Here’s a rather interesting one for small gatherings or get-togethers. Easy to prepare yet very impressive.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk at room temperature
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups tomato (marinara) sauce
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Lb. ground chuck beef
½ Lb. ground pork
1 tsp. red pepper – crushed
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
2 cloves fresh garlic – crushed
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
8 cherry tomatoes - halved
6 oz. black olives – halved
8 oz. porcini mushrooms (or baby portabellas) - halved
1 Lb. lasagna past - cooked
2 10 oz. packages frozen whole spinach, thawed and dried
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Feta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
6 – 8 baguettes – cut in half lengthwise
1 bunch fresh dill
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a 2-quart pot, melt 5 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat being careful not to burn it. When butter has completely melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Continue to simmer and whisk over medium heat until the sauce is thick, smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg and tomato sauce. Stir until well combined and check for seasoning. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
Mix the mozzarella and feta cheeses and set aside.
In a sauté pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil. When almost smoking, add the ground beef and ground pork seasoned with the red pepper, basil, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper. Brown meat, breaking any large lumps, until it is no longer pink and remove from heat. Drain any excess fat and set aside to cool.
In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly mix the ricotta, olives and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and Set aside.
Into the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, spread 1/3 of the béchamel sauce.
On a clean work surface or cutting board, lay out one of the lasagna sheets flat. Coat with a thin layer of the ricotta mixture followed by a layer of spinach leaf. On this you add a thin layer of marinara sauce followed by a layer of meat and finally a layer of the cheeses.
Carefully roll into a package similar to a jelly roll and place in the pan on the béchamel. Repeat this process until all ingredients are used or the pan is full.
Add the tomatoes, olives and mushrooms to the pan. Drizzle béchamel and marinara over the top of all and cover with the remainder of the cheese.
Place lasagna dish on top of a large baking sheet, cover and put on the middle rack of the oven and bake until top is bubbling or about 30 minutes.
While the lasagna is cooking, cut the baguettes in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the bread leaving the crust and about ½ inch of bread. Save removed bread for other uses. Cut the roasted garlic in half and rub the insides of the brad boats liberally. Brush the insides of the bread with olive oil and set on a baking sheet.
Transfer each roll to individual bread “boats”, sprinkle with the Parmigiano and return to oven to brown cheese and heat the bread; about 15 minutes.
Serve with the vegetables from the pan and garnish with dill sprig
© D R DeMilo 2010 all rights reserved