The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
so this was going to be a real challenge for me-you don’t tell a pastry chef that she will be making pasta with bechamel and ragout and expect her to consider it baking. that is cooking, no matter what happens to it in the oven! in the professional world, this is the kitchens job, not the pastry departments responsibility, therefore, it is not baking. but i really like lasagne, especially spinach lasagne. and then there is that pasta machine lurking in the storage area of the basement…what about those mushrooms growing in the closet?
my husband and i both like to cook with spinach and we always have a bag of it in the freezer. i thawed some and proceeded with the recipe. the dough seemed a bit like cement after kneading it so i made it a second time.
after allowing both balls of dough to relax for about 4 hours, i pulled out the old atlas pasta machine, hooked it up to the counter and began to roll out the sheets. this was so easy to work with. the first batch actually worked out better than the second. both were a little dry and required water but i will attribute that to egg size. since all i had were large eggs, i used water to make up the extra moisture.
currently, we have a small zoo living with us-3 cats and a dog, so i opted to lay out the sheets on parchment and keep them in the fridge until i could cook them rather than hanging them to dry. the next day, i made the bechamel but opted not to make the ragout. instead, i sauteed off additional spinach with onions and garlic and also sauteed off some sliced mushrooms. to assemble the lasagne, i followed the directions except for cooking a couple sheets of pasta at a time and then assembled the lasagne by alternating a layer of bechamel with a layer of spinach, mushrooms and a pizza cheese blend.
my husband is an amatuer mycologist-he’s into mushrooms. recently, he gave a lecture at a lawn and garden show and this box of dirt was part of his display. it is a ready to grow kit that if handled correctly, it will produce portobellos and white buttons. you can see some of them in the box.
since the kit has only just begun to produce fruit-mushrooms are actually the fruit of the mycelium which grows under ground and when the conditions are right, they produce fruiting bodies or what we call mushrooms, i had to buy some to make the lasagne.
the finished product, it was very green and similar to a white pizza in flavor. we enjoyed it but if i ever do it again, i will most likely add a little tomato, perhaps some diced tomatoes to the spinach layer to balance out the flavor-it needed something to cut the richness, a little acid to brighten it.