Lasagnette alla Fiorentina

Lasagna Rounds with Spinach Ricotta Filling

These individual sized red, green and white Lasagnette alla Fiorentina are a colorful tribute to Italy and as delicious as they are beautiful. You can prepare them the day ahead and then bake them at the last minute for an elegant and heart warming primo piatto. These were created by Chef Francesco Costagli of the Michelin one star restaurant Albergaccio di Castellina. You can learn from this renowned Terra Madre chef in Il Campo Cucina’s week long Food and Wine Adventure programs: http://www.ilcampoitalia.com/.

Recipe for 4 servings

Ingredients 

Pasta:

2 eggs

200 grams or 2 cups 00 flour

Tomato Sauce:

200g or 1-1/4 cups or 8 oz. tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Filling:

100g or 3.5 oz. spinach

150g or 2/3 cup ricotta cheese

50g or ¼ cup parmesan

Bechamel:

200g ¾ cup milk

10g or 2 teaspoons butter

10g  or 5 teaspoons flour

salt

Instructions:

First make the pasta:

Make a mound of the flour on a wooden board or marble slab and form a well in the center.

Crack the eggs into the center of the well and, using a fork or your fingers, stir the eggs into the flour, gradually absorbing the flour from the sides of the well into the liquid center. Be careful to keep the sidewalls intact. Keep stirring in flour just until you have a dough that sticks together and is not too dry. Push aside the remaining flour and knead the dough with the heels of your hands, folding it over and turning it a quarter turn with each push, for 2-3 minutes or until you have a nice elastic consistency. Incorporate more flour as needed to keep the dough from turning sticky, but be careful not to add too much as this will make it tough. Place the dough in a bowl covered with a dishtowel or wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

While the dough rests, make the sauce, bechamel and ricotta-spinach filling.

To make the tomato sauce:

Blanch the tomatoes and remove the peels (or use canned plum tomatoes imported from Italy). Place a saucepan with 2 tablespoons olive oil on the stove. Coarsely chop the tomatoes into the pan over medium high heat, and let cook 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes cook down into a sauce.  Turn off the heat. Puree the tomatoes with an immersion blender, add salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

To make the béchamel:

In a large saucepan, melt the butter, whisk in a small amount of the milk and 5 heaping tablespoons flour. This will form a dry paste. Whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in the remainder of milk. Cook and continue whisk until the béchamel begins to boil and thicken. Turn off the heat. Add salt to taste. Cover the sauce with a sheet of baking parchment to keep it from forming a skin.

To make the spinach and ricotta filling:

Thoroughly wash the spinach then cook it until the leaves wilt and the stems are tender. Gather the spinach into a ball and wring out all of the water, then chop it up into small pieces. Place the ricotta in a bowl and mix it with the spinach and then add the Parmesan cheese. Stir until well blended.

Now roll out and cut the pasta rounds:

After the dough rests for at least 20 minutes, knead it a few more times then begin rolling it out. Cutting off pieces about half the size of your fist, roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured board into an oblong slab approximately ¾ to ½ inch thick and 6 inches wide (narrow enough to run through a pasta machine). Set the machine at the thickest setting, and feed the dough through the two rollers, cranking the pasta out into a long sheet. Turn the rollers to the next setting and continue running the pasta sheet through the machine in decreasing thicknesses down to the thinnest setting. Rest the dough on a clean dishtowel or cotton tablecloth, and continue rolling out the dough until all of the pasta is finished. (If the weather is damp, you might need to slightly flour the surface of the dough to keep it from getting sticky.) Use a 4 inch round cookie cutter to cut out circles of dough, or simply cut the dough into squares with a pastry cutter, keeping them all the same size. You should have at least 20-24 circles (or squares) for four lasagnettes.

Then assemble the lasagnettes:

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Count the dough rounds and make each lasagnetta with the same number of rounds. Now—if you have a metal round you can use this as a form inside which you can build the lasagnette, but don’t worry if you don’t. Make stacks of lasagna in this order fro the bottom up:

1.    Teaspoon béchamel

2.    Pasta round

3.    Spinach/ricotta filling

4.    Pasta round

5.    Half teaspoon béchamel

6.    Spinach/ricotta filling

7.    Pasta round

8.    Half teaspoon béchamel

9.    Spinach/ricotta filling

10.  Pasta round

11.  Spinach/ricotta filling

12.  Pasta round

13.  Spinach/ricotta filling

14.  Half teaspoon béchamel to finish.

The lasagnette can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Before baking, preheat the oven to 390 F (or 200 C).

Bake the lasagnette for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Just before serving, pour a ladle of tomato sauce in the center of each plate; place the baked lasagna rounds over the sauce. Drizzle a tablespoon of béchamel artfully over the sauce. Serve immediately.