lundi 26 mars 2007

Cheesy Fennel Lasagne

France is a country renowned for its cheeses. The variety is astounding – it has been said to have more than 500 different ones available. There are cheeses to suit every different taste:
– cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk
– fresh, soft-white, natural-rind, washed-rind, semi-soft, soft, firm and blue

Comté is a firm cow’s milk cheese from the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, close to the Swiss border. Comté was the first cheese to obtain the coveted “Appellation d’Origine Contrôllée” (AOC) status, certifying that the cheese is produced in accordance with the strict regulations governing the consistency and traditional methods of the area. The cheese is a close relative of Swiss Gruyère. Comté is usually described as salty, mild and fruity. This cheese can be served as part of a cheese platter, in tarts or fondue.

I use Comte in Cheesy Fennel Lasagne. This dish makes great convenience food – prepare it ahead of time and freeze it to use when your schedule is too busy to cook. Just pop it into the oven to heat through and serve it with a tossed green salad.

Cheesy Fennel Lasagne
Serves 6

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 small zucchinis, grated
1 medium onion, chopped
60mL (¼ cup) tomato paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
5mL (1 tsp.) dried oregano leaves
200g (7 oz.) package instant lasagne noodles
80mL (1/3 cup) freshly grated parmesan cheese

30g (2 Tbsp.) butter
60mL (¼ cup) plain flour
375mL (1½ cups) milk
375mL (1½ cups) Comté or Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 180°C (375°F).

Combine fennel, tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, onion, tomato paste, garlic and oregano in large saucepan, cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes; alternatively microwave on HIGH for about 10 min.).

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan, add flour, cook, stirring for 1 min. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Layer lasagne noodles with cheese sauce and vegetable mixture in an oven-proof dish, finishing with cheese sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, cover and bake for about 30 min. (alternatively microwave on HIGH for about 20 min.) or until lasagne is tender. Remove lid and bake for a further 10 min. or until browned.

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