Lasagne verdi al forno

Lasagne verdi al forno

By
From
Man Food
Serves
10-12
Photographer
Billy Law

I think lasagne is totally underrated – sometimes we take this humble pasta for granted and don't give it enough love. To make a good lasagne from scratch can be time consuming, but the end result is totally worth all the effort and time you put in. If you’ve never tried making your own pasta before, then this dish is a good starting point.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100g parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
150g parmesan cheese, finely grated
100g prosciutto di parma, thinly sliced

Beef ragu

Quantity Ingredient
80ml olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
500g minced beef
250ml red wine
375ml chicken or beef stock
1.2kg tinned diced tomatoes
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Béchamel sauce

Quantity Ingredient
80g butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk
salt, to taste
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Spinach egg pasta

Quantity Ingredient
400g strong ‘00’ flour
2 large eggs
300g fresh spinach, finely chopped
pinch salt

Method

  1. To make the beef ragu, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium–high heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaf and cook for another minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan then brown the minced beef. The meat will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to stop burning at the base of the pan. Once all the beef is browned, return the vegetables to the pan.
  2. Add the red wine and bring to the boil, then scrape the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any caramelised bits. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then let the mixture cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the stock to the ragu, partially cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomatoes, and stir to mix well. Cook uncovered, over the lowest heat for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside ready to be used.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the pasta, tip the flour onto a clean work surface, and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and add the spinach and salt. With one hand, slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture until everything is fully incorporated to form a rough dough.
  5. Now with both hands, knead the dough for about 10 minutes to form a soft, pliable dough. If the dough is still a little wet, sprinkle some flour, a little bit at a time, on the dough and keep kneading until it is smooth and elastic but not sticky. If it is too dry, dab your fingers in water and keep kneading until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium–high heat until foaming. Add the flour and cook for 1–2 minutes or until golden in colour. Pour in half of the milk gradually, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining milk slowly, and keep whisking until smooth and combined. Keep cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and nutmeg, remove from the heat and set aside.
  7. When the dough has rested, cut off a small piece (about 100 g). Using a pasta machine, start from the lowest setting. Feed the dough into the machine and roll the pasta a few times into one long, flat sheet. Fold the pasta into thirds, like you would fold a letter; press firmly then turn the pasta 90 degrees, feed it into the pasta machine and roll again. Repeat this process a couple more times. This step is important, as the lamination process will give the pasta the al dente texture. Change the pasta machine to the next setting and work your way up, rolling the pasta sheet (no need for folding from now on) until it is around 2 mm thickness. Cut the pasta into 10 x 20 cm rectangles then hang it up while working with the remaining dough. Do not overlap the pasta sheets when hanging or they will stick together.
  8. Prepare a large bowl of iced water. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil, season with a good pinch of salt. In batches, cook the pasta sheets until al dente, about 1 minute. The pasta will float to the surface when ready. Remove the pasta carefully with tongs and quickly slip the cooked pasta into the iced water to stop the cooking process. Once the pasta has cooled down, lift it out and drain on paper towel. Repeat until all the pasta sheets are cooked.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Reheat the béchamel sauce and ragu gently over a low heat. If the béchamel sauce has turned gloopy, add more milk to loosen it up so it’s easier to spread.
  10. To assemble the lasagne, mix both cheeses together in a bowl. Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of a large baking dish. Arrange a single layer of pasta sheets over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the pasta, and top with a layer of ragu. Layer 3–4 slices of prosciutto neatly on top of the ragu. Sprinkle about 35 g of the combined cheeses evenly over the top. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of béchamel on top and a generous sprinkle of cheese. You should get about three layers.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown.
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