3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, parsley, chives, basil,arugula
1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles
Fill a pastapot with water, and add the garlic cloves. Bring to a boil while you trim theasparagus by breaking off the woody ends. When the water comes to a boil, add salt to taste andthe asparagus ends. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover partially and simmer the asparagusends for 30 minutes. Remove the asparagus ends and the garlic cloves from the water anddiscard. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the asparagus stalks. Boil thick asparagus stalksfor five minutes, medium and thin stalks for three minutes. Transfer them, using a spider or tongs, to a bowl of ice water. Do not drain the cooking water. Allow the asparagus to cool for afew minutes, then drain and dry on a clean kitchen towel. If the asparagus stalks are thick, cut inhalf lengthwise first, then cut the asparagus (thick or thin) into 1-inch lengths. Set aside.
Whisk 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the asparagus into the béchamel, along with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the herbs. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and adjust salt.
Oil or butter a 3-quart baking dish or lasagna dish. Bring the water back to a rolling boil, anddrop in enough lasagna noodles to cover the surface of the baking dish (for my rectangular dish,that’s three lasagna noodles). Boil just until the pasta is flexible (about three minutes for no-boillasagna). Using tongs, transfer the pasta to a bowl of cold water, then drain on a clean dish towel.
Spread a very thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the dish. Cover with a layer of pasta.Stir the asparagus into the remaining béchamel, and spread a layer over the noodles. Sprinkleon 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Parboil another layer’s worth of pasta, and top with the asparagus béchamel, then with another 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Repeat with one more layer. End witha layer of pasta, and if you have any béchamel left, spread it over the top and sprinkle on theremaining Parmesan. Cover tightly with plastic if storing in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the lasagna, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling. Uncover, and continue to bake until the top just begins to color, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit five to 10 minutes, andserve.
You can make this up to a day or two before you bake it. Don’t drizzleon the last tablespoon of olive oil until you’re ready to bake. Wrap tightly in plastic andrefrigerate. Remove the plastic, and replace with foil before baking.
Nutritional information per serving:
Olive Oil Béchamel
The milk should be cold or at room temperature. If the liquid is too hot, the roux won’t have timeto properly disperse in the liquid before the mixture comes to a boil; this is what causes sauces tolump.