Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daring Bakers - March ~ Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

I followed the recipe for the pasta and Béchamel sauce. We were given the option to use whatever fillings we wanted so I made an artichoke & sausage lasagna that my family loves. I don't make it very often so I thought this was the perfect time! Plus, as you can see in the pasta pictures it was a cold and rainy Pacific NW day, which is perfect for lasagna.

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)

Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:

A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches. Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick. The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm).

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

It was SO hard but I am really glad I made the pasta. I'm not sure I would do it again but it was really fun!


Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

My lasagna recipe I used.

Lasagne coi Carciofi
(Lasagne with Artichokes and Béchamel Sauce)

1-pound whole milk mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh) or 4 cups pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh spinach pasta sheets
1-pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups stemmed and sliced white mushrooms
1 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers, well drained, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (13 ¾ ounces) artichoke bottom or heats, drained and cut into ½ inch pieces.
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 recipe béchamel sauce
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350°

1. In a large skillet, crumble the sausage and cook over medium-high heat, for about 8 minutes, until browned. Drain well. Transfer the sausage to a double layer of paper towels and press out the excess fat. Wipe out the skillet.
2. In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the roasted peppers, artichokes, sausage, and basil; season with salt and pepper. Remover from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a colander and drain off all the excess liquid. Cover and set aside.
3. Prepare the béchamel sauce.
4. Lightly oil a 13x9x2 inch rectangular baking dish.
5. Spread ½ cup of the béchamel sauce over the bottom of the dish. Arrange one-third of the noodles over the sauce, spreading evenly to cover. Top with half the sausage and vegetable mixture; sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella and 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange another layer of noodles over the cheese, and then top with the remaining sausage mixture, 1-cup mozzarella, and 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange remaining noodles on top. Spread with the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 2 cups mozzarella and 1/3 Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly over the top. Sprinkle with parsley.
6. Place baking dish on a sturdy rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Back for 45-50 minutes, until the top is browned and the filling is bubbly.
7. To serve, let the lasagne rest, covered (I loosely put foil over it so the top doesn’t get soggy), for 5 minutes before cutting.

Serves 9-12

This lasagna is so freaking good. The artichokes, Béchamel, all works so well together! YUM!!


Rosabela said...

Oh man, does this ever look delicious! It looks like a lot of work ... well worth the effort, though. Excellent job on the lasagna.

oneordinaryday said...

Mmm. Artichokes and spinach together is something I love. I never thought to do it in a lasagne though. Great job on the challenge.

honkytonkdolly said...

I think I just gained 5 lbs looking at it!

honkytonkdolly said...


Jess said...

Your lasagna looks amazing! Artichokes? yummm! I agree, a little to much work, but it was fun.