Contributed By Marissa Bognanno, Professional Chef and Zumba Instructor, and Author of The Boot Blog
I took Brittany to my fruit and vegetable guy today - you know, Point Fruit - and I started loading the bags up. She kept saying, “That’s enough, right? Oh, another peach? We don’t need that much, I don’t think.” Little did she know that we were at the Point Fruit, and not Whole Foods produce department. I dumped my bags of fresh zucchini, peaches, basil, melon, little yellow plums, green apples and lemons on the counter. The young boy weighed it all and handed me my receipt. “1.20 per favore.” In that moment the owner, who calls me prof, yelled from outside,
“Hey! How much are you charging the prof?”
“1.20,” said the boy.
“No, the prof pays 1 euro!” he yelled back.
The boy shrugged, took my euro and handed me the bags with a smile.
We walked home, Britt shking her head and repeating, “1 euro? Wow. 1 euro.”
A note about lasagna in Italy: forget about the traditional Italian-American version with the thick, curly sheets, ricotta, ground meat and tomato sauce. Here, the thinner the sheets of fresh pasta, the better. And the more layers, the better. "Americans need to make it like this," Britt pointed out in between bites and I couldn't agree more!
Creamy Zucchini Lasagna
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 box no-boil, flat lasagna sheets (you probably won’t use them all)
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (more if necessary)
3/4 cup fresh ricotta
1/4 cup fresh basil
grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
salt and pepper
Grill sliced zucchini on a grill pan or outdoor grill. Season them with a pinch of salt and pepper after grilling. Make the bechamel sauce: Heat a saucepan over medium and melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Add the milk and continue to whisk for about 5 minutes or until thick. Add the basil and ricotta, salt and pepper to taste, stir and set aside. (If it continues to thicken, you can add some more milk to loosen it up a bit.) Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x9 square baking dish, create the layers; first a layer of the sauce, then the pasta sheets, the zucchini (don’t overlap them), then a sprinkling of the grated parm. Continue to the last layer, finishing with just the sauce, a generous sprinkling of cheese and some ground pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
It's going to be an action-packed weekend, since I have to bring Britt all over town to share a true Barletta going-out experience. You know there'll be dancing and laughing at better-dressed-than-us Italian boys and lots of fun, fruity drinks and definitely some bad techno! Bring it on!