Friday, October 7, 2011

Sweet Corn and Mascarpone Lasagna

While I had a month off between switching jobs, I watched a lot of TV. Particularly, cooking shows and one of my faves is the lovely Giada DeLaurentiis. Not only do I find her recipes are often successful and delicious, but I just enjoy her show. It feels like I’m in the kitchen with her when she’s cooking and I also love the episodes where she is cooking for a party she is throwing with her friends or an outing with Jade. So, for this past round of cook club (check out everything that was made out of Plenty by Ottolenghi here!), I snuck in one of Giada’s dishes for our DC cook club party – her SWEET CORN LASAGNA that she made with her Aunt Raffy. It was the perfect dish to add in because all the other dishes were vegetarian.

The dish was a huge hit! As my friend Rachel said, it is the perfect dish to convince non-vegetarians that vegetarian food can be delicious and filling. It is a bit sweeter than your typical lasagna with the base of the dish consisting of sweet corn and mascarpone. I didn’t mind that at all. In fact, I taste-tested the corn mixture a few times to make sure it had enough seasoning and by the end, I could have just eaten the corn mixture by itself.

On another note, I had been concerned that it would be overly citrusy / lemony based on the reviews listed under the recipe, so I ended up zesting just half the lemon. The lemon notes definitely shine in this dish, but I thought it was a nice complement to the richness of the cheeses. I also forgot to completely thaw the corn before throwing it in the food processor, which turned out ok, just took a bit longer to whizz around.

Lastly, Giada made these lasagnas as “mini-lasagnas” in small ramekins – so, single serving lasagnas. Because I was making this for a crowd, I cooked this up in the traditional lasagna way in a lasagna pan. I used three layers of noodles (so four layers of sauce) and cooked initially for about 40 minutes, checked it, and cooked for probably another 10 minutes. I will definitely be making this again!

Sweet Corn and Mascarpone Lasagna (courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis with slight adaptations)

Butter, for ramekins
12 lasagna sheets
3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 cup whipping cream, at room temperature
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus 1/2 cup (2 ounces)
1/2 large lemon, zested
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp Provolone
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter lasagna pan. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain.

In a food processor, blend the corn, cream and garlic until chunky. Add the mascarpone, 1 cup of the Pecorino Romano cheese, the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until just combined.

Spoon some of the filling into the lasagna pan and spread enough to cover. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the provolone. Layer four lasagna noodles on top of the sauce and provolone.

Put another layer of filing on top of lasagna, making sure to cover all the noodles so they don’t get too dry in cooking. Add more provolone on top. Layer with four more lasagna noodles. Repeat once more.

On the top layer, spoon any remaining filling on top of the pasta. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Continue baking longer if necessary. Cool for 10 minutes.


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