Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Free Saturday Leads to Sunday Supper

Friday afternoon my husband and son took off on a camping trip.  That left me with most of my weekend totally free.  A luxury, I know.  You might think I'm crazy but I didn't rush to the mall for a shopping extravaganza or check in to the local spa.  I did have dinner with my sweet friend on Friday night but Saturday was definitely a Jodi day.  If that doesn't mean shopping or getting a massage, what does it mean?  Well, if you know me you probably know exactly what I did...rolled up my sleeves and spent the day in the kitchen.  I listened to a lot of this music, all the songs my son and husband roll their eyes at every time they come on...again. 

I'd seen a recipe on the Food &Wine blog this week for Lasagna Verde Alla Bolognese.  Jonathan Benno (of Per Se fame) talked about his upcoming NY restaurant, Lincoln and gave up this signature recipe.  This felt like "cold weather and a fire" dinner,  exactly the opposite of SF on Saturday.  I'm not sure why it grabbed me but it did.    

I have my own Bolognese lasagna, a la Marcella Hazan, that I've been making for years.  Her sauce is a stand out and layered with sheets of fresh pasta its fantastic.  But, hey, why not shake things up and try something new?  The "verde" part of Benno's recipe is the spinach pasta.  I decided to make it from scratch-why not?  No one was home and I had nothing but solo time..ahhh.  I made a two egg batch, adding about 1 cup spinach that I wilted and finely chopped.  A couple cups of flour, a drizzle of extra virign olive oil, and a pinch of salt.  The dough was perfect and rolled out beautifully on my Kitchen Aid pasta roller.  As per the recipe, I did give it a quick boil before layering it in the lasagna (I skipped the "toss in oil" direction and just put the sheets on kitchen towels).  Bugialli and Hazan say the same thing, although I know some people think you can skip this step when using fresh pasta.  Take a peak:

(More after the jump...incl. lots more pictures!)

From dough, to sheets, to cooked-this honestly takes very little time, costs about 10x less than buying it, and is so completely satisfying, I love it.

The sauce is a lighter Bolognese than I'm used to.  It did use the traditional combo of pork, veal, and beef but no wine and no milk.  It was much heavier on the tomato too.  To me it felt more like a meat sauce than a Bologense but it was absolutely delicious. Here's what it looked like as it came together:
The mirepoix for the sauce was red onion, carrot, and fennel.

 The sprig of fresh basil that simmered in the sauce smelled so good!

The key difference between our traditional American style lasagna and the version from Bologna is that the meat and pasta layers are intermingled with layers of rich and creamy bechamel sauce. This particular bechamel was infused with garlic, onion, bay leaf, nutmeg, and clove.  It was very thick so straining it took a lot of muscle but again, I wasn't in a hurry.

 See, seriously thick!  And, no, those aren't lumps-they're diced onion and garlic.

The lasagna is built in layers, starting with Bolognese sauce and ending with a layer of freshly grated Parmigiano.  In between are four layers of pasta, sauce, bechamel, and a middle layer of, oh yes, fresh mozzarella.  The recipe calls for a 9" square pan-mine was in the fridge with leftovers in it so I used a 7 x 11" dish (worked great because my pasta sheets were the exact same size).  Here's how it came together:
  The first layer, the mozzarella layer, and the finished product-gotta love that cross section.

Since the boys weren't arriving home until Sunday, I wrapped it up and put it in the fridge.  I took it out about an hour before baking it and we loved it.  Definitely rich from that uber-creamy sauce but delish none the less.  Here's the final result:

Oh yeah, and because making that lasagna just wasn't enough, I also made this homemade blackberry peach pie for dessert:

Happy Sunday Supper! 


pale said...

I am curious about the wrapping it and baking it the next day. I work on the premise that leftover dishes are better. I think it's because the favors intermingle. But going on that, I bake my lasagna then put it in the fridge. The next day I take it out and put it in the oven set at 170 for a few hours...ok about 6! :) To make sure it's nice and heated through out.
So I was wondering if you had any input into the subject for or against. It was just something I started doing and I'm not sure if it's correct or not.
Thanks in advance for your time and input.

Mmm....that's good said...

Hi Pale...I never bake mine in advance, only because I've found the sauce to get dry and the pasta to be overcooked. That said, I've never reheated it so "low and slow" so that might make a difference. The integrity of the dish was outstanding the next day (having not baked it)-give it a try next time and see what you think. Thanks for the note

pale said...

Letting the flavors marry before baking sounds interesting...I never thought of that! Like I's all my own thing and I worked off the leftovers tasted better premise! To combat the drying out I do cook the pasta first so it soaks in the liquid it wants and doesn't seem to make my lasagna dry.
I certainly will try it your way! I must say your dish looked delicious! Your lucky I'm across the country I might have just showed up with a bib and a fork!! :) j/k

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