Recipes for lasagna

 
Posted1/3/2018 6:03 AM
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  • Lasagna Alla Bolognese.

    Lasagna Alla Bolognese. Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Roasted Mushroom and Swiss Chard Lasagna

Roasted Mushroom and Swiss Chard Lasagna.
Roasted Mushroom and Swiss Chard Lasagna. - Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Lasagna doesn't need to contain meat to be hearty. This one is layered with roasted mushrooms, sauteed Swiss chard and four cheeses. It's a great main dish to serve to company (vegetarians and carnivores alike) on a cold winter night.

The roasted mushrooms and sauteed chard can be refrigerated (separately) a day in advance. The tomato sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 6 months. Reheat thoroughly before assembling the lasagna. The assembled, unbaked lasagna can be wrapped (in its baking dish) in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Remember to remove the plastic wrap and re-cover with foil before baking.

For the mushrooms

1½ pounds mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, chanterelle, portobello and shiitake

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon fine salt, or more as needed

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the chard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin

1 pound Swiss chard, well washed and trimmed of tough stems, and sliced crosswise into ribbons

½ teaspoon fine salt

For the tomato sauce

1 clove garlic, lightly crushed

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with their juices

Fine salt

5 large fresh basil leaves

For the lasagna

1 pound Fresh Egg Pasta for Lasagna (see related recipe)

One 8-ounce ball whole-milk mozzarella, cut into small cubes

2 cups well-drained fresh, whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

4 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, shredded

Extra-virgin olive oil, for the baking dish

Salt, for the pasta cooking water

For the mushrooms: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the mushrooms with the oil in a large bowl, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread them out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast (middle rack) for 15 minutes, then toss with a spatula. Roast for 10 minutes more or until they are tender and browned. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl and toss with the minced parsley. Store, covered, in the refrigerator, until you are ready to assemble the lasagna.

For the chard: Heat the oil and garlic in a large, high-sided skillet set on medium-low heat. Cook 3 minutes, until the garlic is softened and fragrant but not browned. Add the chard by the handful, using tongs to coat it with the oil. Cover and cook, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes, or until the greens are wilted. Uncover and season with the salt. Cook 5 minutes more, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the greens to a bowl to cool. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the lasagna.

For the tomato sauce: Warm the garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Press down on the garlic with a wooden spoon or spatula to release the garlic flavor. Cook for 2 minutes, until it sizzles, but don't let it brown. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and their juice (the oil will spatter). Season with 1 teaspoon salt and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook gently, stirring now and again, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the oil is pooling on the surface.

Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. If not using right away, transfer the sauce to a container with a tightfitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat the sauce to a simmer before assembling the lasagna.

For the lasagna: Spread a clean tablecloth on a table or clean flat surface near the stove. Have ready the uncooked pasta, tomato sauce, chard, mushrooms and cheeses.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch lasagna or baking dish (or 2 smaller baking dishes) with the olive oil.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and salt generously (as in, 3 or 4 pinches of salt). Set a large bowl of ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the parboiled lasagna noodles.

Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagna noodles at a time, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil for about 1 minute; the noodles cook quickly and should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to transfer them to the ice-water bath. Swish them around, then use the skimmer to transfer them to the tablecloth, where you will spread them out flat.

To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce. Spread half the chard over the noodles and dot with half the mozzarella and ½ cup ricotta. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Make a second layer of sauce and noodles. Spread half the roasted mushrooms over the pasta, then dot with ½ cup ricotta and sprinkle with half the Fontina and 1 tablespoon Parm.

Make a third layer of sauce and noodles. Spread the remaining greens over the pasta and dot with the remaining mozzarella and ½ cup of the ricotta. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parm. Cover with a fourth layer of sauce and noodles. Then spread the remaining mushrooms on top and dot with the rest of the ricotta. Top with the remaining Fontina and 1 tablespoon Parm.

Make one more layer of sauce and noodles. Spread a final layer of sauce over them and sprinkle the remaining Parm on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes more, until it is bubbling inside and browned on top. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe from cookbook author Domenica Marchetti

Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel Sauce.
Bechamel Sauce. - Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

This is a good all-purpose white sauce, used in the recipes for Lasagna Alla Bolognese and Lasagna al Pesto.

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to three days in advance. Reheat it in a saucepan over low heat, adding milk if needed to loosen it to a pouring consistency.

3 cups whole or low-fat milk (2 percent)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup flour

1 teaspoon fine salt

Freshly ground white or black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Bring the milk just to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then remove from the heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring vigorously, for two minutes. Gradually add the hot milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps and scorching (the mixture will break apart at first but will eventually turn smooth). Cook the sauce for 10 to 13 minutes, stirring often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Taste and season lightly with the salt and pepper and the nutmeg, then remove from the heat.

Use right away, or cool, transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Makes 3 cups

Nutrition | Per cup (using low-fat milk): 300 calories, 9 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 960 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar

Fresh Egg Pasta for Lasagna

Fresh Egg Pasta for Lasagna.
Fresh Egg Pasta for Lasagna. - Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Here is Domenica Marchetti's go-to, five-ingredient pasta recipe, not only for lasagna sheets, but for many other pasta shapes, including ravioli. Be sure to add the lesser amount of all-purpose flour (2 cups) to the food processor to mix the dough at the start; you can always knead in more as needed; it's much easier to work in more flour than to add liquid if the dough is too stiff or dry.

A pasta rolling machine is helpful here; the author uses a hand-cranked Marcato Atlas machine.

The pasta dough needs to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. The pasta is best used the same day it is made.

2 to 2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon semolina flour, plus more for dusting

½ teaspoon fine salt

3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of the semolina flour and the salt in a food processor; pulse to incorporate. Pour in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Pulse just long enough for the mixture to resemble small curds. Pinch together a bit of the mixture; it should form a soft ball. If it seems dry, add the remaining tablespoon of oil and pulse briefly to incorporate. If the dough seems sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse to incorporate.

Sprinkle a little of the remaining all-purpose flour on a clean work surface and turn the dough mixture out onto it. Bring it together to form a rough mass and knead for several minutes, until smooth, incorporating only as much flour as necessary to form a firm, smooth ball. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Set up a pasta-rolling machine or a mixer with a pasta-roller attachment, with the rollers on the widest setting. Dust the work surface around the machine with semolina and keep more on hand for sprinkling on the dough as needed.

Cut the dough into 4 equal quarters and rewrap three. Flatten the remaining piece of dough and feed it through the machine. Lay it on the work surface and fold it in thirds, like a business letter. Sprinkle with a little semolina and feed it through the rollers again. Continue to fold and feed the dough through the widest setting two more times. Move the roller setting to the next narrower notch and feed the dough through this setting twice. Continue to pass the dough through the rollers twice on each setting until you have a strip that is about 28 inches long and about 1/16-inch thick -- setting #6 on a Marcato Atlas hand-cranked machine. You should be able to see the shadow of your hand through the sheet.

Sprinkle a little semolina flour on a baking sheet and lay the pasta sheets there as you work.

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and salt generously (as in, 3 or 4 pinches of salt). Set a large bowl of ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the cooked parboiled lasagna noodles. Spread a clean tablecloth on a table or clean, flat surface near the stove.

Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagna noodles at a time, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil for about 1 minute; the noodles cook quickly and should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to transfer them to the ice-water bath. Swish them around, then use the skimmer to transfer them to the tablecloth, where you will spread them out flat. Continue until you have cooked all the noodles. Use right away.

1 serving pound (enough for 1 large 9-by-13-inch lasagna or 2 smaller pans)

Nutrition | Per two-ounce serving: 170 calories, 6 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

From cookbook author Domenica Marchetti

Fresh Spinach Pasta for Lasagna

Emerald-green spinach noodles add an extra layer of luxury to lasagna. They are traditional in Emilia-Romagna's signature lasagna verde alla Bolognese, but can be used in many lasagna variations (or cut into fettuccine).

Pro tip from cookbook author Domenica Marchetti: If you have a potato ricer, put the briefly cooked spinach in the ricer and squeeze out excess moisture. This works beautifully and you don't have to wait for the spinach to cool.

The pasta dough needs to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. The pasta is best used the same day it is made.

8 ounces fresh spinach leaves

½ cup water, or more as needed

2 large eggs

2 to 2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon fine salt

Semolina flour, for dusting

Combine the spinach and the ½ cup of water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 5 minutes (stir once or twice during this time) until the spinach is wilted and tender. Drain; once the spinach is cool enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Really squeeze (see the headnote).

Transfer to a blender, add the eggs and puree until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl.

Combine 2 cups of the flour and the salt in a food processor; pulse to incorporate. Add the pureed spinach-egg mixture and pulse just long enough for the mixture to resemble small curds. Pinch together a bit of the mixture; it should form a soft ball. If it seems dry, add a few droplets of water and pulse briefly. If it seems sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse to incorporate.

Sprinkle a little of the remaining all-purpose flour on a clean work surface and turn the dough mixture out onto it. Bring it together to form a rough mass and knead for several minutes, until smooth, incorporating only as much flour as necessary to form a firm smooth ball. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Set up a pasta-rolling machine or a mixer with a pasta roller attachment, with the rollers on the widest setting. Dust the work surface around the machine with semolina and keep more on hand for sprinkling on the dough as needed.

Cut the dough into 4 equal quarters and rewrap 3. Flatten the remaining piece of dough and feed it through the machine. Lay it on the work surface and fold it in thirds, like a business letter. Sprinkle with a little semolina and feed it through the rollers again. Continue to fold and feed the dough through the widest setting two more times. Move the roller setting to the next narrower notch and feed the dough through this setting twice. Continue to pass the dough through the rollers twice on each setting until you have a strip that is about 28 inches long and about 1/16-inch thick -- setting #6 on a Marcato Atlas hand-cranked machine. You should be able to see the shadow of your hand through the sheet.

Sprinkle a little semolina flour on a baking sheet and lay the pasta sheets there as you work.

Makes 1 pound; enough for 1 large 9-by-13-inch lasagna or 2 smaller pans

Nutrition | Per 2-ounce serving: 140 calories, 6 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

From cookbook author Domenica Marchetti

Abruzzese-Style Lasagna With Meat Sauce and Mini Meatballs

Abruzzese-Style Lasagna With Meat Sauce and Mini Meatballs.
Abruzzese-Style Lasagna With Meat Sauce and Mini Meatballs. - Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

This is a hearty meat-based lasagna done in the classic "southern" Italian tradition with a tomato-based sauce, and ricotta and oozy mozzarella in the filling.

The tiny veal meatballs are optional; there's plenty of meat in the sauce already. But no respectable Abruzzese cook would leave them out.

The meat sauce can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance (or freeze for up to 6 months); reheat before using. You will have a tender mix of the chuck, pork shoulder and lamb shoulder left over, which can be used for sandwiches. The meatballs can be refrigerated in a tightly lidded container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

For the meat sauce

8 ounces beef chuck roast

8 ounces pork shoulder

8 ounces lamb shoulder

Fine salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably sunflower

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 carrot, scrubbed well and finely chopped

1 rib celery, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ cup dry white wine

7 cups tomato puree (passata di pomodoro)

Water (optional)

For the meatballs (optional)

12 ounces ground veal

½ teaspoon fine salt

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 egg, lightly beaten

Vegetable oil, for frying

For the lasagna

1 pound Fresh Egg Pasta for Lasagna (see related recipe)

1 pound well-drained fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or diced

1½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Olive oil

Salt, for the pasta cooking water

For the meat sauce: Pat the meats dry and season both sides of each piece with a little salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the meat and brown for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn and brown the other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a deep plate or bowl.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and parsley. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Increase the heat to medium-high; pour in the wine and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pot, along with the tomato puree. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low or low, partially cover and cook for 2 to 3 hours, stirring and turning the meat over occasionally, until the meat is fall-apart tender and the sauce is thick. Add a little water if the sauce thickens too much before the meat is done. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, as needed. Turn off the heat; use a skimmer to transfer the meat to a cutting board. Chop or shred a little of it -- about 1 cup -- and then return it to the pot. (Save the remaining meat to eat separately; it makes a good submarine sandwich filling.)

If not using right away, transfer the sauce to a container with a tightfitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. Reheat the sauce over medium-low heat before assembling the lasagna.

For the optional meatballs: Line a tray with wax paper and place it near a mixing bowl. Combine the veal, salt, nutmeg and egg in the bowl; use your clean hands to thoroughly incorporate. Pinch off a small pieces of the mixture and roll them into marble-size balls (smaller, if you are patient), placing them on the tray as you work.

Line a plate with paper towels. Pour enough vegetable oil to a depth of ¼ inch in a skillet and set over medium-high heat. Have a plate lined with paper towels nearby for draining the fried meatballs. Once the oil shimmers, carefully add the meatballs, working in batches to avoid crowding. Fry, rolling them around in the pan to prevent burning or sticking, until lightly browned. Transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. If not using them right away, refrigerate the meatballs in a tightly lidded container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

For the lasagna: Spread a clean tablecloth on a table or clean flat surface near the stove. Have ready the uncooked pasta, meat sauce, meatballs, cheeses and basil.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch lasagna or baking dish (or 2 smaller baking dishes) with olive oil.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and salt generously (as in, 3 or 4 pinches of salt). Set a large bowl of ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the parboiled lasagna noodles.

Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagna noodles at a time, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil for about 1 minute; the noodles cook quickly and should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to transfer them to the ice-water bath. Swish them around, then use the skimmer to transfer them to the tablecloth, where you will spread them out flat.

To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce. Dot with one-quarter of the ricotta and one-quarter of the mozzarella. Scatter one-quarter of the meatballs on top and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a big pinch of the shredded basil leaves.

Make a second layer of sauce and noodles. Again, in separate layers, top with ricotta, mozzarella, meatballs, Parmigiano cheese and basil. Make a third and fourth layer in the same way, then cover with a thin layer of sauce. Make a final layer of noodles and spread more sauce on top, to cover them completely. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano cheese on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes more, until it is bubbling inside and browned on top. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 10

From cookbook author Domenica Marchetti

Lasagna Alla Bolognese

Extravagant and rich, this is the lasagna of your dreams, with a sauce made from ground meat slowly simmered in broth and milk. To simplify the process, make the various components -- the Bolognese sauce, the béchamel, and the pasta -- in advance. You can even assemble the lasagna and freeze it, and then just pop it into the oven when you want to serve it.

Refrigerate the ragù in a tightly lidded container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Reheat on low, adding water if necessary to loosen the sauce.

For the sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large carrot, scrubbed well and finely chopped

1 large rib celery, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

¼ pound ground veal

1 cup dry white wine

Fine salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup whole milk

One 7-ounce can plain tomato paste

2 cups beef broth

½ cup heavy cream

3 ounces mortadella, finely chopped

For the lasagna

1 batch Fresh Spinach Pasta for Lasagna (see related recipe)

1 batch Béchamel Sauce (see related recipe)

1 batch Bolognese Sauce, heated

1½ cups (3 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Salt, for the pasta cooking water

For the sauce: Heat the butter and oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, stir in the carrot, celery, onion and parsley. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and golden. Mix in the beef, pork, and veal and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the large pieces of meat. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the meat has turned deep brown and is crumbly but still tender. This will take longer than you think, at least an hour to 90 minutes.

When the meat is ready, increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine, stirring for a minute or two until it is absorbed. Return the heat to medium-low and season with about 1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and the nutmeg. Stir in the milk and cook until it has been mostly absorbed, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, dilute the tomato paste in a little of the beef broth and add it to the pot. Add the remaining broth and mix well. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer slowly for 2 hours or more, until it is very thick and all of the vegetables have more or less melted into the sauce. Stir in the cream and mortadella and cook at a gentle simmer until heated through.

The sauce is ready to use or you can cool and transfer to a container; refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

For the lasagna: Spread a clean tablecloth on a table or clean flat surface near the stove. Have ready the uncooked pasta, béchamel, Bolognese sauce, and Parmigiano cheese.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by 13-inch lasagna or baking dish (or 2 smaller baking dishes) with the butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Set a large bowl of ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the cooked parboiled lasagna noodles.

Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagna noodles, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil for about 1 minute; the noodles cook quickly and should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to transfer the parboiled noodles to the ice water. Swish them around, then use the skimmer to remove them from the water. Spread them out on the tablecloth. Continue until you have cooked all the noodles.

Spread a thin layer of béchamel in the bottom of the lasagna dish. Arrange a single layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread a second layer of béchamel over the noodles, and top with a layer of Bolognese sauce. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of the Parmigiano cheese on top. Gently press a second layer of noodles on top, followed by béchamel, Bolognese sauce, and Parmigiano. Continue with at least 4 more layers of noodles, béchamel, Bolognese, and cheese. You should have at least six layers of noodles in your lasagna.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 to 20 more minutes, or until the lasagna is bubbling and the top is browned and crunchy at the edges. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 8 to 10

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 10): 620 calories, 33 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 38 g fat, 18 g saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, 970 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar

From cookbook author Domenica Marchetti

Lasagna al Pesto

Lasagna al Pesto.
Lasagna al Pesto. - Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

This is an elegant, special-occasion dish from Italy's Liguria region, and it will take time to assemble. We think the results are worth the effort.

Fresh pasta is essential here; dried noodles simply aren't thin or delicate enough to work here. If you're using store-bought fresh pasta that is on the thick side, use a rolling pin or pasta rolling machine to stretch the sheets to about 1/16-inch thickness before parboiling them.

The pesto and bechamel sauce can be refrigerated a day or two in advance. The pasta should be made the same day it is used. The assembled, unbaked lasagna can be wrapped (in its baking dish) in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Remember to remove the plastic wrap and re-cover with foil before baking.

For the pesto Genovese

5 tablespoons pine nuts

3 cups packed fresh basil leaves, preferably young and tender

2 cloves garlic, cut into a few pieces

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for covering the pesto

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino-Romano cheese, or a mix

For the lasagna

1 pound Fresh Spinach Pasta for Lasagna (see related recipe)

3 cups Bechamel Sauce, warmed (see related recipe)

12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta cheese, well drained

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

½ cup freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for the pan

Salt, for the pasta cooking water

For the pesto Genovese: Place the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet and toast over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan often, until nuts are lightly browned. Let cool. Reserve 2 tablespoons to garnish the lasagna.

Pack the basil in a food processor, then add the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the toasted pine nuts and the coarse sea salt. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Gradually pour in the oil; puree to form a paste. Scrape the pesto into a bowl, then stir in the cheese. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto. The yield is 1 packed cup.

For the lasagna: Spread a clean tablecloth on a table or clean, flat surface near the stove. Have ready the uncooked pasta, bechamel, pesto and cheeses.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch lasagna or baking dish (or 2 smaller baking dishes) with the butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and salt generously (as in, 3 or 4 pinches of salt). Set a large bowl of ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the cooked parboiled lasagna noodles.

Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagna noodles at a time, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil for about 1 minute; the noodles cook quickly and should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to transfer them to the ice-water bath. Swish them around, then use the skimmer to transfer them to the tablecloth, where you will spread them out flat. Continue until you have cooked all the noodles. Stir a little of the hot pasta water into the pesto to loosen it to a spreading consistency.

Spread a thin layer of the bechamel in the bottom of the lasagna dish. Arrange a single layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread a second layer of bechamel over the noodles, and top with about one-fifth of the thinned pesto. Dollop one-fifth of the ricotta on top of the pesto and use a spoon to spread it out a bit (it doesn't have to cover the entire surface). Sprinkle about one-sixth of the Parmigiano and/or pecorino on top. Gently press a second layer of noodles on top, followed by more bechamel, pesto, ricotta and grated cheeses. Continue with three more layers of noodles, bechamel, pesto and grated cheeses. Make a final (sixth) layer of noodles and top with the remaining bechamel. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top, then scatter the reserved 2 tablespoons of pine nuts on top of the lasagna.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more; the lasagna should be heated through with a nicely browned top. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 10

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 10): 440 calories, 16 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 31 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 820 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

Recipe from cookbook author Domenica Marchetti

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