Monday, February 22, 2010

Spinach & cheese lasagne

Spinach lasagne – Green lasagne

Cheese filling:
1 1/2 c chopped parsley
3 10-oz packages frozen chopped spinach
2 lb whole milk ricotta
3 c grated cheese (I used a mixture of pecorino, provolone, and asiago)
2 eggs
3 tsp each salt and pepper

Béchamel sauce:
16 Tbp butter (2 sticks)
16 Tbp flour
1 qt milk
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbp prepared mustard
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt & pepper

1 1/2 lb spinach pasta sheets
8 oz shredded cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella, provolone, asiago.)

First, make the cheese filling. Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as possible, either by pressing it in a sieve or colander, or by wrapping it in a clean dish towel, and squeezing out the moisture. Combine the spinach with the parsley, ricotta, eggs, and grated cheese. Add salt and pepper. Mix well. It should be a fairly stiff paste – like a biscuit dough in texture.

 The spinach & cheese filling.

Next, make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepot or Dutch oven. Add flour, and cook the flour for a minute or two. Add milk, and whisk well to eliminate lumps. Cook for about 10 minutes until thickened. Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sriracha, and a few scrapes of nutmeg – the secrets to a tasty béchamel. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. The béchamel should not be bland.

 Secrets to a great bechamel sauce.

Assemble the lasagne. In a 13" x 9" x 3" pan, put about 1/2 cup of the béchamel. Smear it across the bottom of the pan. Add two sheets of lasagne. (Typically the spinach lasagne sheets will be fresh, and so require little or no cooking. You can boil them for about a minute, then drain and cool, or simply use them as-is. Your choice might depend on how dry the sheets are when you get them.) Add 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Spread it out across the pasta sheet with a spatula. (An offset spatula works best.) Cover with about 1/4 of the béchamel. Add another pasta sheet. Repeat with the cheese and béchamel. Add another pasta sheet, cheese, béchamel. Finish with a double pasta sheet on top and the remaining béchamel. Cover with shredded cheese.

Smear the bottom of the pan with bechamel.

Cover with pasta sheet.

Spread out some of the cheese-spinach filling.

Add bechamel sauce. 

Spread bechamel sauce evenly. 

 The assembled lasagne, ready for the oven.
 Bake in a 350°F oven for about an hour, until brown on top and bubbling around the edges. Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

Baked to perfection.  


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