Monday, 17 September 2012

Meat Free Monday - Lasagne Verdi

A fortnight or so ago, I was perusing iplayer, 4oD etc trying to find some good food TV to watch with my dinner. I came across an amazing thing - a current foody show that I had heard absolutely nothing about. While it was called Simply Italian, it was actually just pasta, as cooked by a pretty Welsh girl from an Italian family.

Not that there is anything wrong with just pasta. It's just not really representative of the breadth of Italian cooking, is it?

I particularly liked the way, over 4 episodes, Michela Chiappa built up from the most simple noodles that she rolled by hand, to much more elaborate filled pastas with more complicated techniques.

While I've made pasta quite a few times, I've never tried to make a spinach pasta. I thought the recipe for lasagne verdi with sage and walnut pesto looked absolutely gorgeous - plus our garden produces much more sage than we know what to do with.

I found making the pasta very straightforward. I was worried that the spinach would make it much stickier, but actually it was a really obedient paste.

First pass through the pasta machine
I had some really lovely, unpasteurised buffalo mozzarella (discounted - it'd be a seriously expensive dish otherwise!), which I tore up and scattered between the layers, rather than grating an older mozzarella. The only other change I made was to add 2 cloves of garlic to the pesto, instead of just a half. What use is half a clove of garlic?

I've heard a few times that the difference between proper Italian lasagne and what we usually get is the thickness of the layers - this lasagne was 5 very thin layers, quite different from the 3 thicker layers I'd normally do.

Ready for baking
It... was absolutely delicious. I think the lemon zest and juice is absolutely crucial. Without it, I think it would have been quite stodgy and hard work, but as it was the flavours were light and zingy. I thought there was a subtle flavour of spinach in the pasta itself, which was very nice. Plus the sheets of pasta were so much thinner than commercial ones, I honestly don't think I will go back to bought pasta, even "fresh" for lasagne.

Luscious and bubbling, but unexpectedly fresh-tasting


Suelle said...

That sounds really good! My other half says he's inspired to make pasta since watching these programmes, but he's not done anything about it yet! Quelle surprise!

Choclette said...

This sounds like the best lasagne ever. I've never made pasta but I am absolutely sure it will be heaps better than any you can buy. I have made sage and walnut pesto a number of times though and I'm a big fan - as long as it's made with young leaves. I made the mistake once of using them at the end of the season and got a really tough, twiggy texture which put me off for a while.

C said...

That looks very lovely and delicious indeed. I haven't quite got into really making pasta myself. So far I don't have a pasta machine.

The Cat's Mother said...

that looks so good!

Faux Fuchsia said...

looks fantastic x

Mary Bergfeld said...

This sounds amazing. I'm intrigued by a 5 layer lasagna.You certainly made it look and sound delicious. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Alicia Foodycat said...

Suelle - you should make him have a go!

Choclette - oh yes, I bet older leaves would make it really unpleasant.

C - I've only made it with a pasta machine, but my aunt did really well for a while just using a rolling pin!

Mother - I recommend it.

Fuschia - well, it's carbs and cheese, so you can't really go wrong!

Mary - you really do just spread the thinnest layer of filling on each layer of pasta. I will try it this way with a meat lasagne soon.

Rebecca said...

I have been away from blog land for a month or so and what bliss it is to come back and read your post! You are right about this lasagne - it sounds and looks simply gorgeous. I must try it! I have never made lasagne sheets myself - other pasta shapes, but not lasagne - but you have convinced me to try it. Thanks for the inspiration hon! Becks xxx

mscrankypants said...

The finished product looks amazing. I checked out her stuff on the web site and the pasta looks delish ... oozy egg raviolo yummmm.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Becks - it's so much easier to just make the sheets and not have to cut them!

Cranky - I thought that looked wonderful, but mr runny-eggs-are-snotty won't have them in the house.

Caroline said...

That looks amazing. Delicious and oozy in the best possible way! I'm not brave enough to make my own pasta, but if I were, this would be on the list!

grace said...

the finished product looks AMAZING! golly gee, how i love the look, smell, and taste of browned cheese. nice job!

Anonymous said...

I'm always on the lookout for new veggie lasagnes to try, and this looks like a great one - although without a pasta machine I'm not sure how well I would get on with make my own lasagne sheets!


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