In the last two days I was able to gather great ingredients at some of my favorite suppliers:
- Russo’s — for fresh-picked spinach and some nice beets
- Whole Foods River Street — Kite Hill Ricotta made from Almond Milk, and a big, fat Portobello Mushroom, plus Organic Padron Peppers from Mexico
- Social Wines — Pottarello, an Umbrian, mostly Sangiovese wine
and tonight we were able to enjoy many of these ingredients in the best lasagna I ever made. It was almost vegan, the only exception being a small amount of grated mozzarella on top, for which I have yet to find a suitable vegan alternative.
Last night I had oven-roasted the diced Portobello at 475º F., after marinating it for an hour in lemon juice, olive oil, Alea salt, and cracked pepper. I wanted to do it while the mushroom was fresh, before it started to wilt in the refrigerator.
To make the lasagna, it required a number of simple steps tonight:
- boil the lasagna noodles (I had some very good foglie (leaves) of pasta from Gragnano, Campania, Italy)
- make a bechamel sauce, with 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1.75 Tbs. flour, stirred continuously with a wooden spoon, then adding a little at a time 1 cup of Almond Milk, and heating slowly until somewhat thickened.
- pull the stems off the spinach, wilt the leaves in a covered, non-stick pan with a little olive oil and salt, then chop
- pulse the cubes of Portobello in the food processor until more finely chopped
- process one container of Kite Hill Ricotta with olive oil and black pepper in the small Cuisinart
- divide the finished bechamel in thirds, and combine with the spinach, ricotta, and mushrooms, respectively
- open a jar of tomato sauce, or in my case, purée several canned Italian tomatoes, adding salt, pepper, and good quality oregano
- assemble the whole dish in my favorite Italian terra cotta baking dish, starting with a layer of tomato sauce and olive oil, then a layer of pasta sheets, a layer of the ricotta/besciamella (bechamel in Italian), a layer of spinach/besciamella, and a layer of mushroom/besciamella. Then repeat with another layer of each. Top with a layer of pasta, more besciamella, a cup of tomato sauce, and some grated mozzarella (q.b.)
- bake in a preheated 375º F. oven for 45 minutes
- serve with a few glasses of Pottarello, a blend of Sangiovese (80%), Colorino (10%), and Malvasia Nera (10%)
- enjoy the luscious mouth feel of the vegetables, ricotta/besciamella blend and well-cooked pasta, along with the earthiness of the Sangiovese from Umbria
Ah, yes; I had the beets and the Padron Peppers for lunch, with a glass of 2012 Fausse Piste Syrah from Oregon’s Columbia River Valley.