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:
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.
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: