Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Gourmet's" Lasagne Bolognese with Spinach


***I just love Gourmet magazine. I'd love it even if the only great thing about it were the recipes, but you know what?...it's always got great articles too. There are very few magazines that I read cover-to-cover. Gourmet has a permanent spot among those few.

When I was making my way through the recent January 2009 issue (fabulous, by the way!), I came across a beautiful picture of some amazing-looking lasagne. I present to you - Lasagne Bolognese with Spinach. Now, I must warn you...this is not your typically cheesy, meaty, heavier lasagne. This spinach-based recipe is a lighter, drier version. It's also definitely not a quick-and-easy recipe...it took me quite a while from start to finish. However, it's worth the effort!!! You should give this one a chance...at least once. It's the perfect thing to cook on a lazy Sunday afternoon.***

Lasagne Bolognese with Spinach
Serves: 8
Active time: 1 hr
Start to finish: 3 1/4 hr
January 2009

From Gourmet magazine:
"In the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, lasagne bolognese is usually made with a besciamella sauce. Italian-American cooks often replace that time-consuming step with ricotta. In this wickedly good interpretation, food editor Melissa Roberts combines the two traditions by whisking milk into some of the ricotta, creating a billowy pseudo-besciamella (the remaining ricotta mixture is stirred together with spinach). We rarely call for specific brands, but we did find that widely available Barilla no-boil dried noodles produced an exemplary lasagne. An egg pasta, this one comes very close to the flavor and delicacy of homemade.Watch food editor Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez demonstrate how to make your own fresh ricotta, and learn the story behind this dish in our series The Recipe."

For bolognese sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 oz sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lb ground beef chuck (not lean)
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
For ricotta filling:
2 (10-oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 (15-oz) containers whole-milk ricotta
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup whole milk, divided

For assembling lasagne:
12 Barilla no-boil dried lasagne noodles (from 1 box)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Equipment:
a 13- by 9-inch baking pan (3 inches deep)
Make sauce:
Heat oil in a 12- to 14-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are golden and softened, 12 to 15 minutes. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps, until meat is no longer pink, 6 to 10 minutes. Stir in wine, milk, tomato paste, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp pepper. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated but sauce is still moist, about 1 hour.
Make ricotta filling:
Put spinach in a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and twist to squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Whisk together ricotta, eggs, parmesan, nutmeg, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Transfer 1 1/2 cups ricotta mixture to another bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup milk; set aside. Whisk spinach into remaining filling with remaining 1/2 cup milk.
Assemble and bake lasagne:
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Soak noodles in a bowl of very warm water until pliable but not softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Place on a kitchen towel (it's not necessary to pat noodles dry).
Spread 1 1/2 cups bolognese sauce in baking pan and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp parmesan. Cover with 3 noodles, leaving space in between. Spread half of spinach filling on top, then 1 cup bolognese sauce, and top with 1 Tbsp parmesan and 3 noodles; repeat. Top with remaining bolognese sauce, 1 Tbsp parmesan, and remaining 3 noodles. Pour reserved ricotta mixture over top and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.
Cover pan tightly with parchment paper and foil (or just buttered foil) and bake 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake until top is browned in spots, about 15 minutes more. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes before cutting.
Cooks’ notes:
Bolognese sauce can be made 2 days ahead and chilled (covered once cool).
Lasagne can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven, loosely covered with foil.

2 comments:

Joelen said...

Looks delicious! Your pictures are amazing!

Donna-FFW said...

This loooks wonderful. I saw it in Gourmet as well. Your photos are to die for!I would love some of that right now!