchini slices to cover your small baking dish 3 times over. To drain the slices, place them in colander and sprinkle well with salt. Toss the slices to make sure they’re well coated with the brine and then let stand for 15-20 mins. Toss again and let stand again for another hour or so.
While the zucchinis are draining, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees c and start to work on the fillings. Heat the butter in a wide pan along with a couple of lugs of olive oil, once the foam subsides, and on a medium heat, toss in the onions and the lemons. Sautee over a medium heat until both are cooked through, softened and lose their sharpness but not browned, about 5-7 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the wine, the sugar and time and mix until all are incorporated, let it simmer until reduced to a thick paste consistency. Take off the heat and pour the contents in a mixing bowl, add the tomatoes and gently mix everything together. Add salt and pepper to season, however, make sure the mix is under-salted on account of the zucchinis, mozzarella and parmesan
Now it’s time to assemble your lasagne, pour some oil to grease up the bottom of your baking dish, and lay in the zucchini slices to cover the bottom of the plate (should be about a third of the total amount). Spoon over and spead about half the filling from the bowl, making sure the layer doesn’t exceed about 1cm to maintain the overall balance of flavour. Sprinkle the filling with half the mozzarella and repeat the process to make a second layer. Once you’ve finished the 2nd layer, throw the pine nuts all over, and cover with the last 1/3 of zucchini slices, cover the final zucchini layer with the parmesan and stick in the oven until the parmesan is nice and golden brown, about 15-17mins.
While the lasagne is in the oven, in a small bowl mix the truffle oil and the creme fresh and season with the pepper. Put in freezer so that it can set a bit.
Take the lasagne out of the oven, allow to rest for a minute or two and them cut out (using your sharp paring knife) 6cmx6cm square portions. Once plated, using teaspoons make quenelles of the truffle cream and top each piece of lasagne with a quenelle. Garnish with any excess pine nuts and enjoy!