Oops. March kind of slipped through my fingers … I blame the ides. Speaking of ides, I made a Caesar Salad with Tempeh Croutons (to go with the rest of my post…)
I’ll put up that recipe later … Now! On to the more important matter at hand – March’s Daring Bakers Challenge!
Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (veganized)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time
10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.
Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.
Cooking the Pasta:
Bring 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 and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.
Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. 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). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. 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.
I used a pasta recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan for my handmade noodles, a Mushroom Lentil Ragu recipe from Eat The Right Stuff, and a Beschamel recipe from Vegan Dad. I adapted everything to my own needs and it worked out really well! I made everything all in one day, starting with the sauces in the morning. I took a break to go throw a frisbee in the park (it’s gorgeous outside!) and came back to work on the noodles. For the parmesan, I ended up using shredded FYH Mozzarella – this was the first time it didn’t melt perfectly for me.
Right now, I’m in a kitchen that is equipped with little more than a stove and one pot, but I made this thing work! I ended up kneading my dough by hand and rolling it out on the dining room table, using a giant bottle of soy sauce as a rolling pin. I used to make pasta when I was a kid with my parents, but we used a machine and there were usually eggs involved. They’re really not necessary! I even used semolina in place of the chickpea/soy flour and everything held up really well. The mess wasn’t too heinous and I would probably make this recipe again if I wanted to impress someone with my Italian prowess. I do have dual Italian citizenship, so it’s about time I prove my worth with some homemade pasta!
Best served to friends and family outdoors with romantic lighting. Don’t invite anyone you don’t want falling in love with you.