A while back I was browsing the website of the fabulous David Lebovitz and he posted on how to make fresh pasta dough. It wasn’t so much the recipe for pasta dough that got my pulses racing; it was the picture of the lasagna he posted at the end.
It looked so good! I just had to try it! But sadly there was no recipe for the lasagna, because Mr. Lebovitz hadn’t used one. Bummer. Lucky for me he did give a short description of the dish:
‘I didn’t post a photo of the finished lasagna because it might prompt folks requesting a recipe, and I didn’t use one. It’s just layered with a tomato sauce I made with ground pork, spices, and a few anchovies, then the other layer was a seasoned ricotta cheese mixed with eggs and generous handfuls of chopped greens that were stewed with lots of garlic and some bacon.’
Well, that didn’t sound too hard.
So last Sunday I put on my most creative hat and got cooking with only the picture of an unfinished lasagna in Paris in my mind and a general idea of what it should taste like. Forward March!
First major point of difference: I didn’t make my own lasagna leaves. I bought some – fresh that much I did do – lasagna leaves at the supermarket.
Second major difference: I added spinach to my ricotta-mixture instead of bacon. I had been seduced by some fresh spinach at the supermarket thinking it would be nice for the children to have some spinach-potato mash earlier in the week, but then – loo and behold – n° 2 decided she no longer liked spinach. So there I was with a left over bag of spinach and a child who was redefining picky-eaterhood. Into the ricotta the spinach went.
Third major difference: I didn’t use any anchovies in my tomato sauce. It is not that I don’t like anchovies – I adore them actually – but I didn’t think they would be good in the recipe I had in mind.
In other words: I took the Mona Lisa, cut out the face, replaced it with one of my eldest child’s doodles and sold it as artwork. Voila!
Looks tasteful doesn’t it?
Here is how I set to work:
Ingredients (for two, but can serve four moderate eaters, it turned out quite filling)
400 gr. of ground pork
4 carrots, cleaned and cut
½ bell peper, cut into squares
1 can or 400 gr. of chopped tomatoes
400 ml. of chicken stock (cube)
1 onion, chopped
4 small garlic cloves, chopped
200gr. of fresh spinach
200gr. of ricotta
4 fresh lasagna leaves
Rosemary , thyme, salt and pepper
Take the onion and 2 of the garlic cloves and sauté them in olive oil until they are glazed over and oily, add the rosemary and thyme and stir until they give of their odors.
Add the ground pork and bake until nice and brown.
Add the pepper and carrots to the meat and stir .
Yank open the can of chopped tomatoes and add it to the pot, fill the can with water and throw it in with the tomatoes, now take one cube of chicken stock and crumble it into the pot. Stir and leave to shimmer for 20 minutes over low heat.
Season with pepper and salt.
Next make the ricotta mixture:
Break the eggs into a bowl and add the ricotta, whisk them together until you have a smooth mixture.
In another pot heat some olive oil and add the rest of the garlic.
Cut up the spinach and add to the olive oil and garlic, stir about until the spinach is cooked
To prove that I am only human I took this picture:
When the spinach was already in the pot I saw that I hadn’t cut it up fine enough, so I took a pair of kitchen scissors, turned off the heat and hacked away until I was happy with the result.
When the spinach is to your liking add it to the egg and ricotta mixture.
Now build the lasagna: pour an amount of the tomato sauce in a lasagna dish (I like to use individual dishes so I don’t have to cut up a lasagna, that always gets messy) covering the bottom, put on lasagna leafs until the sauce is covered with lasagna leafs, spoon the egg+ricotta+spinach concoction on top, cover with lasagna leafs and finish the whole with the rest of the tomato sauce.
Top of generously with freshly grated parmesan.
Set in an 200C° – F° oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Thank you Mr. Lebovitz it was delicious!