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Lasagne Verdi al Forno – Green Lasagna

I made this. It was a pain in the neck, but I made it, and it is beautiful. lasagnaThe 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.

I love lasagna, Dear Reader. I love to eat it, but I had never successfully assembled or cooked it until today.

Note that I did not say that I've never tried, but that I said I have never been successful.

The March challenge of the Daring Bakers is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They chose the recipe Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno) from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper for our challenge. They required us to use a bechemel sauce and the handmade spinach pasta, but gave us latitude to chose any red sauce of our liking.

When I saw this challenge, my heart dropped. Not only did I have to make hand rolled spinach pasta, but once I finished the pasta, I had to make it into a fancy green lasagna? This was not going to go well.

I thought about dropping out of the Daring Bakers. I was afraid. Joe talked me out of quitting before my second challenge. We'd tackle this challenge together! So the whole month went by, and we both successfully avoided any mention of the challenge.

And then it was too late to avoid it any more (meaning that this post had to be done by today) and we set to work. Joe purchased the necessary ingredients on his way home from work on Thursday, thinking that we'd make the pasta on Thursday night, after putting Grace to bed.

Joe was wrong. There is nothing quick about this pasta. If you want to see the actual recipe, you can check out one of the hosts' blogs that I linked above.

Step One: Pasta Verde

I think it took us seven hours just to make the pasta. No, I'm not kidding, and yes, we have a KitchenAid mixer with a pasta extruder attachment. The recipe claims to take 45 minutes, but I'm not sure in whose world.

Ingredients:

  • 2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more each)
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Instructions:p3290274

  1. Per the recipe: Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well's sides may collapse.
  2. And then I: Put the remaining dough into the KitchenAid and let the mixer mix it. I got panicky and added too many eggs, which led to an overly wet and sticky dough that enveloped my hands as if I was about to become swamp thing. Even Grace said, “green hands, Momma!
  3. I was supposed to knead the dough for 13 minutes, or until it is silky and not sticky. Unfortunately, it never stopped being sticky, so we let it rest for 30 minutes as the recipe suggested.
  4. I came back to the dough after the resting period, and the dough was wetter and stickier than ever, but I attempted to run it through my pasta maker anyway. It came out of the pasta maker looking more like a glistening green body fluid than a sheet of pasta. Fail.
  5. I crumpled that bit o' pasta back up, cleaned out the pasta maker, and put the dough back into the mixing bowl. I dumped a bunch more flour on top of it, attached the dough hook, and turned the mixer on low for two minutes. The dough ball looked a little better. I dumped another cup and a half of flour in and let it continue to knead with the dough hook. Then Joe kneaded the dough ball for another ten minutes.Green Dough
  6. In the meantime, Grace mixed up some pasta dough of her own (namely flour, water, and a pinch of chopped spinach) and worked on kneading it. Like me, she tired of kneading quickly.
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  7. Finally, we were ready to put our green dough through the KitchenAid extruder. It would have worked nicely, except that the noodles were suddenly so thin that they fell apart. This wouldn't do. After standing around looking at each other for far too long, Joe and I came up with a plan.
  8. We don't have a rolling pin, and this was our major problem in rolling the noodles by hand. Instead, we used the extruder to make four noodles at a time and, instead of separating them, used our mini rolling pin to make them into one non-holey noodle. It worked out okay except that the noodles got stuck to the tablecloth. (We saw that coming and had a plan. I used a very thin metal spreader to carefully scrape them off.)
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  9. Finally, the noodles were done. Some other Daring Bakers had commented in the secret Daring Bakers forum that they had done the lasagna without cooking their noodles, and the finished product was good, so we went that route, too. That turned out to be a mistake, but it saved some time and aggrevation.

Step Two: Bechamel

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This part we did exactly as the original recipe dictated.The next time we attempt this recipe, I will double the bechamel.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 2/3 cups milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Ground nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

Step Three: Country Style Ragu

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The Daring Bakers suggested a certain ragu, but Joe suggested we use our own. After all, we (quite successfully) made our own spaghetti sauce in the summer last year, and ragu is, more or less, a thickened meat and tomato sauce with vegetables added in.

Joe browned one pound of ground beef and 3 ounces of diced ham that was leftover from dinner a few nights ago. When the meat was cooked, he poured in one quart jar of our homemade spaghetti sauce. You can find the recipe for our homemade spaghetti sauce here. He continued to simmer the sauce and the meat until we were ready to prepare the lasagna, and the meat soaked up most of the liquid from the sauce. Next time, I think a second quart jar of sauce would be good.

Step Four: Lasagna Assembly

This is the recipe that never ends. By this point, we had been working on this meal for almost nine hours.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a bit of nonstick cooking spray into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. The recipe says you should cook the pasta for 2 to 4 minutes at this point, then immerse it into cold water and allow it to dry before assembling the lasagna. We had reached our hassle quotient for the day, and we skipped this step, but the final lasagna suffered for it.
  3. Spread a thin layer of bechamel over the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. From the recipe: Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of Paremsan cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese. {I ran out of bechamel sauce, so I only put it on top of the noodles. I didn't have enough to put it on top of the noodles and on top of the ragu.}
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  5. Cover the lasagna tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook an additional 10 minutes. Leave oven door ajar, and allow lasagna to rest at least 10 more minutes (we left ours about 20 minutes). This final resting time is necessary so that the lasagna can set up properly.
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The Results

The lasagna tasted fine. It would have tasted better if I hadn't convinced Joe to not cook the noodles. They tasted like raw noodles and were a little dry and crunchy. We're going to invest in a different kind of pasta machine – a pasta roller – and use what we learned this time to make this lasagna again. It will go much more smoothly next time.

I ate my lasagna with extra sauce on top. The original recipe says to use very thin layers of bechamel and ragu, but I prefer more substance in my lasagna. I like things gooey.

More pictures to come! I am having trouble uploading them, and it's late, so I'm giving up. I'll try again tomorrow.

Don't forget to stop back on Thursday for Grace's Kitchen!

© 2009 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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29 thoughts on “Lasagne Verdi al Forno – Green Lasagna”

  1. Wow – when you commit to something you really commit! 9 hours? You have more staying power than I would have. Sounds like you all had a nice family day together in the kitchen tho and a nice finish with the lasagna!

    Robyns Online World’s last blog post..Bold Nuts!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It sounds so yummy. And what precious photos you’ve included. I love the last one of Grace! ~Arleen

    Arleen @ Seasons for All’s last blog post..Sunday’s Silence ~ Spring Has Returned

  3. Wow – when you commit to something you really commit! 9 hours? You have more staying power than I would have. Sounds like you all had a nice family day together in the kitchen tho and a nice finish with the lasagna!

    Robyns Online World’s last blog post..Bold Nuts!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It sounds so yummy. And what precious photos you’ve included. I love the last one of Grace! ~Arleen

    Arleen @ Seasons for All’s last blog post..Sunday’s Silence ~ Spring Has Returned

  5. This sounds absolutely delish! I love spinach lasagna, but I haven’t ever had spinach noodles. I have a KA and would love to have the attachment. 😀

    Sherry’s last blog post..Apple and Cinnamon Swirl Bread

  6. That sounds great! I think my next purchase will be a pasta attachment too!

    Christy’s last blog post..Tackle It Tuesday – March 31, 2009

  7. This sounds absolutely delish! I love spinach lasagna, but I haven’t ever had spinach noodles. I have a KA and would love to have the attachment. 😀

    Sherry’s last blog post..Apple and Cinnamon Swirl Bread

  8. That sounds great! I think my next purchase will be a pasta attachment too!

    Christy’s last blog post..Tackle It Tuesday – March 31, 2009

  9. Amazing. While I luv to cook, I don’t have that kind of free time anymore. I did take a gourmet cooking class at adult ed at night once with my sister-in-law & we made many great meals there, but all in 2-1/2 hours, including dining!

    Visiting from Tuesday Toot! Please join me!

    Cindi @ Mama Mentor’s last blog post..New Type-A Mom Editor – 50 Something Moms: Tuesday Toot

  10. Amazing. While I luv to cook, I don’t have that kind of free time anymore. I did take a gourmet cooking class at adult ed at night once with my sister-in-law & we made many great meals there, but all in 2-1/2 hours, including dining!

    Visiting from Tuesday Toot! Please join me!

    Cindi @ Mama Mentor’s last blog post..New Type-A Mom Editor – 50 Something Moms: Tuesday Toot

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