In our second recipe collection in the Theme & Variations series, I decided we should explore the lines and spaces of the musical staff to uncover what savory surprises we can experience when we use simple ingredients to create a masterpiece.
Lines & Spaces
For the final variation in our Lines & Spaces series, we’ll stick with our vegetarian motif, but throw a few new twists into the taste. Swapping out the greens with some colorful beans and aromatic veggies, next we’ll take out the familiar ricotta cheese and replace it with nutty, creamy fontina for a lasagna like no other.
KEY INGREDIENT: Fontina Cheese — Noted for its nutty, earthy, slightly mushroomy taste, this creamy cow’s milk cheese originally from Italy is right at home in a homespun vegetarian lasagna. You can find it in the fine cheeses case in your supermarket. The best Fontina is Fontina Val D’Aosta (the original fontina), but there are many makers of good fontina, so feel free to use what you like best and is easiest to find. Can’t find Fontina? Try shredding Raclette or thinly sliced Brie or Camembert for an equally cheesy experience.
Lasagna con Fagioli
Not quite as tomato-y or as saucy as the typical lasagna, the earthy flavors of the beans and fontina cheese are what really stand out to make this a vegetarian lasagna worth coming back to over and over again! Feel free to mix varieties of beans together for a more colorful presentation.
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped carrots (app. 2 medium)
1/3 cup finely chopped celery (app. 1 large rib)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup white wine (try sauvignon blanc)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
6 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
Preheat oven to 375-degrees. In a medium bowl, mash half beans together to form a thick paste. Reserve the mashed beans separately from the whole beans.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery; cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic, bay leaf, and thyme; cooking, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about a minute). Pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze; cook until wine has nearly evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes (including juices), bring to a simmer; lower heat, cover and cook 7-10 minutes until carrots are tender. Stir in the mashed beans and 1/3 cup water; stirring to dissolve thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat, discard bay leaf; stir in parsley, reserved whole beans, and salt and pepper to taste.
Spread 1/2 cup bean sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 lasagna noodles, a fourth of the sauce, and a fourth of the shredded fontina. Repeat layering with remaining noodles, sauce, and cheese. Loosely cover with parchment-lined foil (keeps the cheese from sticking to the foil!). Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly and delightfully browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then slice and serve.