Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

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.

Ooops, It's been quite a while since i updated. March has been pretty stressful/busy for me due to our Pharmacology NBME finals. Never ever have i started studying 2 weeks before a test. You'd think 2 weeks would've given me a sufficient amount of time to cover all the subjects and have a least a good night sleep on the night before the test but, NOPE! Once again, i took my time and procrastinated... had to pull many all-nighters on the last few days . And having a 1 week accumulation of caffeine and theanine in my system didn't help w/ the anxiety either, sigh... i need a lot of work on my time/stress-management skills!

If it wasn't for the Daring Bakers Challenge, i'd probably put off updating for another 2 weeks (muahahhaa), but since i just joined DB, skipping the 2nd challenge didn't seem like the responsible thing to do. SO! Here it is, my 2nd challenge-- Lasagna with homemade Spinach Pasta! When i first found out this month's challenge, I was a bit reluctant about trying out the recipe cuz making my own pasta just sounded too hardcore... I didn't make the lasagna until 2 days before the posting date (today), muahaha. [Seeee, Pharmacology can just drain the life out of you] I used my own ragu and white sauce recipe for the challenge... i was afraid I'd fail on both the pasta and the sauce recipes DB provided, so i cooked from my old tried and true recipes to make sure SOMETHING wouldn't go wrong, bahaha. The spinach pasta was quite easy (but messy) to make and it turned out GURREAT! Not to mention super healthy and fresh :D JLo loved IT! Thanks, DB! Wonder what's in store for the April challege, I'm excited!

Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes
Equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.
The halved recipe makes enough pasta for a 9x13 inch baking pan.

  • 2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
  • 10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped [picture 1]
    [or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry]
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose plain flour

  1. Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle [picture 2].
  2. Add the eggs and spinach [picture 3]. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach.
  3. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump [picture 4].
  4. With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic [picture 5]. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours [picture 6].
  6. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. For lasagna, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours [picture 7, 8].
  7. Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag [picture 9].
  • Homemade Spinach pasta sheets
    (If using dried, store-bought pasta sheets, just assemble them as indicated in the directions and pour 1/2 cup of water down the sides of the lasagna before baking.)
  • 3/4 cup of cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan (to top the lasagna)

  • RAGU (Red sauce)
  • 500g ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 - 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 cups cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten

  1. To make the Ragu, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a big skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in onion, green pepper, garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook until almost brown in color.
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce, tomatoes, parsley, basil, sugar, and salt. Stir often and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside [picture 1].
  5. If the ragu is too dry, add in more tomato sauce or 1/2 a cup of water or stock.

  6. To make the white cheese sauce, in a medium pot, add all white sauce ingredients together.
  7. Place it over medium-low heat and cook for 5 minutes. Stir often to prevent the bottom from burning. Set aside [picture 2].

  8. Drop about four pieces of pasta in boiling salted water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes.
  9. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender [picture 3].
  10. Lift the lasagna from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.
  11. Spread a thin layer of Ragu (red sauce) over the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish [picture 4].
  12. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the red sauce [picture 5].
  13. Spread a thin layer of Ragu (red sauce) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the Cheese sauce (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls). Then sprinkle a bit of shredded cheese [picture 6].
  14. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with Ragu (red sauce) [picture 7].
  15. Seal the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes [picture 8].
  16. Remove the foil and top with a generous dusting of cheese and Parmesan. Bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown.

Lasagna with Spinach Pasta
(sorry, i kinda burnt my cheese topping this time)


  1. Oooh, look at all the layers! It looks great, and don't worry about the top... a little crispiness is a good thing in a lasagne!

  2. Yup.. I completely agree with Angela.. that crispy top is my favourite. Love how you put fresh tomato on the slice.. =)

  3. Looks fab! Love that little piece of tomato on top, really adds to its appearance! Glad you enjoyed the challenge =)

  4. You sure are a dedicated DBer...with those exams I can't believe you took the time to make it. Hope you do as well on your tests as you did on this challenge! Great job!

  5. Great job on your pasta. Looks delicious. And I love your photos of the process.

  6. Mmm, your lasagne looks awesome!! Great job on this challenge =D

  7. Thanks for checking out my blog, and the nice comments :) Your lasagna looks beautiful, love the tomato on top! Congrats on this challenge, and hope this one helped take away the stress of exams

  8. I love the step by step pictures! Great job!

  9. you made your own pasta? THAT IS LEGIIIIT

  10. Glad you were able to balance everything, looks delish!

  11. Aurgghl. (Sorry – that’s just my Homer Simpson drooling noise.) If it had been me studying two weeks for pharmacology finals, I would have slept afterward rather than cooked, but then I suppose you needed to eat! And by the looks of it, you obviously ate really well. Those are amazing photos of some amazing-looking lasagna!

  12. what're you talking about? You ARE hardcore!!! XD I can hardly bother to COOK pasta, let alone making them -_- Looks really good though!!!:D

  13. Nice recipe, very good instructions and photos too! Would love a link to your posts from Foodista-related pages. We have two types of embeddable widgets that can help you build traffic. Check them out here and let me know what you think. Thanks!

  14. Wow - that looks superb!! This was just such a great challenge :)