Walnut Lasagna of Podere La Fonte

This walnut lasagna, made by Emanuela Giua at Podere La Fonte with nuts from her own trees, was the most scrumptious dish of the season. If you don’t have the patience to make your own pasta, buy fresh lasagna sheets if possible from your local Italian market.

Ingredients for 8 full-sized servings:

4 cups bechamel sauce (recipe below)

16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

2 cups finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 cups chopped or roughly crushed walnuts

Handmade egg pasta (see recipe below) made with 2 cups double zero flour, 2 cups semola grano duro flour (or 4 cups all purpose) and four eggs, rolled into sheets approximately 4 inches wide and 8 inches long, or to cut to fit into your baking dish.

Assembling the Lasagna:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Bring a large kettle of water to boil, then add 1 generous tablespoon of sea salt.
  • Boil the pasta in a few sheets at a time, and remove before it is completely cooked.
  • Spread the sheets out to cool on clean cotton towels as you finish cooking all the pasta.
  • Spread a thin layer of bechamel sauce on the bottom of a baking pan approximately 17 inches long and 10 inches wide, with sides at least 3 nches high.
  • Place a layer of pasta over the bechamel.
  • Spread more bechamel over the pasta.
  • Sprinkle  chopped walnuts  over the bechamel.
  • Place generous dollops of mozzarella cheese over the walnuts, then sprinkle generously with parmigiano reggiano (top grade parmesan) cheese.
  • Repeat layering until all the pasta is used. The last layer should be parmesan cheese. If you run out of space, make another pan.
  • Bake approximately 45 minutes in at 375 degrees fahrenheit, or until lightly golden on top. Let rest ten minutes then serve.

Egg Pasta Recipe

8 servings

2 cups of semola di grano duro*

2 cups of 00 grade flour (or all purpose or whole wheat)

4 eggs

2 cups of tepid water

Salt

1 tbsp olive oil

The proportions of liquid to dry ingredients depend upon the size of eggs and type of flour.

Place the flour on the board with salt and form a volcano (or do the same in a bowl to avoid a premature dam break!). Make a well and add the eggs into the center of the flour. Being careful not to break through the walls of the flour crater, stir the eggs with a fork until blended. (Gradually stir in the from the center of the crater, until the egg/flour mixture is thickened to a gooey paste.) Then knead in just enough more flour with hands to make an elastic dough that is neither sticky nor dry. If it is too dry add a little water; if too sticky add more flour. Knead another five minutes, then cover with a bowl and let rest 15 minutes on a lightly floured board or marble slab.

To roll out the dough by machine, which is easier, start at the number 1 (thickest) setting, and run a flattened ball of dough roughly the size of your fist through the pasta rollers repeatedly, each time turning the dial to a higher number (tightening the space between the rollers) for a progressively thinner sheet of pasta. For lasagna noodles stop when you roll it out to the number 4 setting; for ravioli or pappardelle or tagliatelle, keep going until you reach the number 6, thinnest setting.  In this way you will knead the dough as you roll it out and when you are finished, the pasta will be the correct thinness for making lasagna, ravioli, pappardelle or tagliatelle.

To roll out by hand, using a floured board, marble slab or clean cotton table cloth, generously flour the surface and, if using the recipe for four eggs, place the whole ball of dough on the surface and start rolling it out, using a very wide wooden rolling pin or dowel rod, ideally a dowel rod that is 3 “ thick and two feet long and cured with olive oil. Lightly flour the surface of the rolling pin and begin rolling first from one side, then the other, then a third side, and a fourth side.  As the dough becomes thinner, you can wrap it around the rolling pin and then roll it back out into a flat sheet with a snapping motion, thus ensuring the dough is all the same thickness.  If you use a smaller rolling pin, your dough will come out all different thicknesses and then not cook evenly in the end. So if you must use a shorter rolling pin, roll out smaller batches of dough that do not become wider than the pin.  This process takes at least 30 minutes.

*Semola is not the same as semolina. Semola is a finer grind. Do not subsitute with semolina—it is too heavy. If you can’t find semola, just use all purpose flour or whole wheat.

Béchamel Sauce Recipe

(for layering in lasagna)

5 tbsp Butter

4 tbsp Flour

4 cups of milk

pinch of salt

a few gratings of nutmeg if you like

Melt the butter in a pot, being careful not to brown it.  Stir in flour until smooth and make a roux. Cook until the roux is golden brown.  Heat the milk in a separate pan and add the milk slowly to the roux and stir until smooth and thick but still and semi-liquid velvety (a wire whisk is good for this purpose).  Add a pinch of salt to taste.


 

 

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