First of all,my hearty thanks to my well wishers.I'm feeling better now,still a little sniffy ,achy and weak,I know you won't believe that If I say that I made this pasta dish from scratch in spite of my illness.
After slurping soups and stews for quite for sometime now,this lasagne recipe was certainly very appetizing and filling.The only tough part was the rolling of the pasta,as it requires lot of muscle,which obviously seemed to have diminished from the sick episode.With my previous attempts to make pasta with whole wheat flour in vain,I stuck the original recipe for the pasta.The vegan Bachemal and ragu best suited my diet right now.
The soft pasta in layers of flavorful sauce satisfied the taste buds of even my little one.If Only I had not procrastinated completing the challenge until the last week,I could have put in more zeal in to the preparation and presentation.
The March 2009 Daring Bakers 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 for the challenge.
(watch the making of the lasagne)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Vegetable Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 2 quart (approx 2 litre) shallow baking dish.
Cooking the Pasta:
Bring 5 cups of the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. 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. Lift the lasagne 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.
Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel . Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a dusting of bread crumbs.
Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil,bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.
#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)
Makes enough for 3 to 4 servings .
1 large Organic egg
4 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 3 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)
Working by Hand:
A roomy work surface. Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.
A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.
Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.
A sharp chef’s knife or pizza cutter for cutting pasta sheets.
Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the egg and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the egg and spinach. 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. Sprinkle few drops of water if needed. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.
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. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. 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. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.
Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.
Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm).
Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.
(bachemal sauce video)
#2 Cauliflower Bechamel
4 ounces,2cups cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
1 1/2 cup cauliflower water,use the water drain after cooking the cauliflower
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a pot,carefully drop the cauliflower florets ,cover and cook until tender,about 10 minutes.Drain and use the water for making the roux.Blend the cauliflower to a smooth paste;set aside.
To make the roux,Use a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cauliflower water a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.now mix in the cauliflower paste and stir well. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.
#3 Vegetable Ragu’
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper,finely chopped
1 cup button mushrooms,finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili powder(optional)
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped(about 1 cup)
1 canned plum tomatoes ,drained and crushed or 2 large tomatoes steamed,skinned and pureed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. . Add the onions sauté for a minute then add the garlic,saute another minute.Now add in the vegetables,chili powder,season with salt and pepper.Cover and cook until vegetables are tender,about 10-15 minutes.Add the tomatoes,Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 15 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick stew.
Thanks to the hosts for the awesome challenge.check out other creative variations of this lasagne.