Spinach Pasta Lasagna with Bolognese and Bechamel

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Makes 1 large lasagna; serves 6 to 10
Credit: Lidia Bastianich
Originally from April 2103 on my old blog

This is probably one of the best things I’ve ever made and eaten. I won’t lie to you; definitely a lot of labor, but it’s a labor of love. You have to make the bolognese, which cooks for 4 hours, the Béchamel, AND the spinach pasta dough. BUT, all 3 of these things can be made the day before, which is what i did!

The creamy Béchamel, the oozing cheese, the meaty, salty bolognese, the pretty, tender spinach pasta sheets… it all adds up to PERFECTION.

Make it now, please. Just do it. It will make everyone happy.

It makes great left overs, too: just slice it up and store it in containers in the fridge, then heat it up in the microwave the next day: it tastes just as good!

If you don’t have a pasta maker/the patience to make the spinach pasta sheets, just use pre-made lasagna sheets. You could also swap the bolognese out for your own favorite meat sauce, but I highly suggest using the bolognese: it’s ridiculous.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe fresh spinach pasta dough (you can find the recipe on my blog)
  • 4 cups Béchamel sauce (you can double the recipe posted on my blog)
  • 4 cups bolognese sauce (you can use the recipe posted on my blog)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, to grease the baking pan
  • 8 ounces grated Parmesan
  • 12 ounces shredded Low-Moisture Mozzarella or Muenster cheese

Take the ball of spinach pasta dough and divide it into 5 equal balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of dough until it is thin enough to fit into the pasta maker on the widest setting. Put it through the widest setting a few times, then the next widest, then the next, until the strip of dough is 20 inches or longer. Divide the strip in half vertically to make 2 10-inch or longer strips. Put these strips through the machine until they are as thin as possible. As you repeat with the other balls of dough, lay the strips out onto lightly flour-dusted towels. Repeat with the next ball of dough. Top the strips you rolled out before with another towel, dust it lightly with flour, and stack the next strips on top. Repeat this with the other balls of dough. You can either store these strips in the fridge in an air-tight container for a few days or use them immediately.

When ready to make the lasagna, get your biggest pot, fill it with at least 6 quarts of water, and salt it heavily. Set up a big bowl or baking dish next to the pot and fill it half-way with ice water.

When the pasta pot reaches a rolling boil, cook the pasta sheets, 1 or 2 at a time, for 50 to 60 seconds. Pull each strip out with a spider or sieve, then shock it in the ice water for 20 to 30 seconds. Lay the cooked sheets out on towels, making sure they don’t touch each other. Replace the cold water as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. If you have stored the bolognese in the fridge overnight or for a few days, reheat it in a saucepan so that it loosens up enough to be spreadable. Take the bechamel sauce out of the fridge if you stored it there. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13×9 baking dish.

Coat the bottom AND sides thinly with 1/3 cup of bechamel.Spread 1/3 cup bolognese sauce over the bottom, on top of the bechamel. Drape a pasta sheet lengthwise over the dish so that the ends extend off the short ends of the dish. Put another pasta sheet alongside the first to cover the bottom of the dish. Press the pasta sheets into the sides of the dish.

Spread 1/3 cup bechamel over the pasta. Spread 1/3 cup bolognese over the bechamel. Place the pasta sheets over top, repeating the same procesure.

Spread 2/3 cup bechamel over the pasta. Sprinkle ¼ cup grated Parmesan  all over. Spread 1 cup bolognese over top the cheese. Cover with a third of the Muenster or Mozzarella.

Fit another layer of pasta over the top. Top with 2/3 cup bechamel, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, 1 cup bolognese, and another third of the Muenster or Mozzarella.

Make one last layer with the pasta sheets and top with 2/3 cup bechamel, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, 1 cup bolognese, and the last third of the Muenster or Mozzarella. Cover with the last of the pasta sheets to form the top of the lasagna. Spread the top with 1/3 cup of bechamel and the remaining grated Parmesan (about 2 tablespoons; I used more).  If you have left over bolognese, you can spread some on the top of the lasanga, too.

There will be pasta hanging over the sides of the pan. Just tear these with your hands or even cut it with clean scissors, so that the noodles fit the pan perfectly.

If you want, you can bake the lasagna the next day, covering it with plastic wrap and storing it in the fridge.

Before putting it in the oven, cover the lasagna with tin foil; tent it so that it doesn’t stick to the top. With the tip of a sharp knife or the tines of a fork, pierce the foil five or six times to vent some steam.

Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven, remove the foil, and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes, so that the top is deeply colored and crisp.

Take the lasagna out of the oven and test your patience by letting it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into it and serving.

Happy dining!!

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