Milk is the base for this creamy sauce that gives you a deliciously cheesy, yet light layered lasagne. Make a whole tray and enjoy the leftovers for quick and easy mid-week meals.
- 100 g butter
- 8 large brown onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 portion pasta dough (see Note)
- 1.2 litre full-cream milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 60 g butter
- 60 g plain flour
- 80 g grated fontina
- 50 g grated parmesan
- river salt and white pepper
- 40 g finely grated parmesan
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 100 g fresh peas, podded
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need a 28 cm x 24 cm tray for this recipe.
Place a large wide-based saucepan on a medium heat, add in the butter, letting it melt before adding the onions. Turn the heat to high and give the onions a vigorous stir, making sure they get nicely coated with the butter. Once the onion starts to sizzle, add the thyme, a generous amount of seasoning and turn the heat down to as low as it will go. You want to cook the onions right down until they are a caramel colour and look like they are completely melted. Stir occasionally so they don’t catch, being more vigilant as you get closer to the end, as that’s when they’ll stick. They will take about 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Get a large pot of salted water onto the boil, a wide and shallow pot being most preferable. Blanch the pasta sheets individually for a few minutes each, refreshing in iced water. Lay out each sheet between a dry cloth to soak up excess water and set aside. This step can be done up to a day in advance.
Place the milk in a pan with the bay leaf, bring it to the boil and then turn down the heat to very low. In a separate pan, on a medium heat, place the butter and flour and cook down together, stirring constantly until the mix is a light golden colour with a biscuity aroma. Slowly add the milk, ladle by ladle, stirring vigorously in between to fully incorporate. This is important because if you don’t take enough care here you will end up with lumps. Lumps are bad. Continue until all the milk is added, at which stage you should have a beautiful, pure white, thickish sauce. Remove from the heat, add in both the cheeses and a healthy amount of seasoning and stir until it’s all melted through.
To construct the lasagne, you will need to find a tray that will fit a whole pasta sheet snugly. Line your tray with baking paper and, on top of this, lay out a sheet of pasta. Spread a quarter of your fontina sauce over this, followed by a third of the onion mix. Repeat with the next two sheets of pasta. Lay the final sheet of pasta on top and carefully spread over the last of the fontina sauce and then sprinkle with the parmesan.
Place the tray of lasagne in a pre-heated oven at 180°C and cook for 15 minutes until the top is golden, remove from the oven.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock until it comes to the boil, add in the peas and gently simmer until cooked, adding a little seasoning.
To serve, scoop out portions of the lasagne onto plates and spoon over some peas and stock. Finish with a good drizzle of olive oil and an extra turn or two of black pepper.
• You will have 1 pasta sheet leftover. Cut into an appropriate size, layer between sheets of baking paper and freeze for later.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.
Plate from Koskela.