Posted on 27 March 2009.
I like a good challenge and whenever I see those lovely food blogs with results from the Daring Bakers Challenge, I’m in awe and envy. When I finally got around to joining the group, I froze when I saw my first challenge for March 2009: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi Al Forno). I was expecting to make dessert or bake cakes — something for my insatiable sweet tooth…something easier. But no, it turns out my “initiation” into the Daring Bakers would be a very laborious one. I was as scared as I was decades ago when the swimming instructor asked us to jump into the pool at the 6″ feet mark on our first class. Are you serious? What did I get myself into?!
THIS, dear readers:
YUMMMMMMM. As with life’s big challenges, this challenge has great rewards. This lasagna melts in your mouth. There’s homemade lasagne, and then there’s memorable homemade gourmet lasagne. I could not believe how delicious it was! I can still remember the taste of the ragu, the nice tenderness of homemade pasta, the rich bechamel sauce.
This lasagne marks a few firsts for me:
1) Very first lasagne. You read that right: I’ve never made lasagne in my entire life. It just looked like it was too much work. Yeah, look what I ended up doing! Haha.
2) Bechamel sauce.
3) Handmade pasta and without the aid of a machine, too. Oh, dear, this is a biggie. The whole thing was a workout.
4) Ragu sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than two hours to make a pasta sauce. No sir.
Would I make it again? YES! But not without a pasta machine. ;-) The challenge did not require us to buy one, but god, I wish I had. Oh well, that’s done. I can now say that the very first lasagne I made entailed a back-breaking 2-hour manual pasta rolling ordeal. No wonder I put it off for more than a week! I had to muster enough courage and strength to get the ball rolling. Literally. This started out as a dough ball that you flatten with your rolling pin if you do it by hand. It has a gorgeous green color because of the spinach. I used frozen chopped spinach and this is an egg pasta.
I dried it as cut sheets for 24 hours before cooking. I dared not to take photos of the transformation of our dining room into a pasta drying area with the sheets hanging on freshly cleaned table cloth-covered chairs.
It’s more delicate than store-bought pasta, understandably. I had some tears here and there. It looked very pretty as I assembled the dish. This is how one layer looks like, beginning with the spinach lasagna sheet overlapping each other:
Rich and creamy bechamel sauce:
The MMMMM-inducing ragu sauce:
More bechamel on top of the ragu sauce.
Topped with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese:
And this is the topmost layer of my lasagne, with a generous amount of bechamel and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese:
Our kitchen smelled amazing while it was cooking:
Here, the fruit of my labor:
I started making this 4pm (for the pasta sheets) and we ate this at 11pm the next day. It’s no walk in the park, but I’m glad I did it! WHEW!!!!!!
I will post a PDF recipe tonight. :)
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.