Vegetarian Lasagna with Artichokes and Leeks
1/2 lb. dried lasagna noodles 2 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbl. olive oil
12 baby leeks, including 3 inches of green portion, or 5 large leeks, including 1 inch of
green, rinsed well and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Juice of 1 lemon
4 large or 20 baby artichokes
1/2 cup water
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups milk
3 Tbl. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1/2 lb. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water to cool and drain again. Lay the noodles on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.
In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper; set aside.
In a pan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté until very soft and lightly golden, about 30 minutes. Set the leeks aside.
Fill a bowl with water and add the lemon juice. Cut off the top half and remove the tough outer leaves down to the pale green leaves. Cut off the base of the stems and peel away the dark green outer layer. If using large artichokes, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the prickly chokes. Cut the artichokes, large or small, lengthwise into thin slices. Add the slices to the lemon water.
Drain the artichokes and add to the fry pan along with the 1/2 cup water and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the artichokes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to the bowl with the leeks and stir to combine. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. In another saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Stir the flour into the butter and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the hot milk. Set over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove the sauce from the heat.
Preheat to 375°F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
Cover the bottom of the prepared dish with a layer of the noodles. Spoon one-third of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with one-third of the leek-artichoke mixture and then with one-third of the sauce. Repeat the layering twice. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top. Bake until golden and bubbling, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.