Thursday, August 1, 2013
Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna
I guess you can say this is a healthy-ish lasagna. One serve of this will probably meet the much hyped about daily vegetable requirement. I have also opted to sprinkle cheese only on the top layer to make it less “fatty”. If you are not too concern about your calories intake (lucky you!), go crazy and sprinkle as much cheese as you like between each layer. And did I mention about the calories that you will burn from the good 10 minutes of vigorous kneading. That’s exercise for the day sorted. Win-win, I say.
Each piece of the pasta was lovingly rolled by hand using the good old trusty rolling pin, which goes to show that pasta machine is not a necessity. I have to give myself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna
Makes 20cm x 26cm lasagna. Serves 4-6.
300 grams spinach, thoroughly washed
400 grams plain flour
pinch of salt
900 ml full cream milk
100 grams butter
100 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon salt (season with more or less salt to your taste)
4 anchovies, finely chopped (optional but highly recommend)
You will also need:
Roughly 800 grams of mixed mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used 200 grams king oyster mushrooms, 200 grams oyster mushrooms, 200 grams shimeji mushrooms and 200 grams brown mushrooms)
Roughly 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil (or truffle oil)
To make spinach pasta:
Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan on high heat. When pan is hot, put as much spinach as will fit into the pan, constantly stirring. When spinach starts to wilt, keep adding more spinach until it is all in. Put spinach into a bowl and leave to cool.
As soon as spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much of the water as you can. Puree the spinach in a blender, then mix with the eggs.
Place the flour on a clean work surface and make a well in the centre. Pour spinach and eggs mixture into the well and add a pinch of salt. Use your fingers to gradually bring in the flour from the sides. Continue stirring and kneading until flour is well-incorporated. At this stage, if the dough still seems too wet and sticky, gradually add more flour (I found that I need an additional 1/4 cup of flour).
Wash your hands and dry them well. Now it is time to start kneading. Sprinkle some extra flour on the work surface, knead the dough with the heel of your hands until the surface of the dough feels satin-smooth and elastic. Basically, you need to push the heel of your hand away from you and through the dough to stretch it. Then fold the elongated dough back on itself and rotate the dough ball by a quarter turn and knead again. Keep doing this until the dough gets that silky-smooth feeling. This will take about 10 minutes.
Wrap the pasta dough in cling wrap and let it rest for a minimum of 20 minutes at room temperature away from draughts. (While the dough is resting, start making bechamel sauce.)
Now the dough is ready to rolled in the pasta machine or with a rolling pin. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll dough down to about the thickness of a playing cut. Cut into rectangles to fit the size of your baking dish.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then add some salt and a few drops of olive oil. Cook the pasta rectangles 1 at time for 1 minute. Lift them out using tongs or a large slotted spoon. Then lay them on tea towels to dry.
To make bechamel sauce:
Heat the milk in a saucepan just until a few bubbles start to appear on the surface, then remove from the heat.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and making sure that the flour does not colour. Remove from the heat and slowly add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring constantly to stop lumps from forming. When all the milk has been amalgamated, place the sauce back over low heat, season with salt and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture has the consistency of thick cream. Mix in anchovies.
To assemble the lasagna:
Preheat the oven to 200 degree celcius (or 180 degree celcius fan-forced).
Spread some of the bechamel sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a piece of pasta on top, then more sauce, then the mushrooms, drizzle over olive oil (or truffle oil). Repeat 2 more times, layering pasta, sauce, mushrooms and oil. Top with a final piece of pasta and sauce, and sprinkle with the parmesan.
Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes, or until the top is browned. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes.