So it's time for my first challenge as a Daring Baker. It wasn't easy - starting my membership in this great community by doing lasagne... but I've made it!
The 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.
Below you can see the result of my hard work (and the hard work it was indeed!). I've always wanted to make my own lasagne, since I love this dish and I really prefer to make it myself rather than buy it ready made and just reheat it... It wasn't easy, oh no, but I'm sure I will be making more of those in the future. The challenge was to make your own pasta and white béchamel sauce the filling could be anything - so the filling is my own invention ;)
How to make it...
- 1 egg
- 100g fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped (60g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry)
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
- 500 g minced meat ( I used beef)
- 3 carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- half stalk leek
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups chicken stock
- oil for frying
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups grated cheese of your choice, I had mozzarella but preferably the Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Mix well and knead. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. 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. Roll very thin and cut lasagne shapes. Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.
To make béchamel sauce melt the butter and sift the flour, whisk until smooth. Stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Simmer stirring constantly 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper and a nutmeg.
For the filling fry on the oil meat and then add can tomatoes, chopped vegetables: carrots, pepper, onion, garlic and seasoning. Pour the stock, stir well. Cover the pan and simmer until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew.
Assembling the lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the pasta and then an equally thin layer of the filling. Cover with some béchamel and cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil. Bake 50 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the lasagne rest for about 5 minutes. Then serve.