Even though apples are available year-round, I’ve always thought of them as an autumn fruit. I don’t know how I got that idea in my head, but it’s there and it won’t leave.
So as autumn and winter approach, my recipe planning for my clients and myself includes more apples as both a primary and secondary ingredient.
I really love apples in both savory and sweet recipes. And I like using them in unexpected places – like lasagna. You should have seen the looks on the faces of my television crew when I told them I would be making apple lasagna. Incredulous doesn’t begin to describe their reactions.
Incidentally, my very first column in this publication was about three variations of lasagna and the original unedited piece contained a recipe for that apple lasagna, but because of space limitations, only two of the variations ended up in the column and the apple lasagna recipe never made it to print. You’re in luck this week because I’m now writing more compactly and will leave enough space for you to get the recipe.
I promise you that most folks will never expect lasagna for dessert. And with the no-boil lasagna sheets available now, this recipe is a snap to make. I’ve also taken a shortcut with the filling, using canned apple pie filling, but if you’re industrious and you have a good supply of apples from a tree in your back yard or your own orchard, do what you know best and create your own filling.
This dessert also contains another unexpected element based on traditional lasagna: a sweetened and flavored cheese.
• 8 pieces uncooked lasagna sheets
• 2 20-ounce cans apple pie filling
• sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
• 1 32-oz. container of ricotta cheese
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 6 tablespoons flour
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 6 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1/4 cup quick oats
• 1 dash nutmeg
Grease a 13-by-9-by-2 baking dish with cooking spray and lay lasagna sheets in an overlap on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and sugar.
Spread one can apple pie filling, slicing any extra-thick apples, over the lasagna sheets.
Layer another four pieces of lasagna over apples and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
In another bowl, mix together ricotta cheese filling, beaten egg, almond extract and sugar and spread evenly over lasagna sheets, then top with another four pieces of lasagna.
Spoon remaining can of apple pie filling over lasagna.
In a small bowl, crumble together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over apple filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into serving pieces and top with a dollop of sour cream mixed with sugar and cinnamon.
This recipe would also work well with stone fruits (peaches would be great) because the moisture imparted by the fruit during the baking process is more than enough to soften the pasta.
And, much like apple or peach pie, this dessert works well warm or cold.
I cannot promise that an apple lasagna a day will keep the doctor away. But it sure will taste good and bring the element of surprise to the dinner table.
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