Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lasagne Verdi al Forno and home made spinach pasta!


When I first ate lasagna in Italy, I was surprised at how different the dish was to lasagna typically served in the US. Gracious Patrizia at Villa Ferraia served us her version during a fantastic week at Ferraia’s culinary school (can you find this blogger in the kitchen?). It was light, very flavorful, and composed of thin layers of pasta, béchamel and meat sauce .

According to Lynne Rossetto Kasper, author of The Splendid Table, lasagne should always be a “vivid expression of the ‘less is more’ philosophy of cooking. Mere films of béchamel sauce and meat ragu coat the sheerest spinach pasta. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese dusts each layer. There is nothing more; no ricotta, no piling on of meats, vegetables or cheese; little tomato, and no hot spice. Baking performs the final marriage of flavors. The results are splendid.”

Does that description sound like your typical tall stacked and heavy American-style lasagna? Definitely not! But if you’ve never had authentic lasagna, you’re missing something special.

Our Daring Baker’s challenge for March was to make authentic lasagne (plural), and particularly the lasagne verde, or spinach egg pasta. I’m always ready for a challenge with this group, founded by Lis and Ivonne! You rock!

The Daring Baker’s 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. Click on any of these sites to find the entire recipe.

Making the lasagne was a lot easier than I expected. Only three ingredients are needed – eggs, spinach and flour. I used frozen chopped spinach, squeezed it well to remove excess liquid and chopped it by hand (and not a food processor), so my spinach was more on the chunky side:


But look at what I created! A beautiful green sheet which reminded me of stained glass when held up to the sun! The goal was to get the lasagne as thin and transparent as possible. D’ya think I succeeded?


I chose to roll the dough using a traditional rolling pin and my brute strength (of which I have none!). Fortunately, I was aided by a live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera of Wagner’s Nordic epic Das Rheingold. I had gods, thunder, and fire coursing through my veins as I pushed, turned and pulled the dough. Live from the Met – your timing was perfect!

Lasagne sheets were left to dry for a few hours:


The béchamel sauce was also simple to make using butter, flour, milk pepper and freshly grated nutmeg:


The ragu (meat sauce) was to die for! It took about 4 hours to make from beginning to end and included amongst other ingredients pancetta, beef, pork, prosciutto and sweet carrots. Surprisingly there was no garlic and no herbs, yet it had so many levels of flavor, with wine uniting them all. The wine was the key ingredient in the sauce, in my opinion, and here is a good example of why one should use quality wine when cooking. Husby was kind enough to open a Rabbit Ridge 2002 Paso Robles L.P.R. Grand Reserve. It was sooo yummy and jammy and fruity, I sipped, chopped and stirred…then I sipped again! I lived up to my license plate frame my daughter bought me that says:

I love to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!

The end product was a ragu I’ll be making many times, using quality wine, of course!

Assembly was easy. I chose to bake the lasagne uncovered because I love a crisp and toasted cheesy top! Served with red wine…




  1. Wonderful Dragana! Unfortunately I wasn't able to participate, but reading all of your DB's posts makes me wanna make this soon!

  2. Now that is Lasagna!!!! Looks delicious. Your pasta dough really does look like stained glass. Great job.

  3. Okay, Dragana I want some of that! You need to pick a book with an Italian theme and I will be in Heaven! From a good ole' Italian Girl.

  4. This Lasagna looks incredibly delicious!
    I would like to know what type of camera you'd recommend with a macro setting. I imagine you have a lens attachment to get the fine detail shots. Your photography captures the image so perfect...I can almost smell the lasagna!

    Sweet Wishes from your DB sis,

  5. Dragana, what beautiful pasta! It DOES look like a stained glass window :) ~

    That is the way I love lasagne, far removed from the thick, over-sauced & over-cheesed gloppy versions we usually see. Yours looks delicious!

    Now I'm going back to look at the pictures in the links! Thank you for sharing another informative and entertaining experience in the kitchen ~ delightful!!

  6. Your lasagna looks DELICIOUS! :) Have I mentioned lately how much I love your photos? :D

    I just tried to email you.. did you change your email address? Mind emailing me when you get a chance? lamiacucina AT adelphia DOT net.

    Thanks sweetie!

  7. Dragana,
    Thank you for the information! It was EXTREMELY helpful! I'm getting a better feel for what I'd like. My perfect camera would take incredibly sharp closeups and didn't take a rocket science intellect to operate. All within my budget of course. I'm using my husbands camera, which is meant for landscape, distant shots. The closer you zoom in towards your subject, the blurrier it gets. It's been so difficult to get closeups for my DB's food posts.
    It will be nice to get a camera that has any type of close up option.

    I tried emailing this note, but it kept returning a *failure notice*.

    Thanks again,

  8. Prvi put sam na ovom blogu, slike su fantastične !!!

  9. Gosh your lasagne dough looks fantastic! And it doesn't sound complicated at all. I am definitely going to give this a go. I'll let you know how it goes.
    I love your family features, so very warm and so very serbian.


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