Friday, 5 December 2008

Tyler Florence's Ligurian Lasagna

Oh carbs, how I love you.

This week in Tyler Florence Fridays, I made Ligurian Lasagna from Eat This Book, page 147.

This is a free-form lasagna with a creamy pesto ricotta filling, studded with Yukon Gold potatoes, green beans (asparagus in my case) and generously seasoned with basil and Pecorino (I used Parmesan). Yes, it's that good.
Hubby and I have been wanting to make a pasta in this style ever since seeing Laura Calder make this mushroom ravioli on her show French Food at Home. Not very French, I know, but she was having her Italian teacher over for dinner that night.
I love the thought of a freeform lasagna or ravioli with large sheets of pasta. Tres chic, non? After all, I looked on a map and found that Liguria was rather close to France....
Ligurian Lasagna - Tyler Florence, Eat This Book
1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes
Kosher salt
1 pound haricots verts or young green beans, trimmed. (I used asparagus)

2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Leaves from 2 large bunches of fresh basil, stemmed
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 tbsp plain yogurt
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese (I used Parmesan)
1 lb fresh pasta dough
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese (I used Parmesan)

Make the Pasta Dough and set aside to rest.
Cook the potatoes: Put the potatoes into a pot, cover them with water, add salt. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain them and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut into small chunks, drizzle with olive oil.
Steam the asparagus until just tender, set aside.

Make the pesto: Puree the garlic, pine nuts, and oil in a food processor. Add the basil and process again. Add the ricotta, yogurt and cheese and process just until combined. Set aside.

To assemble:
The assembly instructions are changed from the book to reflect how I put it together.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, lay down one layer of pasta, add a layer of the pesto ricotta, and sprinkle on the beans and potatoes. Add another layer of pasta, pesto ricotta, beans and potatoes. Top with a third layer of pasta, top with cheese.
Continue with the rest of the pasta and fillings.
Tyler has this served at room temperature but I heated it up in a mildly hot oven until warm.
I added fresh basil and served it with roasted veggies seasoned with balsamic vinegar, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Pasta instructions:

To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue to mix until a smooth dough is formed. If the dough is too dry drizzle in a bit of water, if it is too wet sprinkle in some more flour. Dust some flour on a work surface, knead and fold the dough until it is elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
Roll out the dough: Cut the ball of dough in quarters, cover and reserve the pieces you are not using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine set at the widest setting 2 or 3 times. Guide the dough with your hand as it emerges from the rollers to prevent it from puncturing or stretching. Dust the sheets with extra flour whenever the dough gets sticky. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again 2 or 3 times. Continue reducing the setting and rolling until the machine is at its narrowest setting; the dough should be about 1/8-inch thick. (I do mine to the 5th mark on the roller, a little thicker.) Roll out the other pieces.

Place rolled dough on a cookie sheet sprinkled generously with cornmeal. Allow the cornmeal to dust both sides of the pasta.

Cook in boiling, salted water until al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain and place on rimmed sheetpan. Drizzle generously with olive oil so that it soaks it up and doesn't stick.
I've gotta tell you, one of my favourite parts of this recipe has been learning new techniques in keeping my fresh pasta sheets from sticking together. The cornmeal on the sheetpan and the olive oil after boiling are genius. I will forever be in Tyler's debt for these fabulous pointers.
Addicted to Tyler Florence Fridays yet? Come play with us in this brand new cooking group where you decide which Tyler Florence recipe to make each week. Choose, create and share - round-up every Friday on the TFF blogsite.