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Recipe: Free-form zucchini lasagna with lemon-thyme cream

September 26, 2007
  • Thinly sliced zucchini alternates with sheets of fresh pasta moistened by lemon-thyme cream.
Thinly sliced zucchini alternates with sheets of fresh pasta moistened… (Robert Lachman / Los Angeles…)

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, plus resting time for the pasta dough

Servings: 4

3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting

Olive oil

1 egg

1 pound zucchini, about 3 medium

Salt

1/2 cup diced onion

3 tablespoons white wine

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup heavy cream

6 sprigs fresh thyme

Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1. Make fresh pasta dough by pulsing the flour and 4 teaspoons olive oil in a food processor. Add the egg and pulse until the dough forms a ball that rides around on the top of the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead until smooth and shiny; this should take only about a minute. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2. Roll the pasta dough very thin on a pasta machine, about a 6 setting on most machines, flouring as necessary. The sheets should be at least 4 inches wide. Cut the pasta sheets into squares, dust lightly with flour and set aside until ready to use.

3. Cook four or five pasta sheets at a time in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water. The pasta will be done when the sheets float to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and drain on a tea towel if using immediately, or transfer to a large bowl of water to store. Repeat using all of the pasta.

4. Heat a stove top or grill pan over medium-high heat. Trim the ends from the zucchini and slice lengthwise into strips about one-eighth-inch thick. In a large, shallow bowl, toss the zucchini with 3 tablespoons olive oil and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Place the zucchini strips on the grill and grill for about 2 minutes on each side, until the zucchini is softened and has defined grill marks. Set aside.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, garlic and thyme leaves and cook until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini strips and toss. Season to taste, then remove from heat and set aside.

6. In a small saucepan, simmer the cream over medium-low heat with thyme sprigs, lemon zest, one-half teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cook until the cream reduces slightly, about 10 minutes.

7. In a small bowl, beat together the ricotta, one-fourth teaspoon salt, garlic and parsley until mixed. (The dish can be prepared to this point at least 1 hour ahead of time. The zucchini and cream sauce can be held at room temperature. Cooked pasta sheets should be stored in a large bowl of water and drained and patted dry before using.)

8. Place the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour the cream sauce through a fine strainer over the pasta. Mix gently to lightly coat the pasta squares. Place one pasta square on an oven-proof plate and spoon about 3 tablespoons of ricotta in the center. Arrange a few strips of zucchini on top. Place another pasta square on top of that. Sprinkle with some of the remaining grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and scatter more zucchini over the top. Repeat with three more plates.

9. Place the plates on a cookie sheet and place in the oven to heat through, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 603 calories; 12 grams protein; 27 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 49 grams fat; 21 grams saturated fat; 162 mg. cholesterol; 706 mg. sodium.

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