Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lasagne Verde recipe

Italians would serve this as a first course, but I usually make it the main dish; this recipes serves 8.

Spinach Pasta
1/2 10-ounce package frozen spinach
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 whole large eggs
or 6 bought 10x13 sheets of spinach pasta

1. Cook and cool the spinach. Squeeze out all the liquid. Chop in the food processor. Set aside.
2. Put the flour into the food processor. Break the three eggs into the flour. Add the chopped spinach.
3. Process until the eggs and spinach are blended. At that point you want a ball of quite dry dough, but you may end up with either grainy green flour or a sticky blob. If it is sticky add a little flour and process for a few more seconds. If it is grainy, pour it out and press it together into a ball, then process for a few seconds to knead it together.
4. Turn the dough out of the processor and knead for a minute, or until the dough is smooth and silky.
5. Set the rollers of the pasta machine to the widest opening. Take a chunk of dough and cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap.
6. Run the chunk of dough through the pasta machine once. Fold in half and repeat. Fold again and repeat. Each time it should become smoother and more square and even. Then narrow the setting and run through once or twice without folding. Repeat until you reach the second-to-last setting. (On my machine this is number 6, but some machines only go up to 6; in that case stop at 5.)
7. At this point you will have a green ribbon about 4 to 5 inches wide. Dust it lightly with flour, lay it on a clean, floured surface and cover with a clean dishtowel. Repeat until all the dough is rolled out.

7 cups milk
14 tablespoons butter (1 3/4 cubes)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt to taste

1. Bring the milk almost to a boil. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. When it begins to foam, add the flour, stirring constantly.
3. Let the flour cook in the butter for about 2 minutes. Stir constantly and do not let it brown.
4. Add the milk and begin whisking. Continue to whisk until the sauce becomes thick and smooth. Taste and add salt as needed. (Remember, you’ll be adding salty Parmesan cheese later.)

Ragu Bolognese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped or grated
1/4 pound pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
1 pound skirt steak, ground
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Cook the vegetables in the olive oil until soft. Add the pancetta and the beef. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, but keep heat low.
2. Add the white wine, tomato puree and water. Stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
3. Simmer for 2 hours, uncovered. Turn the heat off and add the cream. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. If the sauce is not silky on the tongue, add a lump of butter or a little more cream.

To assemble:
3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup butter

1. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9 x 13 x 2-inch glass, ceramic or metal pans.
2. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Cook the noodles one or two at a time, as they are needed, leaving them in the boiling water for only 15 seconds. Remove and allow the water to drip off the noodles.
3. Place a layer of noodles in the bottom of each pan. Lightly spread with a little ragu and bechamel (about 1/2 cup each per layer). Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup Parmesan and cover with another layer of noodles. Repeat until you have 6 layers of pasta and toppings, ending with ragu, bechamel and Parmesan.
4. Dot the top with the remaining butter and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes if you just put it together. If you refrigerated the lasagne before baking, allow an hour will work as well. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.