Cooking

The Classics Revisited: Baked Spinach Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style

Baked Green Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style www.morewinelesswhines.com

Baked Green Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style

What started out as a curiosity turned into an intense interest and then became an obsession.  What was the object of my obsession this past weekend?  Crafting the best possible lasagna, of course!

For the past few weeks, I have been completely absorbed in my work during the day and intense study during the evenings and weekends as this past quarter of my MBA capstone course wound down.  Highly analytical, critical thinking and problem solving consumed my every waking moment.

But you know what?  I function at my peak when I balance the left and right sides of my brain!  To find balance, I cooked like a madwoman the past few weekends.  I decided to make a few meals for the busy week ahead… including one of my favorite soup recipes and this new lasagna!  I originally was going to just make a bolognese from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, but I ended up making the whole lasagna, including a béchamel sauce.

It’s a process to make this lasagna, but the actual assembly goes very quickly once the pasta, bolognese & béchamel are ready!  Please make sure, if you ever take the time to make a homemade lasagna, to enjoy it with a good glass of wine.  I chose a 2013 Cabernet Franc, which I found at a recent wine tasting.  (I also used it in the Bolognese sauce).  Enjoy!

Great Lasagna Wine Pairing: The Franc: 2013 Cabernet Franc www.morewinelesswhines.com

Great Lasagna Wine Pairing: The Franc: 2013 Cabernet Franc

Prepping the Ingredients for Spinach Lasagna with Bolognese Meat Sauce     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Prepping the Ingredients for Spinach Lasagna with Bolognese Meat Sauce

Layering the Béchamel, Bolognese and Parmesan over the Spinach Lasagna Sheets     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Layering the Béchamel, Bolognese and Parmesan over the Spinach Lasagna Sheets

Spinach Lasagna right before Baking in Oven    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Spinach Lasagna right before Baking in Oven

Baked Spinach Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

Bolognese Meat Sauce
Béchamel  Sauce
Homemade green pasta dough or purchased fresh lasagna sheets
2/3 c. freshly grated parmiggiano-reggiano cheese (or Romano cheese)

1.  Set a bowl of cold water next to the stovetop.  Bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil, add 1 T salt, and as soon as the water begins to boil, add the lasagna noodles, 3-4 at a time into the water.  Use a “spider” or small colander to scoop the noodles out of the pasta after about 2-3 minutes maximum.  Plunge the strips into the bowl of cold water, then run under cold running water,  Place on a towel to dry.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.

3.  Spray bottom of lasagna pan with cooking spray and about 1 T. béchamel.  Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of pasta strips, cutting them to fit the pan.

4.  Spread meat sauce & béchamel in a thin layer over the pasta.  Sprinkle on the grated Parmesan.  Then add another layer of pasta, cutting to fit the pan.  Repeat until there are at least 6 layers of pasta.  Leave a little sauce to spread over the top layer.  Sprinkle the top with parmesan.

5.  Bake on top rack of oven for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to set for 10 minutes, then serve.

 

Baked Green Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Baked Green Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style

Ingredients for the Bolognese Meat Sauce    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Ingredients for the Bolognese Meat Sauce

Bolognese Meat Sauce, browning the beef with the vegetables   www.morewinelesswhines.com

Bolognese Meat Sauce, browning the beef with the vegetables

Bolognese Meat Sauce, Simmering     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Bolognese Meat Sauce, Simmering

Bolognese Meat Sauce
(I would double this recipe if you prefer a very saucy/meaty lasagna)

1 T canola oil
3 T butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
2/3 c. chopped celery
2/3 c. chopped carrot
3/4 lb. ground beef chuck
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 c. whole milk
whole nutmeg
1 c. dry white wine
28 oz can imported Italian plum tomatoes, juice reserved

1 Melt oil & butter in a large dutch oven. Add chopped onion and sauce until translucent. Then add carrot & onion. Cook 5 minutes, stirring well.
2. Add ground beef, a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir & ‘chop up’ the beef with a wooden spoon, until cooked through.
3. Add milk and let it simmer until soaked into the meat almost completely. Add a tiny grating of nutmeg and stir.
4. Add the wine. Let it simmer until evaporated, then add the tomatoes. Once tomatoes begin to bubble, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved tomato juice to the pot throughout the long simmering period.
4. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Set aside for making the lasagna.

Bechamel Sauce

3 c. milk
6 T. butter
4.5 T. flour
1.4 tsp. salt

1. Put milk in saucepan, turn heat to medium low and bring milk to an “almost boil.” (a ring of bubbles will form around the edge of the pan)
2. While milk warms, place a large saucepan over low heat. Add butter. once melted, sift in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to eliminate any lumps. Cook, stirring constantly, 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Whisk hot milk into flour-butter mixture 2 T. at a time. Whisk continuously. Continue whisking in milk, 2 T. at a time, until about 1/2 cup has been added. Then, whisk in 1/2 c. increments of milk, until all is incorporated.
4. Heat the pan over low heat and gently stir in salt. Allow to cook undisturbed until sauce thickens. Use immediately for lasagna.

 

Green Pasta Dough, a photo story:

Green Pasta Dough Basics:  Eggs, Spinach & Flour     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Green Pasta Dough Basics: Eggs, Spinach & Flour

Forming eggs, spinach & Flour into a shaggy ball    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Forming eggs, spinach & Flour into a shaggy ball

Kneed dough for 8 minutes, until smooth and looks like this       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Kneed dough for 8 minutes, until smooth and looks like this

Divide green pasta dough into sixths     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Divide green pasta dough into sixths

Making Homemade Spinach Lasagna Noodles www.morewinelesswhines.com

Making Homemade Spinach Lasagna Noodle

The finished sheets of green pasta dough    www.morewinelesswhines.com

The finished sheets of green pasta dough

Green (Spinach) Pasta Dough

1.5 c. unbleached flour
2 large eggs
1/2 of a 10 oz bag frozen spinach, thawed & excess water squeezed out

Make a well in the flour.  Add eggs and spinach.to the flour well Gently begin to incorporate the spinach and egg together with the flour in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until a shaggy, wet dough is formed. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Kneed the dough by hand, adding flour as needed, pressing with the heel of your palm and turning the ball of dough in the same direction (i.e. clockwise), for 8 minutes. (THIS IS GREAT STRESS RELIEF!)

Cut into 6 equal parts. Cover each piece with plastic wrap.

Place pasta machine on the widest setting. Working with one piece of dough at a time, run it through the machine. Fold the dough in on itself and run through the widest setting once more. Repeat 1-2 times if necessary. Reduce the width between cylinders to a more narrow setting. Run the dough through at this setting twice. Reduce the width between the cylinders a final time. Run dough through 2-3 times to attain desired thinness.

Set prepared pasta sheets on cookie sheets (optional: lined with plastic wrap). Cover either with damp paper towels or plastic wrap and use immediately.

Standard

7 thoughts on “The Classics Revisited: Baked Spinach Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style

  1. I was delighted to find this post (with pictures!) of one of the recipes I am yet to cook. This past year, I have been working my way through ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’ (and blogging when I get the chance). I’ve managed 87 of the 466 (that’s my count) but I haven’t yet ventured into her homemade pasta recipes. This one looks very enticing!

  2. It’s so hard to pick favourites! Honestly, apart from the chestnuts boiled in red wine (my problem was more with the taste and texture of the chestnuts) and the boiled courgette recipe, all of the recipes worked wonderfully and have tasted really good. One recipe that produced enraptured silence around the table was the Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, Cream and Porcini Mushrooms. SO simple – but such a beautiful sauce. For me what has been such a new and pleasant way of cooking is her frequent use of the ‘pan-roasting’ method and braising meats. I’ve never used a saute pan so often!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s