The Daring Bakers did something a bit unusual this month– we baked lasange! Our hosts Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande chose Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s (from The Splendid Table) Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna. This rich lasagna has layers of homemade spinach pasta, country-style meat ragù, béchamel and Parmigiano-Reggiano. OK, I know that photo is of my unbaked lasagna, but I confess to only having assembled it this afternoon. By the time we sat down for dinner, it was too dark for pictures, so this will have to do.
I make lasagne frequently, and I’ve made my own pasta on occasion, but I’ve never made spinach pasta (what makes this a “lasagne verdi”) before. Since I’ve already confessed to procrastination, I may as well get it all out in the open and also confess to laziness– I used some shortcuts when making the pasta. First, I used frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed well). Next, I made my dough in the food processor and then finished the kneading by hand. Finally, I rolled it with my pasta machine (taken to the thinnest setting) rather than with a rolling pin. Hey–it’s still handmade, if you ask me. The dough came together nicely in the processor. The egg alone wasn’t quite enough liquid to bind it, so I added a couple spoonfuls of the spinach-squeeze water. Let me tell you, the dough was a gorgeous green!
I went with four layers of pasta in total, but I still had several sheets left over. There are so many things that can be done with extra pasta sheets (and I’m sure you’ll see that other DBers have made raviloi, manicotti, etc with their leftovers), but I’m lazy, ya know, so I just took a knife and cut them into thick “rags.” I’ll cook them up like regular fresh noodles and toss them with sauce later in the week.
I’ve made béchamel (white sauce) a thousand times, and can probably do it in my sleep. It’s my go-sauce for things like mac and cheese and pot pies, so I had no problems there. I’m not one for making meat ragù, though, so this was new to me. I don’t eat red meat, and usually go vegetarian with pasta sauces. Here, I decided to swap out the veal, pork and beef in the recipe for a combination of spicy Italian chicken sausage (the raw kind for the butcher) and mushrooms (crimini and reconstituted dried porchini). I minced my onion, carrot and celery base in the food processor, and then did the same with the mushrooms. It made a delicious, thick ragù, and my husband, who certainly is a carnivore, thought it tasted great.
This was such a fun challenge. Silky fresh pasta layered with béchamel, cheese and a tender ragù cooked down in milk, made for a very decadent, lush lasagna. Even though I made just a half-recipe (in an 8″ x 8″ baking dish), between the lasagna and the leftover pasta, I have a few nights’ worth of dinners for my efforts. That’s not bad at all! Visit Beans and Caviar, Melbourne Larder or Io Da Grande for the recipe. And check out the brand spankin’ new Daring Kitchen site– it’s gorgeous, and has lots of fun features to keep you entertained for hours! Thank you, Lisa and Ivonne!!
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.
For Taste&Create VIII, I was hooked up with Teresa from I’m Running to Eat. Teresa is an avid runner and cooks healthy meals for her family. I had no problem finding something from her blog to highlight here, but I cringe to think of Teresa’s reaction to the billion-calorie sweets I post– sorry Teresa!
From Teresa’s site, I chose Greek feta and tomato pasta, a recipe that she says is a favorite, and although it’s vegetarian, even the carnivores in her family love it. Since I eat a mainly vegetarian diet, but R could live off steak, that sounded perfect for us.
This came together in a snap. It’s one of those dishes where the sauce is basically made in the time it takes the pasta to cook–I love that! Rather than the thin spaghetti the recipe calls for, I used farfalle here. I wanted to take advantage of the last hurrah for fresh tomatoes before the cold sets in in Sydney, and used cherry tomatoes on the vine, cooked just until they burst. And since I had a giant bunch of basil on the counter, I tossed some in at the end. My favorite part of this dish, though, was the feta, which just barely melted from the heat of the pasta, and turned really creamy.