Mario Batali's Lasagne alla Bolognese al Forno

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Step 1: Making the Ragu

Making the Ragu

To begin the ragu, first émincé the garlic. Finely chop the onions, celery and carrots.

Next, preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil and vegetables (also known as mirepoix) and let cook until translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes or so.

Gather the veal and pork. Very finely chop the pancetta or cut it into quarters and then pulse it in a food processor until ground. Once the vegetables are translucent, add all of the meat and increase the heat to high. Let the meat brown, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes.

While the meat cooks, gather white wine, milk, tomato paste and thyme. Once the meat has browned nicely, add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Then add the white wine, milk and fresh thyme. Stir again, scraping the bottom if needed. Let everything come just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

As the ragu cooks, remember to stir it occasionally, to prevent it from sticking or scorching. In the meantime, you can prepare the besciamella.

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 ribs celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 4 oz pancetta
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Step 2: Making the Besciamella

Making the Besciamella

To make the besciamella, heat a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Once melted, add the flour to create a roux and stir until smooth. Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until it turns a light-golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat the milk to just under a boil. Once the mixture has browned and the milk has heated, add the milk to the roux, about one cup at a time. Whisk constantly, until very smooth, bringing it back to a boil each time. Once all of the milk has been incorporated and the mixture has come back up to a gentle boil, turn the heat to low and let cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. The sauce should nicely coat the back of a spoon. Once done, remove from the heat and season with the salt and freshly-grated nutmeg. Transfer to a bowl and place plastic wrap directly onto the surface, to prevent a skin from forming. Leave a bit of space around the edges for the steam to escape while it cools.

Now, you can prepare the spinach to make the green pasta dough.

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 to 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Step 3: Preparing the Spinach

Preparing the Spinach

To prepare the spinach, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil and set up an ice bath next to the stove.

Blanch the spinach leaves in the boiling water for 45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider and immediately plunge into the ice bath to cool.

Once cool, using a strainer, squeeze out the excess water. Then place the spinach onto a kitchen towel and twist it to remove as much moisture as possible. Once the spinach is dry, set it aside and check on the ragu.

  • 3 qt water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 cup packed, fresh spinach leaves (3.5 ounces)

Step 4: Checking the Ragu

Checking the Ragu

The ragu should be cooked until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, however, it should still be moist. Once it is done, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool.

  • sea salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Step 5: Making the Green Pasta Dough

Making the Green Pasta Dough

To make the pasta dough, chop the spinach very finely and combine it with the eggs. Mix until well combined. Mound the flour on the countertop and make a well in the center. Add the spinach/egg mixture. Begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the outside edge of the flour to retain the well shape (don’t worry if it looks messy).

When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough should begin to come together. Start to gently knead the dough with your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour. As soon as the dough comes together in a cohesive mass, set it aside. Don't worry if you have more than 1 cup of flour that has not been incorporated. Scrape up any dried bits of dough and leftover flour and discard. A bench scraper is the perfect tool for this.

Then lightly flour the countertop and continue kneading for about 10 minutes. Dust with a bit of flour, each time the dough sticks to your hands or the counter. Scrape the counter from time to time, just to make sure any dried bits aren’t being incorporated into the dough.

After kneading for about ten minutes, the dough should be smooth and soft and just a touch tacky, but it should no longer be sticking to your hands or the countertop.

Once ready, wrap it in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling it out.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra (for kneading)
  • 5 large eggs

Step 6: Rolling the Pasta Dough

Rolling the Pasta Dough

To roll the pasta, first divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Set one piece aside and cover the remaining pieces with plastic wrap so they don't dry out.

Flatten the dough into a disc-like shape that is somewhat thicker in the middle and about 1/4" -inch thick at the edges. Lightly dust the dough with a bit of flour. Whether using a hand crank or an electric pasta machine, adjust the rollers to the widest setting and begin to feed the dough through.

As the flattened piece of dough emerges, catch it gently so it doesn’t tear. Then fold the dough into thirds (like an envelope), flatten it slightly again and very lightly dust it with flour to prevent it from sticking. Repeat this process 5 times on the first setting.

Once done, set the rollers to the next-thinnest setting and repeat the folding and rolling process 6 times. If the dough feels sticky, as you roll it, very lightly dust it with flour.

At the third setting, repeat the process only 3 times. Now, without folding the dough, roll it once through each of the progressively-thinner settings. Do not pull the sheets of pasta out of the machine; rather, support them lightly underneath as they emerge. If the pasta sheet becomes too long to work with easily, you can cut it in half. Then continue to roll the pieces of dough until you have reached the thinnest setting.

When finished, the pasta sheets should be very thin and smooth. Place the sheets onto a lightly-floured surface to air dry for about 10 minutes.

Next, cut each sheet into approximately 5" -inch squares and cover with a clean, damp cloth.

  • all-purpose flour (for dusting)

Step 7: Cooking the Pasta Sheets

Cooking the Pasta Sheets

To cook the pasta, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and then add the salt. Set up an ice bath next to the stovetop and add the oil to the ice bath.

Place 6 or 7 pieces of pasta into the boiling water. Cook until tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Once cooked, gently lift the sheets out of the water with a spider.

Immediately plunge them into the ice bath to cool. Separate any folded noodles, so they cool quickly and don’t stick together. Remove the noodles from the ice bath, drain and lay flat on clean kitchen towels.

Continue to cook the remaining pasta, replenishing the ice bath with more ice as it melts. Once all of the noodles are cooked, you are ready to begin assembling the lasagne.

  • 6 L/qt cold water
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • ice (for ice bath)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Step 8: Assembling the Lasagne

Assembling the Lasagne

Before assembling the lasagne, preheat your oven to 375º degrees Fahrenheit.

Grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano into a bowl and set aside. Then gather the besciamella and give it a good stir to make sure it is nice and smooth. Have the ragu and your lasagne pan ready.

To begin assembling, spread a layer of ragu over the bottom of the pan and top with a bit of the cheese. Then add a layer of pasta. It is okay if the noodles overlap slightly. Add a thin layer of besciamella, spreading it out slightly. Add another layer of ragu. Because the pasta is so delicate and thin, you can create many layers; so, don’t worry about every spot being covered with filling. Sprinkle with the cheese and add another layer of pasta. Continue and repeat the same process, layering the noodles, besciamella, ragu and then the cheese. The last layer should be a layer of noodles topped with a generous coating of besciamella. Spread the besciamella out to cover the edges so the noodles don’t dry out during baking.

Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and bake for approximately 45 minutes. When done, the edges and top should be slightly browned and the sauces should be bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving and enjoy one of the best lasagne’s you’ll ever have.

  • 8 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano

Notes

Step 6
Before rolling the dough, make sure there aren’t any bits of dried dough on the rollers from last time. The rollers of the pasta machine should be clean and dry. You may want to dust them with a bit of flour, to be sure they are completely dry.

You can also prepare pasta sheets in advance and freeze them raw. Just place them onto a tray, separated by layers of parchment paper. Wrap the entire tray tightly with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Cook from frozen.

Step 7
If you are using frozen lasagna noodles, add them directly to the water without thawing.

Step 8
For this recipe, Mario suggests using a 10 x 20-inch lasagne pan, but you can use any size of baking dish. A large the baking dish will result in a lasagne with fewer layers, which will take a shorter amount of time to bake. By using a smaller baking dish, you'll be able to create a thicker lasagne with more layers.

When assembling, don't make each layer really thick. Less is more. These noodles are so delicate, it's great to make more layers. Make sure you keep about 1 cup of besciamella for the top.

And just in case you were wondering:
Lasagna (with an "a")- refers to the noodle
Lasagne (with an "e")- refers to the dish

Betty L

Yummm

I am so glad you've added a recipe from Mario Batali (hopefully there'll be many more). I've made his lasagne bolognese several times even before it appeared on Roube and it is probably the best recipe out there for lasagna. The ragu is also very good as a ravioli filling or tossed with pasta. Mario's recipes have changed my whole way of making Italian food and family and friends all have commented that the results are very close, if not equal, to restaurant quality. The fresh pasta really does make a difference and is really not that difficult to make with either a manual or electric pasta maker. I do take a short cut by using a food processor to mix the dough (just by pulsing all the ingredients till a ball forms and dough just cleans the work bowl).

Joe  G
Rouxbe Staff

Full Pasta Course Coming in Cooking School

Just wait :)

Donald D

Fun to make and even better to eat!!

I knew I would love making this recipe when I read it. The only comments I can make are: Allow at least 5 hours to prepare. Have plenty of counter space & clean towels, and I did use both my cooktops. The effort was rewarded with the best lasagne I have ever tasted. Next time, however, I will make the pasta ahead of time & freeze it, as it is worth the extra effort, but quite time consuming. This should bring the total prep time down to about 3-1/2 hours.

Angie S

Awesome

It took a while, but the results were great. I made the noodles over one weekend and froze them...then I made the ragu and besciamella and put it all together the following weekend. The kitchen got a little messy, but the end result was the most delicious lasagna ever. Thank you for the recipe!

Carolyn R

Absolutely delicious

I did not make my own pasta, but did find fresh pasta sheets..This dish was out of this world..I added a couple links of italian sausage for additional flavor..everything else was perfect..True, it is time consuming, but worth every bite. Love to see more recipes from Mario!

Patricia S

Worth the work!!

I've made this recipe 3 times now. It is a fair amount of work but worth it. This will be a fun recipe to make in the winter on a cold day when all you want to do is stay in and cook. Mario's Lasagne is by far the best I have ever had. For those of you on the prairies, fresh nutmeg can sometimes be hard to find. I have usually found it a health food store or when in Alberta at a Nutter's.

Jose P

Sensational

I just tried my first shot with this recipe and all the family were amazed. I still have to work my way trough the pasta roller and reduce the work time.

Next Time I will try to have in advance as much as possible to not have starving everyone :P ( At least the pasta and besciamella)

Kevin W

unforttunately, the opposite

I made this dish today and was extremely disappointed in the taste. I also bought fresh pasta sheets instead of making my own, but that wasn't the issue.
I think the nutmeg completely dominated the dish and didn't go well at all with the ragu. I had a couple of friends and family here when I tried it and they agreed.
I guess I would try this one more time without the nutmeg, but for all the work involved, I sure wasn't happy with the result.

Joe  G
Rouxbe Staff

Just out of Curiousity...

How much nutmeg did you use Kevin? I ask because in my 28 years of cooking, this is the best lasagna I have ever tried and we've made is so many times. And... I'm not a nutmeg fan.

Sorry the results were less than stellar for you.

Kevin W

not even as much as it called for

Joe,
Not even as much as it called for, I only used 1/4 tsp. The Ragu was delicious, I would use that in other dishes. I'll give it one more try with very little nutmeg and see how it comes out.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Try it Without the Nutmeg Even

Nutmeg is not for everyone. If you liked the ragu and you liked pasta, then all you have to do is flavor the besciamella until you like it - with or without the nutmeg.

Also, did you use fresh or ground nutmeg? I know Joe is not a fan of nutmeg (though, I use it more than he knows), and I almost always use fresh nutmeg. I feel it has a fresher more nutty flavor than already ground nutmeg.

One other comment. For this Lasagne, the pasta sheets have to be very thin. Many pasta sheets sold commercially are quite a bit thicker than those in Mario's recipe. I feel strongly that this makes a big difference to the texture and delicate nature of this dish. You can still use a pasta machine and roll out commercial pasta sheets, to make them a bit thinner.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

Kevin W

seems right...

I used fresh nutmeg, which is normally something I enjoy in dishes, such as a wonderful butternut squash ravioli I made up. I did buy fresh pasta sheets from an italian pasta shop and ran them through my pasta machine all the way down to the lowest setting.
I appreciate your help, I'll make this again soon and we'll see what happens :)

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Thanks Kevin

Don't feel like you have to like something just because we said so. Everyone has different tastes and that is why the world is such an exciting and great place...we all have different tastes.

Love the effort though. Would also love your recipe for butternut squash ravioli...it's one of my favorites.

Ciao dawn

Hanna D

Ho Hum

I did not make this lasagna recipe but I have made the Ragu from Mario's cookbook (same recipe). I found the Ragu to be bland and somewhat greasy tasting.

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

Better With Whole Recipe

I think the ragu is better when made with the noodles and bechamel, as they soak up the sauce nicely. They also add lots of flavor to the lasagne.

That being said I am sorry you didn't love it. There is another ragu style sauce on Rouxbe called "Sun-dried Tomato Sauce"
http://news.rouxbe.com/recipes/33/text
This recipe is a bit spicier as it has spicy Italian and fennel sausage. It has always been a big hit.

Thanks for sharing, kimberley

Valdemar R

Couple more thoughts on the ragu

If you just want to make the ragu, you can drain the fat off once it is rendered before adding the other ingredients. Ground meats will vary in the amount of fat they contain. So feel free to drain it off.

Linda W

Question

Can I substitute soy milk for regular milk?

Joe  G
Rouxbe Staff

If you can thicken soy milk with a roux

Not sure I'm the best one to the answer this because I'm not a huge fan of soy milk but if you can thicken it with a roux it should work. I have tried this with Tayo (potato-based milk product) and it works fine. Tayo is a bit sweeter in flavor than soya milk though.

Mike S

worth the wait.

Took us a total of 6 hours, because we timed things wrong, but it was absolutely amazing. I was afraid there was way too much garlic in the ragu at first, especially since my mom didn't chop it very thin, but it turned out perfect.
I didn't find the nutmeg to be too much, we grated our own, and we made the pasta ourselves as well, which takes longer than you think, haha.
Our past machine only goes down to thinness of "6" but if yours goes further, use it, i think it could have been even better with thinner layers. Also, we did not have such a large pan so we used 10x13 and 8x8 le creuset bakers and it worked out perfect.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Glad that you liked it

Yes, it is time consuming...but so very yummy! I also agree with you that the thinner the pasta, the better. The roller I have goes to #9 and this gives you paper thin noodles.

I also agree with you, the pasta certainly does take longer than you think to roll out, this is also why I have a motor for my pasta machine (what a dream it is).

However, I think the fact that this lasagne does take longer to make than many pasta dishes, helps to make it taste just that much better.

Mindy P

Fabulous

I love this recipe. Have made it several times--including yesterday for friends. They were amazed as they had never had this type of lasagne before. My husband says it's the best pasta dish he's ever eaten. Re: nutmeg--I only use a grating or two of fresh nutmeg-not 1/2 tsp-and it's just enough to give the beschimella a little depth.

Like Betty L above, I also make my pasta in the food processor. Comes out great every time. After struggling with a manual pasta machine (always felt like I needed another hand!) I bought the pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid mixer and now making pasta is a cinch.

Naouar E

No pork..

I know that the combination of ground veal, pork and pancetta probably make this lasagne, but I don't eat pork. Will this recipe be also good if I used only the ground veal? Or maybe with a combination of another meat?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: No Pork

Instead of using ground pork perhaps try using a bit of ground beef along with the ground veal. You are correct that it will not taste the same, but if you don't eat pork...well you don't eat pork. In the end it will still be very nice.

Vincent D

My First Shot at a Rouxbe Recipe

Today is the day that I am taking a shot at preparing my first Rouxbe recipe. And I can't wait! Last year, I went to a restaurant in NY called Union Square Market and chef Carmen Quagliata served the best lasagne I ever ate, which seems to be very similar to Batali's lasagne bolognese. I think he used added some ricotta and mushrooms as well. I almost felt guilty eating it because my wife, Sabrina, wasn't with me to taste it. So, we are both making this lasagne together today. Hope it comes out good. Will let you know how it goes.

Here are the things that we are adding to the recipe, let me know your thought if you have any before we start:
1. Fresh Ricotta - we are making our fresh ricotta from this dish (we plan on adding ricotta to a few layers with the besciamella)
2. Tomato Paste - we are using an Estratto from Sicily for the ragu
3. Mushrooms and/or peas (maybe) for the ragu - let me know your thoughts
4.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: My First Shot...

Good luck with the recipe Vincent. As for the things you are adding this part is up to you.

I will say this though, one of the things I love about Mario's recipe is the simplicity of it. Also, when following a particular recipe there are times when I like to follow the recipe exactly (well almost) just to see how it is as it was intended. Then I tweak after that...but then again sometimes I do exactly what you are doing. Again this is entirely up to you...and your taste buds.

The paper-thin noodles are a big part of what makes this dish so amazing, along with the delicious besciamella.

Of course for you first "Rouxbe Recipe" you picked a biggy! Talk about taking the bull by the horns :-)

Good Luck, and let us know if you need anything. Also let us know how it turns out.

Vincent D

Verdict is In!

Everything was well worth the work. We made some modifications to the recipe and we feel it was worth it. Being Sicilian, we couldn't really imagine a lasagne without ricotta, so that was probably the biggest modification that we made to the recipe, but we made our own ricotta from scratch. The other addition was some finely diced portabella mushrooms to the ragu.

The best advice for this recipe is the thin layers of the pasta dough. If it is too thick, it will change the consistency of the dish altogether. I think the next time we make it, we are going to add some whole garlic cloves to the besciamella for flavoring.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Verdict is In!

Would love your recipe for fresh ricotta...how much did you use and how did you incorporate it into the lasagne?

If you want to add your ricotta recipe to the test kitchen here is the link: http://news.rouxbe.com/recipes/text

Glad you liked it...it is a fair amount of work but it sure is yummy!

Lucia maria D

Tasty

I loved this recipe as its is nice and lite I added a special kick by adding some Red Chillie paste.Every one in my family loved the recipe

Giulio R

Perfect

Absolutely perfect! I saw my grandmother roll the dough and i perceived the smell of ragù!

Only one..... Spinach serve only to color dough.

Richard yassel D

the ragu bolognese is the best

I have made the bolognese before, and its absolutely perfect especially when you add the milk towards the end it becomes so goowy and yumm.

Matthew B

Can this dish be cooked ahead?

Next weekend I am traveling to see my sister and other family. I'd love to take this lasagna so we can enjoy a "family meal" together. Can this be made ahead? I'm thinking 2 possibilities - first assemble and then freeze to bake at her house, or second, make the entire dish including the cooking, then freeze to be reheated at her house.

Whaddyathink?

Thank you!

Matthew.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Cooking Lasagna Ahead?

Yes this can be prepared ahead. I have never done it with this particular lasagna (which is very delicate) but I am sure that it would be fine. I do suggest preparing it and then freezing it. Bake it the day you want to eat it.

Here is another thread that talks a bit about this as well.

One thing though...when you say you are taking it somewhere else...how long will it be out of the freezer? I say this as frozen lasagna is generally best cooked from frozen.

Good luck!

Matthew B

about 3 hours

I imagine. We have a baking dish that lives in its own little insulated carrying case that seems to be fairly effective. I suppose another option would be to assemble the dish the night before, refrigerate overnight, transport in a cooler - and then bake when we get there? ...or assemble the morning of travel - but I would rather avoid that scenario!

Matthew B

... or option 3

take all components in separate containers, assemble and bake there! This is complicated eh?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Options...

You could take everything separately and assemble there, but that may be more work than you want...having to package up the noodles etc. I say assemble it the night before and then just travel with it and bake it there.

Of course you could always just make something simpler :-) like spaghetti and meatballs or something...just a thought!

Matthew B

Lasagna Pan

We have a pyrex 9 x 13 x 2 all purpose baking dish as well as a Mario Batali enamel covered cast iron "Lasagna Pan" which measures 9 x 13 x 3 high. Which would you recommend for this dish?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Lasagne Pan

Either would work just fine. If you watch step 8 you will see that we used one just like your Mario Batali pan, but like I said, it really doesn't matter as this is not a really thick lasagne.

Matthew B

Post Lasagne Report

Owing to the freeze in Texas over the weekend, we did not travel north as planned - instead made the dish at home to enjoy with friends. First off - Dawn you make this look easy! We had purchased a kitchenaid pasta rolling attachment that has 8 settings. The funny thing was, that the pasta sheets became malformed when putting through the roller at any thickness thinner than 5. By "malformed" I mean that the sheets actually appeared to shrink as they exited the roller (wider going in than coming out) and the edges had a wave-like undulating appearance. What do you suppose would cause that? Some other observations - the ragu was phenomenal however I think that I must have let the Besciamella thicken more than I should. The flavor of the end result was great, however it was a little dry - (any ideas?) probably due to operator error with the Besciamella. I'd certainly appreciate any comments with regards to the rolling out of the dough - and any further input regarding the use of a food processor in the initial step would be helpful also!

Thank you,

Matthew.

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Pasta rolling

Two possibilities. 1) The dough needed some rest before rolling - this minimizes shrinking. 2) The dough dried out a little, which explains the undulations. I recommend resting the dough wrapped with a warm cloth at room temperature for about 1 hour before rolling. Also, check to see that the machine's rollers are totally parallel. But keep at it. It takes a few tries to roll like a pro.

Matthew B

Resting dough

Thanks Tony. We had wrapped the dough for an hour in plastic wrap at room temp prior to rolling - however will try your recommendation next time! I take it that you use the warm cloth instead of the plastic wrap in this case?

Matthew B

Warm cloth

how do you make the cloth warm?

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

warm cloth

Run it under warm or hot water and wring it.

Francois G

The best lasagna ever!

I've made this recipe three times now and it's only getting better. I got rave review this weekend. Making the pasta takes a bit of practice but it gets easier (and faster) with experience.

I do have a question about the ragu though. Typically I believe you would cook the meat first and then add the mirepoix. Is there any reason why it's done in the reverse order in this recipe?

Also I'm thinking of trying a variant where I'd make raviolis using the ragu as filling and the bechamel as the sauce. What do you think?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: The best lasagna ever!

Glad you like this...it is one of my favorite lasagne's as well.

As for the why do we add the mirepoix at the beginning, this is because the mirepoix is the flavor base. It is used to add layers of flavor to the meat as it slowly cooks. If you were to add the mirepoix separately the flavors wouldn't have the time to become such good friends!

I think that your variant of making ravioli's with the ragu sounds delicious...as does the bechamel suace. You go also make a cream sauce to go with the raviolis, or even just a nice butter sauce.

Good luck, keep up the good work!

Francois G

Mirepoix question follow-up

Hi Dawn,

Thanks for your encouraging comments regarding the ravioli idea.

I appreciate your point about the mirepoix but my question was really about the fact that in general when cooking meat this way you would typically (I believe) first brown the meat, remove it, sweat the veggies and add the meat back. In the lasagna recipe the veggies are sweated and then the uncooked meat is added. Is this just a convenient simplification or is there a particular reason to do it this way?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Mirepoix question follow-up

I tend not to question the Italians and how they make ragu :-) Honestly though, there a million ways to do a million things, this recipe just happens to do it this way.

Francois G

Re: Mirepoix question follow-up

That's what I thought. :-) Thanks.

Liz S

Ragu Raviolis

I thought the idea of using the ragu for ravioli was brilliant. I happened to have some leftover ragu and leftover wonton wrappers in the freezer and also some fresh leftover Rouxbe tomato sauce from making the chicken parmigiana. So I made some triangular shaped wontons and added some cream to the tomato sauce , reduced it a bit and made them into appetizers adding some fresh basil and parmesan cheese on top. I thought the wonton wrappers were a bit fragile for the ragu but both my guests said that is what they liked about the appetizer. Thanks for the idea Francois:)

Francois G

Ragu Raviolis

Au plaisir Liz.

I was actually looking for something to do with all of the lasagna noodles I have left over (I froze them). I haven't gotten around to doing the ravioli yet but I'll post something when I do.

Carol P

Why boil the noodles?

I made this recipe and loved it! As I was building the lasagna, I wondered why fresh noodles need to be boiled before assembling because it seems like they would cook just fine during baking. I made a second pan with leftover ingredients and didn't bother to boil the noodles, which saved a lot of time and clean up, and it seemed to taste just as good. Have you tried skipping the boiling step?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Why boil the noodles?

I have never tried this recipe without boiling the noodles. Most Italians will say that if the lasagna noodles are not boiled first it can result in gummier pasta. They would also say that the noodles are never meant to soak up the sauce and this sauce in particular is already quite dry.

That being said, we are all free to experiment and see what works for us. Thanks for reporting your feedback about this Carol. Cheers!

K A

WoW .....

This is the perfect lasagna , I don't need to look any where else. The paper thin pasta makes all the difference and the ragu is just WoW .
I took me a lot of time but it definitely worth it.
I made the pasta in my food processor but I actually regret it now, it was too big for my processor to handle I had to divide the dough in half and continue my work on batches. One more thing what could happen if I used more liquid by mistake ? I really suffered when kneading my dry dough so I had to add more liquid , but it tasted great.
One more thing : Why did we have to roll this dough differently than what we learned at the school ?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: WoW

Flour contains different levels of humidity from day to day, especially season to season. Depending on how you measured it, you may require a bit more or less liquid to create the proper dough consistency, so no worries there.

There are many ways to roll pasta. The main thing is to develop the gluten to make the dough elastic and stretchy. Glad you enjoyed the dish!

Omar E

No Pasta Roller

Is it still possible to make this pasta.
If not, then how much dry pasta should I use for this recipe and any suggestions on good brands?

Thank you,

Omar

Omar E

No Pasta Roller 2

I meant to say: is it still possible to make this pasta without a roller?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: No Pasta Roller

A pasta roller is quite important for this recipe, at least if you want to recreate the paper-thin noodles. That being said, if you are okay with something thicker then you can try using ready-made or fresh lasagna noodles. Just keep in mind the final result will be quite different. Cheers!

Hesham K

This is a win!

I just made this with friends and we had it for dinner. It was spectacular. I loved every component; the thin pasta, the bolognese, and the besciamela w/ nutmeg.

I will definitely be making this again!

Bill P

rollerless pasta

While I usually use a machine, I have made this without before. It just takes a bit of time, flour and patience. Work slowly, rolling from the middle, trying to keep the dough relaxed. Flip and dust the dough with flour often. I take it down to, say, .5 to 1 mm or so. A French rolling pin is a definite help as you can lean on one edge over thick spots a bit to help keep things even. It may not be as perfect as a machine, but it worth a shot. :-)

Definitely one of my favorite recipes. Got a batch sealed in the freezer right now!

Memoria J

Ragù ahead of time? Pasta ahead of time?

Can you make the ragù ahead of time, like the day before? Also, what is the best way to store the pasta if making it one day ahead? Is freezing the only way? Lastly, how do you start preparing the pasta after king it out of the freezer?

Memoria J

Non-alcoholic Substitute for White Wine

I don't drink or allow alcohol in my house, so is there a substitute for the wine?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

Substitutes for White Wine

There are plenty of options that have been suggested in the forum. You can follow this link or you can type "substitutes for white wine" in the search bar on the upper right of any page. Cheers!

Joe K

Nonna has it right

A variation on this recipe has been in the family for a very long time, so I feel compelled to comment. While excellent, and gives Nonna's recipe some competition (sorry Nonna), I think you're putting the cart before the horse, and making a great lasagna dish far more difficult than it should be.

1. The key is the thinly-rolled pasta and the many layers or flavor it allows. Don't let the work involved in creating the spinach lasagna put you off. It's not necessary to creating a truly great lasagna. Think back to basics... layering in flavors. We can do the same here, with much less work IMHO.

2. You don't need to make the spinach noodles as shown. They are a lot of work, and you can achieve equivalent--IMHO better taste, presentation and variety--by layering in cooked spinach, sauce and pristine very simple white thin noodles. Again, the very thin noodles that make it possible to combine many layers are what make this lasagna special--not that the noodles are made with spinach.

Spinach noodles are nice, but IMHO add little substance and a lot of work-unless you insist on the contrast with the red ragu, which is fine, but don't let that stop you. There are far more and interesting variations. Start with thin rolled pasta--which is really the key to this lasagna--and, if you like, work up to spinach noodles later if you like.

3. You don't need to make the pasta pieces as precise as shown in the recipe--when Nonna makes it (and as I make it), it is always a "patchwork quilt" of pieces--some pieces are 18"+ long, some are bits and pieces. We generally make/cook the noodles as large as possible, then cut them as needed as we assemble the dish. If there are odds-and-ends, we assemble as needed/desired.

The general assembly is: prepare the basic dough; cut into pieces; put into bags and refrigerate for a few hours; roll out into as long/thin noodles as you can manage; get a big pot of boiling/salted water and an ice bath; roll out the noodles; cook the noodles (then dunk in ice bath); remove excess moisture from noodles (a Squeegee works well or lay them on towels). Given that you have all your other ingredients prepared--then assemble the lasagna as you go. Cut the noodles to size--don't worry about exact fit or the leftover bits, as you'll likely find nooks and crannies they'll help to fill.

4. I would strongly recommend you try a more delicate filling in addition to, or in place of, the ragu in the recipe (or maybe use a lighter filling with a bit of tomato paste). A good starting point is the filling used for Ascoli olives (a white veal- and pork-based filling). That with bechamel and cheese produces an excellent lasagna. That's not necessarily a substitute for the ragu/red filing, but can complement it very nicely (if you insist on have a heavy/red component). You can prepare a dish that ranges from layers of white/amber to white/amber/green to white/amber/green/red and everything in between.

Remember, you are creating a lasagna with many layers--not an industrial 3-4-layer dish with heavy noodles. There's plenty of room/layers for a wide variety of flavors, textures and colors--Ascoli/pale, Ragu/tomato/red, spinach/green, cheese-bechamel/amber-white, noodles/amber-white, etc. Each add a flavor, texture, and color--all bound by your hand-cranked and very thin lasagna noodles.

4. In short, IMHO, the presumption that the labor-and time-intensive preparation of spinach noodles (and implied precise preparation) as a prerequisite to success does a disservice to the fundamentals: thinly rolled, many-layered lasagna noodles and the incorporation (if you want) of many different textures and flavors is what makes this special. Start with simple noodles and many layers with various sauces. If you feel so inclined, then--and only then--progress to more complex/spinach/whatever noodles.

Tricia R

My pasta isn't as green as yours!

I made the pasta, bechemel sauce, and bolognese today and plan to assemble and bake it tomorrow. Everything looks great so far, except that my pasta isn't very green. It's a very faint light green....I used fresh spinach and followed the directions carefully. Why is my pasta not very green?

Joe  G
Rouxbe Staff

Don't worry about the color

Could be a couple of factors:

1. Could have cooked the spinach a tiny bit too long. Spinach can loose a bit of it's color, like other green vegetable, if cooked a bit too long, or

2. just used a little less spinach.

Good news is that it won't matter one bit. The flavor will be delicious and once you bake this lasagne, you will note that you lose some of the color anyway.

So congratulations for taking on this time consuming dish. You will love it. Look forward to your report :-)

Joe  G
Rouxbe Staff

Good point Joe K

Joe K makes a few good points above. In particular, you can focus first on a plain noodle if you like but you may have to adjust this recipe slightly. Watch for the key indicators when making the dough to make these adjustments.

This recipe, btw, is in fact from Mario Batali. So while we do tend to focus on the fundamentals here at Rouxbe, there are cases when you may want to go the extra step to re-create a dish and see if the extra effort is worth it.

We loved this dish, but I know I'd love the same dish with plain noodles as well.

Tricia R

The BEST lasagna!

I finished the lasagna tonight and it was amazing.....even if we did eat dinner at 9:30pm. I love how each part of the recipe is great on it's own and could be used for another dish. I love how delicate the pasta is...even if mine wasn't as green as yours. I made some fettucini with some of the spinach pasta and plan to make it later in the week. The bolognese was also fantastic and would be great with spaghetti. I learned a lot from this recipe.

Thanks RouxBe!

Faye G

Making Ahead

Making a head

Great recipe! I wander if the flavor will be compromised if all components of lasagne were made ahead.
01. How to keep freshly made pasta especially for lasagna. Do you boil it and store or do you store and cook later?

02. Would Besciamella sauce loose its velvety texture if prepared and stored in the refrigerator a day in advanced?

03. I guess Ragu would benefit from being cooked a day ahead of assembly time. Right?

Faye G

Follow up on Making Ahead

I have found the answer to my fist question # 1 about preparing pasta dough and freezing it for later use. It is cleary says in video tab # 6 Rolling the pasta dough.

Bill P

Making ahead

While you could make the components ahead, why keep them separate? I often make the lasagna and then throw it in the fridge to keep until I cook it the next day It doesn't lose any quality, IMO. Once cooked, lasagna can also be kept well by freezing, especially with a vacuum sealer. I cut it into single servings and freeze/seal them separately. Reheat in an oven or with slow zapping in the microwave. That's always a welcome meal after a long day at work.

Faye G

Making ahead

Bill, thank you for your detailed explanation. I just wanted to hear the opinion of an experienced cooks. I am always cautious what type of food I am freezing. Although I’ve read it is ok to freeze most of the food I also read that the texture of frozen food is somewhat altered. I need more learning to do.

Bill P

Freezing

Well, I'm sure the perception of quality is in the taste of the beholder, so to speak, so try it and see if it works for you.

K A

New conclutions ....

I made this lasagna many times now ... It is by far the best lasagna ever. I never actually cared much for lasagna before but after this lasagna I changed my idea 180 degree.

The only problem is that it takes a lot of time and work to prepare. Of course you can do some of the components a day ahead but still.

Also it needs some space to drain the boiled pasta which is not very good if you have a small apartment like my self.

I had problems with dry laminated pasta before but after doing hundreds of them now I now what to look for so that's not a problem any more.

I wanted to try not to boil the noodles this time as it didn't seem logical to me in the first place. Some people said it might dry the ragu so I made my ragu a bit wetter this time and my bechamel a bit runnier so that it becomes perfect after baking.

The result was not that great to tell you the truth it was still awesome better than every other lasagna I tried and I can assure you that for someone who didn't try the perfect one this will still be the best for him but for me it just didn't make it . The pasta was a bit gummy and a bit tough also ,and the bechamel seems to disappear as if it was absorbed by the noodles ?

I also made the pasta this time in my stand mixer which was a very good thing by the way .. just followed the manufacturer steps and the noodles came perfect .

I was also able to figure out why we would roll this pasta differently. And the reason was because of the color . The more you fold the greener and more even the color will be. The first dough I rolled I didn't fold it that many times as specified in the recipe. It did give me a nice thin noodle but the color was white with some greed spots.

Bill P

Hi KA

Yeah, I agree that construction does take a bit of space! You might try stacking the cooked noodles straight from the ice bath to your counter. If you layer them with damp (not wet) tea towels in between, they will not stick too badly and will hold until you are ready.

Tenley F

Substitute for veal?

Is there a good substitute for veal in this recipe? If we substitute regular beef, is there a cut that is most similar?

Thanks!

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Substitute for Veal

Regular or lean ground beef can be substituted for the ground veal in this recipe. Cheers!

Liz S

To Boil or not to boil

I served this lasagne ( prepared with parboiling the noodles) to 10 people today for lunch. I also made a smaller one where I added the noodles uncooked. (They had previously been frozen for 2 weeks between sheets of parchment.) Four of my guests had seconds from the uncooked noodles. All agreed that, although still an excellent lasagne, that the first was better. Comments were that the uncooked noodles had a bit of a "gummier" taste. Perhaps it might have made a difference if the second pan's noodles had not been previously frozen but the noodles thawed out beautifully when layered. I was hoping that there would be no discernible difference in not boiling the noodles because ,frankly, that is the most tedious part of the process for me. Since this is a labor intensive recipe anyway, I will continue to boil the noodles first. As another very Italian blog put it - "The noodles are never meant to soak up the sauce" - I have to agree. By the way, I served this knowing that 2 people were confirmed lasagne haters. But they no longer are:) Everyone raved about the taste and the delicacy of the thin layers.

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: To Boil or Not to Boil

Here is another thread and comment straight from an Italian. Tony always pre-cooks the noodles :) Glad you tried it out!

Herminia C

i will never ask my husband to make me lasagne again

until December 26th 2010 i had never made lasagne before, when ever i was in the mood for lasagne i would beg my husband to make it.

on the the date mentioned above i decided to make it my self and ofcourse it needed to be better than my husband's

i had to make some adjustment to to suit what i had available at the time. i used store bought lasagna shells, and used only ground beef, and did not use the bechamel sauce instead i used tomato sauce. i was concerned about the end results but in the end it all worked out for the best.

my kids and my husband rated my lasagne better than his.
it was truly delicious

one day soon i will try the recipe as is and i am sure it will be great.

Zoila B

Turkey?

Can I substitute ground turkey for the protein?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Ground Turkey in Lasagne

If you like you could use ground turkey, Just know that you will not obtain the same results as the lasagne will be a little less moist as ground turkey is usually quite low in fat and therefore moisture. Cheers!

Douglas R

Lasagne Marathon

This recipe sounded real good, so I chose it to practice making a bechamel, for the first time. Wow, what an adventure. This was my second time making pasta, so I was confident, but not experienced. I started a little early at 11:00 am, because I had a few things to do in the afternoon. We had some friends over and - after cooking non-stop for 9 1/2 hours - we sat down to eat at 8:30! Those things I needed to get done never happened, but thank god I started early. I ran into my first difficulty when I started cutting the pasta and I was supposed to "cover the sheets with damp cloth". Well, I had over seventy 5 X 5 sheets! That is a lot of cloths, not to mention space to lay them out. I decided to take an idea from the freezing method and layer them 6 at a time with parchment instead. It worked. The top layer dried out too much, but the rest were fine. Ran into the same problem again after boiling. I ended up using bath towels and covered my dining room table and every available inch of counter space. Lots of running back and forth from the ice bath. My other difficulty came when I made the bechamel. I had my heat set at 3 but the bechamel turned light golden brown - peanut colored - almost immediately, certainly not 6 - 7 minutes. Luckily I heated the milk first, so I turned the heat down even more and started adding the warm milk. It seemed to turn out OK, tasted good, but as I said it was my first bechamel, so I am not sure. In the end my starving guests raved about how good the lasagne was. I thought so too, but for me - to be honest - I was so damned tired I was mostly relieved.

Glenn M

Dry/Fresh Pasta Version

Definately planning to make this recipe but unfortunately we just sold our pasta roller machine and as we are moving overseas shortly. I did not want to buy another one unitil we have moved.

So my questions are:

1 Is there a preference towards fresh or dry pasta?
2 Should dry pasta be boiled before use? The packets we have do not say anything about this but my wife has always placed the lasagne sheets dry in the past and I reckon they always end up being a bit chewy - but very delicious :).
3 When we eventually buy a new pasta roller would the Rouxbe staff be able to reccomend a good brand and whether manual or electric is prefered.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Dry or Fresh Pasta Version

In this recipe fresh pasta is better as it is thinner and more delicate. As for whether or not to boil the dried noodles, I would say yes do boil them. You may also want to read the comment above regarding "to boil or not to boil".

And as for a pasta machine. Here is another thread that asks and answers this same question. Cheers!

Beth  W

probably worst question of all time

I don't have a pasta maker and live in a rural area and don't have access to an Italian shop. I wanted to attempt this recipe. Here goes the terrible question. Can I use a few sheets of phyllo dough to get the thin noodles. I know, Middle Eastern not Italian and Italian's are probably ready to beat me.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Can You Use Phyllo Instead of Pasta Noodles?

Just know that anyone is free to try anything they like in the kitchen. Would I use phyllo instead of thin layers of pasta noodles for this lasagne, probably not. And if for some reason I did, I would certainly not call it lasagne. Just know that if you do make this dish with phyllo you will end up with very different results. Which by the way, might still be very good but the dish with be totally different. Hope this helps. Cheers!

Marlena L

Help, no Pancetta

I cannot find Pancetta around here (went to regular grocery and a special meat store). What should I use instead?

Thanks!

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Pancetta Substitute

Here is a great reference site for food substitutions that is useful to bookmark. Cheers!

Marlena L

Done!

Thanks for the website. My lasagne is finished and waiting the final 10 minutes! It smells good! It took 9 hours just like someone above stated! (By the way, found Pancetta at a grocery in the town my husband works in)

Yolanda T

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

So, we are having friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I would love to put this lasagna together on Friday and just refrigerate it until it's time to pop it in the oven. I've already made my pasta; the squares are in the freezer waiting to be boiled. What is the consensus regarding overnighting the whole thing in the fridge, completely put together but not yet baked? I've never held onto besciamella and I'm concerned about its "shelf life."

Yolanda T

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

Ooops. I misnamed my question/comment. I should not have titled it with "Freeze." I'm not asking about freezing the lasagne, only keeping it in the fridge overnight. Thanks.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE Refrigerating Overnight

Definitely, you can assemble the dish the night before and bake it the next day. It'll be fine overnight in the refrigerator. Cheers!

Maria K

Besciamella

Could I double the bechamel for this dish?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Doubling Bechamel?

When it comes to making bechamel, you are free to make as much as you like (see the lesson on How to Make Bechamel for more information). If however, you are asking if you could add double the amount of bechamel that you are adding to the recipe, we do not recommend that as it would likely make the lasagna too wet and hard to slice etc. Cheers!

Gail S

My times!

Well, I was forewarned with the above comments about 9 hour prep times and needing lots of surfaces and towels!

So far it took 5 hours to assemble and luckily my mother and her giant kitchen (relative to my NYC apartment!) with many surfaces and clean tea towels were available to help.

My only concerns so far are that I assembled it in a 9 x 13 inch pan, using all the cheese, ragu and bechamel, but leaving SO MUCH pasta!! I think maybe I made the meat layers too thick...confession- I only watched the dough parts of the video and then got too immersed in the process!

Will report back to describe results. And I might be asking Santa for a motorized pasta roller attachment- I have a very tired arm!:)

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: My Times!

Good luck Gail. Sounds like you at least had fun doing it. If my memory is correct, I also seem to recall having leftover pasta dough, so don't worry too much. I still remember how I felt and how good this pasta tasted the first time I made it. Enjoy! Or should I say, Buon Appetito!!

By the way, I have the motorized pasta roller and it is a dream for things like this.

Gail S

Thanks!

It was extremely good. Extremely.

Bill P

Extra pasta

I usually have some leftover as well. Just cut it up into tagliatelle or similar. Pasta is a terrible thing to waste!

Plamena A

Something was missing...

This is not my lasagna recipe. Something was definitely missing. I made this and veggie lasagna for a dinner party and everyone preferred the veggie lasagna. It's very discouraging seeing all the positive reviews.

Cristina A

Dinner Menu Suggestions

I made the lasagna about 5 times now, it gets easyer and faster all the time, especially that i have learned some shortcuts (like cooking the ragu and pasta sheets the day before). I always serve it when i have guests and they all agree - best lasagna ever.
Key ingredients are indeed the thin and many layers, the ragu boild in milk and the nutty besciamella - of which I make more, and save 2 cups for the covering. Also, I only use veal but I put some more pancetta.
The trouble is that I wish to serve it for a fancy dinner and I can not seem to pair it with anything WORTHY of it. Can you suggest something for an appetiser, soup and a side salad (a dessert if I am not asking too much), something that would be as festive and delicate as this? For example, I would serve a carpaccio but i don't want to repeat the beef. I would serve a consomme with a raviollo but that is again too much pasta for one night.... and so on.
Thanks!

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: What to Serve with Lasagna

Your opinions are quite limitless really. I would stick with an appetizer that is lighter, like salad or a nice soup. Besides, you don't want people to fill up before the delicious lasagna shows up :-) For recipe ideas, either click on the different categories on the recipe page or search the site (top right of each page) for either "salad" or "soup". For a salad you could keep it simple with some nice farmers market lettuce or you could make something like the Belgian Endive Salad. And for soups, any number of them you could make. Try one of the fancier pureed soups perhaps (the asparagus soup might be nice).

For dessert, again, keep it simple. You could go Italian and make tiramisu if you like or you could just do some nice fruit, such as melon. Hope that helps. Cheers!

Christian J

Some thoughts

Made this for the first time this weekend. It took about 5 hours from start to eat, a lot of the time went into making the pasta. It was great fun and turned out delicious.

I made it with pretty thin layers, but still had way too much pasta - only used about half of it. Are you really supposed to use all the pasta in this lasagna?

My Besciamella cooled down quite a bit while waiting for the pasta, and was pretty thick by the time I combined everything. Should it be pretty thick?

Yolanda T

Leftover Pasta

I always have pasta sheets leftover when I make this recipe. I usually cut them in the appropriate size squares for a future lasagna, lay them in a storage container in single layers separated by parchment paper and store them in the freezer. They will keep for quite some time, and turn out perfectly next time. Note: When ready to use, do not thaw; drop them one by one, still frozen, into the boiling water.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Thoughts on Extra Pasta Dough and Besciamella

Any leftover pasta, which is usually always the case, can be rolled and frozen as Yolanda suggested or it can be rolled and cut into any other shape and eaten as a simple but tasty fresh pasta.

As for the besciamella, it is hard for me to say what was too thick. I know that each time I have made this I did follow the recipe and it seemed to work out for me. The question is, did it seem to thick to you once the lasagane was baked?

Glad you enjoyed the dish. I can still remember the first time I made it and just how impressed I was with the flavors and delicate texture....mmmm!!

Christian J

Re: Pasta and Besciamella

Thanks. Left-over pasta dough isn't a problem, I eat fresh pasta at least once a week anyway :) My problem was that I got so sucked up in the mechanics of the process that I cooked it all. Only when I'd assembled two lasagnas did I realize that I had a huge pile of cooked pasta sheets. Next time I'll be smarter about that.

The Besciamella was delicious on the lasagna, so no actual problem. Is it wrong of me to want slightly more of it on there? :)

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: The Delicious Besciamella

I too really loved the flavor of the besciamella. It's the blond roux and the generous amount of nutmeg that really make the big difference. I imagine it might make a delicious mac n' cheese as well - maybe with a drop or two of truffle oil. Yum!

Christian J

More thoughts

Made this again today. Got a new pan since the last time, one that's both bigger and deeper, so I got to do many more layers. More layers = more tasty!

I screwed up my first batch of besciamella today by adding too much salt... Rookie mistake. I'd prepared 1.5 tsp og salt in a small bowl with the half teaspoon of nutmeg and added it all at once. So I've definitely learned to add salt slowly and taste frequently. Made a new batch with no salt and salted it with roughly half the first batch :)

I'm curious: Dawn and the other pros in here - how quickly can you roll out, dry and cut the pasta? Once I got into the rhythm, it took me roughly 8 minutes to do one 1/8 of the dough (roll and fold, roll all the way to the thinnest setting, set to dry, cut the previous batch, transfer to parchment paper and cover). That means more than an hour preparing the dry pasta sheets. This is with a hand crank pasta machine. Enjoyable work, but still quite time consuming.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Time to Roll Out Pasta

The time it will take to roll out and cut the "fresh laminated pasta" will really just depend on the individual. The more regularly you do it, the faster you will become. I happen to have a motor for my pasta machine, so it is a bit quicker, but really this pasta is a labor of love and there is not much that is quick about it :-)

Christian J

Time

I'm not trying to turn this into a time contest, I was just curious how long it took someone who has lots of experience. The motor would probably resolve issues like wishing I'd have another arm :)

Douglas R

Hand Crank vs Motor

Hi Christian, I made this pasta with a hand crank machine twice and with a KA attachment a third time. I was amazed at how much faster and easier it was with the motor. For me it cut my time in half and you can handle the sheets with both hands. So much easier.

Merna B

I had a lot of fun making this

I've made homemade pasta many years ago but I don't remember it coming out as well as this did, thanks to your excellent instructions at using a pasta machine. I bought a good Italian machine on Kijiji that was only used once for $20. This gives me budget room to get the motor so I can make pasta more often.

Friday morning I got my new (10-weeks old) grand daughter up and we made pasta, well she watched! I had to get the spinach in the pasta before spouse-man got up as he hates it. The smell of the ragout woke everyone up and we had a great time laughing and being silly. A wonderful holiday experience which is what cooking is all about isn't it?

Regarding the time requirements, we all have things we are great at and some things not so much. I love to bake, pan frying was a real challenge. I'm not bothered about the time to roll pasta, I'd just do double batches and freeze half on a quiet weekend when I'm not rushed, it's recreation for me.

There are a couple of things I'd do differently next time. I felt the dish was under seasoned, so I'll look at whether I used enough salt cooking the pasta or if I should have seasoned the ragu more. I dislike nutmeg in savoury dishes but I suspect that I didn't add enough. I'm going to try with more the next time to see if it works better. I'm not sure I actually made a blond roux, I may not have cooked it long enough.

All that aside thanks so much for helping me improve and for the wonderful memories which are the essence of all Mediterranean foods.

M

Kris T

With goat products and red wine! it was fantastic!!

Hi Joe & Dawn,

As every time that I cook any of your recipes my family is impressed with the results coming from me, an inexpert chef !! :)

Today I decided to cook my first lasagna and it was phenomenal!!! I had to change a couple of ingredients because I had different meats available at home and because I'm sensitive to gluten in Canada and cow products, but the result was fantastic.

I used:
- Goat milk, goat butter, (instead of cow) gluten free all purpose flower, lamb instead of pork and red wine instead of white.

As I mentioned before, I didn't have pork meat at home and that's why I decided to use beef with lamb and panzeta. And Because I didn't have white wine I used red.

The results were great, even you can taste the strong flavor of the lamb, red wine & goat in it, but I love strong flavors, so my family and I LOVED IT!! :)

I forgot to mention and I didn't do the pasta. I bought "Delverde" lasagna brand made in Italy. It comes with around 20 lays of pasta and 2 trays for the oven ( I paid around $5 for it) and with 1 tray you made 4 big portions and I put the other tray in the freezer for the future . I can't wait to eat it again.

Thank you for making cooking that easy! :)
Diana & Kris

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Goat Products & Red Wine...

Diana and Kris, we are so glad to hear that you liked the lasagne. And also thank you for sharing your substitution ideas, they sound delicious. Keep up the great work. Cheers!

Swati B

Vegetarian variation?

As painful as it is, I must make a vegetarian lasagna. I was thinking about a roasted summer vegetable lasagna with zucchini, eggplant, summer squash.

What changes do I need to make to the recipe to make it work other than roasting the vegetables? Would I need to change the amount of bechamel? My suspicion is that roasted vegetables will not absorb as much bechamel as the meat ragu does, so I must change it somewhat, but I'd rather get Rouxbe's advice.

Thank you.

Ken R
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Vegetarian variation?

That sounds delicious... I think the roasted vegetables will make the dish a bit on the moist side unless you thicken up the béchamel just a bit. You might also try to dust the roasted vegetables with grated Parmesan cheese during the laying, as this will help absorb moisture and add a certain depth of flavor an richness to the dish. let us know how it turns out - but I think the vegetables sound delightful. Cheers!

Leigh S

My Lasagne Report

Woke up this morning at 3:30am and decided to start cooking! What else is a guy to do when he can't sleep? I figured with a 4-hour estimated preparation time I could conceivably have this ready for breakfast. :0) However, instead, I decided to prepare each piece independently and spread my work into little bits throughout the day. It was a great way to spend a day!

This is my very long-winded, but hopefully interesting, report:

I followed the sequence in the recipe pretty closely.

I made the ragu first, so my wife woke up to this delicious smelling ragu simmering on the stove. I really enjoyed watching this dish progress, and learned a great deal from each step. Dicing the onions, carrots, and celery was great practice of my knife skills as there is a LOT! Each step ... sweating, sauteing, browning, and deglazing filled the house with an amazing aroma. Adding essentially a full can of tomato paste was exciting. I have never used so much tomato paste in a single dish before. (At least it eliminated the need to figure out what to do with the rest of the can!)

At first it seemed weird to be adding milk to the mix, but the resulting sauce was delicious and creamy. I also couldn't believe that I would be able to simmer it for 90 minutes with only two cups of liquid in the mix. However, the sauce came together at the 90 minute mark just as it was supposed to.

Secondly, I made the besciamella exactly as described in the lesson. The resulting sauce coated the back of a spoon beautifully, but by the time the sauce had been refrigerated for a few hours, it was way too thick to spread easily. Next time, I will either make the sauce just before using it and spread it while it is warm, or make it much thinner. Covering the sauce with plastic wrap while still warm to prevent a skin from forming on the surface worked like a charm.

Next, I prepared the spinach. A quick blanching and then a dip in an ice bath resulted in a perfect bright green batch of spinach to use. 3 1/2 oz of spinach is a substantial amount of spinach. (two good sized handfuls). Again, I did exactly as described in the lesson and even went to extremes to squeeze out all the moisture. I am not convinced it was necessary to get the spinach so dry. My resulting spinach 'cigar' was pretty much a solid mass. Since it all gets mixed in with the eggs anyway, I doubt that a little extra moisture would even have been noticeable. Next time, I wouldn't be as anal about getting the spinach dry before slicing it. I thought maybe it was to make it easier to chiffonade, but didn't really find that to be the case. I can't see it being a concern for the texture of the pasta, as the consistency is determined by the amount of flour and kneading. A little extra flour would make up for a little extra moisture if necessary. Can I ask, why the emphasis and getting the spinach dry?

I then made my pasta dough using all-purpose flour. I thought that the all-purpose flour might be important to get the colour and texture right because of the addition of spinach to the mix. In retrospect, I think it would have been just as good with semolina.

Dividing the dough (640g) into 8 pieces (80g each) slowed the rolling process immensely as I had to go through the rolling/folding procedure so many times. I only used 7 of the 8 pieces because it was simply taking too long. Combining one and a half pieces together (120g) worked much better. So dividing the original doughball into 5x128g or possibly 6x108g pieces would work nicely.

Assembling the lasagne was fun, except for the thick sauce as noted earlier. Lasagne is not my favourite dish, but the finished product was stunning and held together beautifully. (No runny meat sauce!)

This is certainly the best tasting lasagne that I have ever had, but it was also the most expensive I have ever made: (approx $32 for 12 servings):

Veal $8
Pork $5
Pancetta $2
Eggs $2
Spinach $2
Parmigiano Reggiano $6
Mirepoix $3
Butter/milk/wine $3
oil/flour/seasonings/other $1

It is also high in calories. We calculated 500+ calories per serving (1/12th)

Mark F

Lasagna pan

Mario must have his lasagna pans made custom by little italian elves because I've been unable to find the 10x20 pan referenced in the recipe. I've made this 3 times and it gets better (and quicker) every time!

Thanks for putting it out there!

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Lasagne Pan

I love the "little Italian elves" reference Mark — I am sure he certainly could if he wanted to right! Thankfully the exact size of the pan is not so much of an issue when it comes to making lasagne. Glad you like the recipe. Cheers, Dawn

Juan R

LASSAGNA

how much flour is needed for your recipie

Leigh S

Lasagne Recipe

Juan.... that all depends upon which part of the recipe you are talking about. The Besciamella? The pasta? It is all listed in the left-hand column of the text recipe:
http://news.rouxbe.com/recipes/1146-mario-batalis-lasagne-alla-bolognese-al-forno/text

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