Lasagna al Pesto

lasagnalapesto

Nothing lost in tranlsation here.

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  • 16 oz. good quality lasanga noodles
  • 14 oz Pesto
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 6 oz freshly grated parmesan
  • 6 oz shredded mozzarella
  • Whole nutmeg for grating
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

A friend of mine was recently in Italy and brought back a pasta cookbook for me. In Italian. A group of us threw her a birthday dinner a few weeks ago, and when we asked her if she had any food preferences, she said she hadn’t had good Italian food since she was in Florence. I, conveniently enough, remembered the book (and am secretly convinced this was the original purpose of the gift). I understood most of the recipe thanks to UT undergrad days, but had to Google the conversion from metric to the Queen’s English. This was the result. Makes 9-12 side-dish servings.

The How-To

Preheat oven to 375*, and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook pasta just short of package directions, and lay on parchment or wax paper, being careful not to overlap strips.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat, whisk in flour, stir continuously and simmer for 2 minutes to cook the “flour-y” taste out. Do not let the mixture brown. Bring milk to a simmer on stove or in microwave, and whisk into the flour-butter mixture until there are zero lumps. Grate in a good bit of nutmeg (20 grates on a plane grater or about 1/5 of nutmeg), and add a few pinches of salt. Continue to whisk until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Congratulations, you’ve just made a beschamel (your basic white sauce). Allow to cool to room temperature before stirring in pesto.

In a baking dish (9 X 11 should work) spread a thin layer of your beschamel al pesto on the bottom, and begin layering the dish with lasagna, beschamel al pesto, and grated cheeses until you’ve used up your ingredients. Your last layer should be beschamel al pesto, topped with grated cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Variations on a Theme

If you hadn’t already noticed, this is a rather rich little pasta dish in the Italian tradition of being a small starter course to a meal and not the main course, meat and tomato-filled affair to which most of us are accustomed. If you want to make it an entree, you can certainly add in a layer of shredded or sliced chicken breast, sauted fresh (or thawed-and-drained frozen) spinach, shredded carrots, and/or thinly sliced summer squash or zucchini. I use the whole wheat/high fiber pasta to make it a bit healthier, too.

NOTE: If the top of your lasagna isn’t nice and golden by the end of 30 minutes, turn on the broiler for a minute or so before removing lasagna from the oven.

One Response to “Lasagna al Pesto”

  • Mal:

    What! The person who got you that book had no ulterior motive for getting it. She just thought you would like it. But this was by far my favorite thing I’ve had in a while… even since Italia.