Hello, I am Alessandro (Marsha’s husband ) and this will be a guest post. I helped marginally the posts of Marsha as a “tech support”, but this is the first time I endeavor to write my own entry in eine prise lecker.
The reason for this post is celebrate the enormous luck I had in growing up under the culinary tutelage of my grandmother (nonna) Ondina. I remember asking her for cooking lessons in the mid 90s and she started with the most complicated dish she could think of: Lasagne Verdi.
This is an holiday dish and carries a big caloric punch. The nutritional values oscillate between “Grandma thinks you are way too thin” and “you should have another piece”.
There are three main components in lasagne verdi:
- 7 eggs
- 700 g of general purpose flour; add as needed
- 200 g of spinach
- a pinch of salt
If you are using fresh spinach you should cook it in a pan with little oil and water and a pinch of salt. If you are using frozen spinach, you can warm it in the microwave with little salt until they are room temperature and wring the water out of the spinach. Either frozen or fresh your spinach should be cooked, at room temperature and almost dry. Mince the spinach finely either with a knife or a food processor. Some recipes prescribe you to hide the texture of the spinach by passing the minced spinach through a fine mesh strainer, I find this step unnecessary.
Prepare a work surface, shape a well with the flour, then pour the eggs in it as well as the spinach. Use a fork and scramble the eggs with it, as you would scramble eggs in a bowl, don’t touch yet the flour well. Slowly add flour by sneaking with the fork toward the sides of the flour dam. Don’t break it just yet! The eggs have a tendency to behave like gaolers and they will all run away if you let them!
Include slowly the rest of the flour until it is too hard to mix it with a fork. At this point it should be safe to use your hands and work slowly but patiently on the dough. The amount of flour I specified in the ingredient list is considerably less than needed. The reason is that you will have adjust the content of flour to the water content of the spinach size of the eggs etc. Add flour gradually on the surface and incorporate it to the dough till the consistency of the dough is the optimal one. The result should be a tough but plastic (i.e. not bouchy) dough that feels moist but does not stick to the fingers or to the rolling pin.
Now cut the mass in four parts and put the parts in plastic bags. The gluten structure of the dough needs to relax for 20 minutes otherwise the dough will resist your efforts of rolling it. It is now an excellent moment to tidy up the kitchen, the work surface, wash the bowls and dry them.
Rolling, Rolling, Rolling
Your rolling pin should be of the rod type, not of the roller type. You need a mattarello! Sprinkle the surface with flour and knead the dough gently. Until you have formed a ball. Now grab your rolling pin and flatten the ball into a wide disk form. As soon as the disk is spread to exceeds the size of your working surface, you can wrap it gently on the pin and turn it, and let it hang partially from the table. The gravity will pull one side steady and you can flatten the portion that is resting horizontally toward the middle of the table. Then, wrap it, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat the procedure till you have a big flat disk roughly 1 meter wide and 2 mm thick.
Once this is done, cut the lasagne in rectangles 20×10 cm^2 (8“x4“ in case you are into archaic measuring systems) and let them dry overnight on a cloth. Why these sizes? My baking pan is 20×30 cm^2 and each lasagna piece will be easily manageable when parboiled. Beware of pulling the dough too thin. It will ruin the pasta texture of the lasagne and they might crack when drying overnight.