Lasagne Verdi al Forno

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A week before I made this challenge,  I was watching Mario eats Italy, where there’s a scene of an Italian old lady making pasta… she just rolled…and rolled, quickly and easily done, and Mr. Mario kept on saying “one hand roll and the other hand stretch…”

So I thought in the back of my mind, hmm… I can do that quickly, piece of cake pasta, no worries🙂

On the D’day, I red the recipe thoroughly, it said you have to roll out the pasta dough very thin until you can see the back of your hand while you hold it… then… there it began, my journey of making my handmade pasta…

I made half of the dough recipe, it took me  about an hour just to rolled out a small amount of pasta, I guess the Italian lady was old not for nothing😛

The finished dish was very satisfying… but next time I make my own pasta,  there’s better be a pasta machine in my kitchen😉

PS: I made my own RAGU recipe

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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.

 

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Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)


(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe  Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method
Working Ahead:
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

 

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#1 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:

Equipment

A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). 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 (89cm long and 5cm 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.

Kneading:
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). Note: Enzasaysthat transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

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

#2 Bechamel

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.

#3  Ragu’ con basilico

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 15 minutes and Cooking time 45 minutes

 Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 500 g half on half  coarse grind veal and beef
  • 1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp all spices
  • fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the onions, garlic and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the onions barely begin to color. Stir  meat into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Stir stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Add the tomato paste and all the spices,adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 30 minutes. Stir frequently.

Add the fresh basil. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 5 minutes.

  1. mmm I am thinking right now to put this recipe on my list. somehow I run out of idea in term of what to cook for my picky son:(

  2. Very nice! Great job here!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. I LOVE the way you presented the lasagna..beautiful job and great photos!

  4. photos magnifiques et présentation superbe🙂 bravo !

  5. Loved your serving dish! Great job.

    • jo
    • March 27th, 2009

    Ooohh I love the single serve lasagna version. Great idea and really beautiful pictures.

  6. Wouw..rajin banget niy bikin sendiri pasta untuk lasagnanya, keliatan enak banget apalagi penampilannya bikin laperrrr.

  7. Beautiful photos!

    • peasepudding
    • March 27th, 2009

    Lovely photographs! I used a pasta machine which took no time at all, one of the millions of gadgets I have in my small kitchen.

  8. So pretty in it’s own little cup! I love the basil twist, sounds yummy!

  9. Hehe, “old not for nothing”!!I completely agree, I made pasta the first time too and it was a good workout for my arms😀 Nicely done!

    • Y
    • March 28th, 2009

    What a funny post! I actually quite enjoyed rolling out the pasta, even though it was quite strenuous and took a long time!

  10. Wonderful basil addition – and I really like you photos, they’re beautiful.

  11. I love spinach pasta,and make it is not an easy task.You take this with humor and the result looks soooo good!!!!!
    By the way, love your photos.

  12. Mmm, your lasagne looks amazing! I love the serving dish, it’s adorable =D.

  13. Very good looking Lasagna
    I bet the flavour was perfect

  14. It took me forever to roll it out too.

  15. I love the gorgeous individual servings. Totally agree about hand rolling–I was thanking heaven I had a roller.

  16. these looks soooo yummy !
    although i have to admiti play it lazy and usually buy the pasta sheets (barilla) and make whatever sauce according to my mood !

  17. What pretty little lasagna. Great job with the challenge!

  18. This challenge brought a newfound respect for Italian ladies, that’s for sure.

    Your lasagna is the first I’ve seen that is down right adorable.

  19. Love your photos Zita!

    Cantik seperti biasa =)

  20. You’re right, we should more doing by hand.😉 Wonderful pictures.

  21. It looks great – I love the idea for little lasagnas!

    I had the same experience with rolling it out. It took a whole Sunday afternoon, really, and I think I developed some serious muscle in the process.

  22. Yours turned out lovely. I like how you made them in little custard dishes, rather than a traditional larger pan. Looks great!

  23. wow…telaten banget bikinnya. Both pasta and picture are great looking.

    blogwalking, salam kenal🙂

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