Chef Marco Canora's Lasagna Verde

A Tasty Italian Recipe From the Chef at NYC's Insieme Restaurant.

Dec. 20, 2007 — -- Follow Insieme Restaurant Executive Chef & Founding Partner, Marco Canora's recipe for his classic italian treat!

Find out more at the James Beard Foundation.

Lasagna Verdi

Bolognese Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 stalks celery, minced

3 carrots, peeled and minced

1 medium red onion, minced

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound ground beef

1/3 pound pancetta, minced

1 1/3 cups tomato paste

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 cups red wine, preferably a dry red table wine

2 2/3 cups canned tomatoes

2 cups meat stock

Spinach Pasta Ingredients:

1/2 pound fresh spinach, cleaned and stems trimmed

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

BéchamelIngredients

6 tablespoons butter

3 cups milk

4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground

black pepper to taste

Pinch nutmeg

1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bolognese

Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, about 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, onion, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, beef, and pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until the meat is thoroughly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Lower heat to medium-low, add tomato paste, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the milk and simmer, stirring frequently, to avoid browning on the bottom of the pan. Continue simmering until the milk reduces and is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid is evaporated and the pan is once again almost dry, about 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock, turn the heat to low so the sauce gently simmers, and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated and sauce is thickened, about 3 hours.

Spinach Pasta

Cook spinach in boiling salted water until it turns vibrant green, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, and run cold water over it. Drain again, squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible, and chop.

Combine eggs, flour, and spinach in a food processor. Add salt and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is soft and pliable, about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into thirds. Set pasta machine to the widest setting, Flatten one portion of dough into a rectangle and run through machine. Fold in half crosswise and run through again. Continue, adjusting machine to thinner settings after every 2 passes, until pasta is 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3" by 11" strips and transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Blanch pasta, a few strips at a time, in boiling salted water. Cook until pasta floats to the surface, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, remove pasta from water and drain well. Repeat with remaining pasta.

Béchamel

Combine butter and milk in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and bring the contents of the pan to a boil, watching carefully to make sure the milk doesn't boil over. Lower heat and allow sauce to actively simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and keep warm over low heat. Strain before serving.

Preheat oven to 350*.

To assemble the lasagna, spoon just enough Bolognese sauce to cover the bottom of a 9" by 11" baking dish. Spoon a thin layer of béchamel over sauce and top with about 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cover with a layer of pasta and repeat steps until you have 4 layers of pasta, ending with a generous topping of Bolognese, béchamel, and the remaining grated cheese. Bake until the lasagna is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6 servings

Yield: One 9" x 11" lasagna

Chef's Tips:

Though the classic Italian recipe for Bolognese includes veal, beef, and pork, chef Canora uses only beef and pork because he feels that the delicate flavor of veal is overwhelmed by the other components. Chef Canora recommends a doppio concentrato (double concentrate) of San Marzano tomato paste for this recipe, but if you can't find it, regular tomato paste will do.

If you don't have a pasta machine, you can also roll the pasta out with a rolling pin until it is 1/8-inch thick.

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