Lasagne della Vigilia
Serves 8
Preparation: Difficult

We often eat this lasagne on Christmas Eve, traditionally a meatless night.

Make the pasta.
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
If using a food processor:
  1. Process all ingredients until blended in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.
  2. Empty onto a marble or wooden surface, knead with the heel of the hand for a minute, cover with an inverted bowl, and let stand for 30 minutes.
If preparing by hand:
  1. Mound the flour on a marble surface or pastry board.
  2. Make a well in the center and put in the eggs and olive oil.
  3. Mix by rubbing the ingredients together as though washing your hands.
  4. Mix just until the oil is well blended and the pastry is the consistency of coarse meal.
  5. Gather the pastry together, kneading once or twice and let stand for 30 minutes.
For the bechamel:
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 T Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Blend the milk, flour, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the mixture to the melted butter and cook, stirring constantly, until it reaches a boil.
  4. Boil gently for 5 minutes, stirring all the while, then remove from the heat and add the Parmesan, stirring to blend.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the bechamel to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside while you make the green ricotta sauce.
For the green ricotta sauce:
  • 10 oz (285 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz (115 g) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, tightly packed, stems removed, washed and well dried
  • coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
  1. Pass the ricotta through a food mill and mix with the cream, milk, and Parmesan.
  2. Chop the parsley in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or by hand.
  3. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
  5. Refrigerate until needed.
Final prep:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F (180 deg. C).
  2. Divide the lasagne dough into 4 parts. Run each part through the largest opening of a pasta machine, folding the dough in thirds and running through 10 times, each time folding it in thirds. If necessary, sprinkle occasionally with flour.
  3. Move the wheel to the next notch, and run the dough through once. Move to each successive notch, running the pasta through only once at each notch until and including the last one. Place the pasta on floured tea towels and process the remaining pasta.
  4. Let dry for 5 or 10 minutes, then cut each pasta piece in half vertically and then horizontally.
  5. Bring 4 quarts (3 3/4 L) and 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt to a boil in a large pasta pot and add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Place a pan of cold water beside the pot of boiling water and a clean tea towel on a flat surface. One at a time, drop the pasta strips into the boiling water for a few seconds, or until they rise to the surface. Lift out with the slotted spoon and drop into the pan of cold water. Remove with the slotted spoon and place on the tea towel. Repeat until all the lasagne are cooked.
  7. Butter a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 X 2 1/2-inch (39 X 26 1/2 x 6 1/2-cm) ovenproof serving dish and line the bottom with 3 long overlapping lasagne. They should extend beyond the ends of the dish (they will be folded over the top).
  8. Cover with half the ricotta mixture.
  9. Cover with a layer of lasagne.
  10. Cover with half the bechamel sprinkled with 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan.
  11. Repeat with a layer of lasagne, a layer of ricotta, another layer of lasagne, and the remaining béchamel.
  12. Fold over the lasagne used to line the dish, adding more lasagne if necessary to complete the layer.
  13. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons Parmesan and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
  14. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  15. This dish may be prepared in advance, refrigerated, and baked later

Italian Cooking in the Grand Tradition
Jo Bettoja and Anna Maria Cornetto
The Dial Press




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