Layer upon layer

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Lately I’ve been thinking about layers. Mostly mundane ones: clothes, coats and covers, the management of which occupies a ridiculous amount of my time, what with a child and March’s capricious climate. Not that this ridiculous amount of time ever seems to pay off. I am, it seems, destined to always get it wrong and we end up either hot and bothered, cold and cantankerous or simply soaking wet.

My almost impressive ability to misjudge meteorological matters was less important when it was just me. But now I have a small boy clamped to my chest or clutching my hand, a small inappropriately dressed 18 month-old boy whose every sniff and sneeze precipitates a chorus of street tutting and disapproval –  ‘Non si fa cosi signora! Povero bambino‘ –  I wish I could judge the layers better! At least once in a while.

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Inappropriately dressed we’ve been walking in search of less mundane and more intriguing layers. Armed with Elizabeth Speller’s book of ten guided walks – of which we have now completed seven –  we’ve been discovering Rome anew, observing layer upon layer of her glorious and inglorious past and her shambolic and sublime present. Of course the great baroque facades, imperial ruins and palazzi of renaissance princes are stupendous. As are the tiny piazze, labyrinthine cobbled alleys and half forgotten fountains. But it’s the unexpected and incongruous that really arrests me, when fragments, as ES puts it, ‘burst forth.’

A single arch of an ancient edifice rising forlornly between two 19th century apartment blocks, a 2000 year old column holding up a tenement kitchen, a routine hole for a routine check by the Roman water board that has been appropriated by archeologists, a mechanics workshop built into an ancient pile of broken pots, an ancient arch – onto which an unsupervised dog is relieving himself – marooned in the middle of the pavement beside a busy road. Antiquity bursting forth and then just sitting there nonchalantly while perfectly modern lives roar or meander by. Layer upon layer.

At home there have been layers of lasagne.

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It has taken me a year to lift the pasta maker out of its box and clamp it to the work surface. I’m as proficient at procrastination as I am meteorological misjudgment. If the truth be known the chrome plated steel Imperia would still be languishing in cardboard at the bottom of the cupboard were it not for Paola: my friend and lasagne teacher. I met Paola a few years ago when she hosted a party for our mutual friend Sergio in her garden. It had been noted that we’d get on and that Paola was an excellent cook, We did and she is, particularly when it comes to la lasagna.

Before coming to Italy I was deeply suspicious of lasagna, traumatized by too many encounters with thick yellow sheets that managed  - quite impressively – to be both over and undercooked, big bulging layers of very busy ragu, floods of floury white sauce and cheddar crusts. Thud, squelch, indigestion. It was awful. I was scarred for lasagna life. So scarred, that even the more refined, relatively well executed lasagna left me unmoved. I decided it was best that I just let lasagna lie.

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I almost spurned the slice Vincenzo brought over to me during the party. Then I realised it was unlike any lasagna I’d ever seen. Paola rolls her fresh handmade egg pasta as thin as thin can be, which renders it light, extremely delicate and allows it to be the absolute protagonist, appearing in eight or nine layers. The sauces and others layers. whether they be a rich ragu, sautéed vegetables, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, a limpid white sauce are all merely supporting artists. Very important supporting artists mind: proud, present and bestowing deep flavour, but never swamping or overwhelming the star: the almost transparent leaves of pasta. The slice looked a little like a closed accordion, it managed to be delicate and imponderous and yet richly flavored and substantial. I ate three slices. I then lay in a somnolent posture under a tree.

Some years later I’m standing in Paola’s kitchen in her house near Velletri, a town about an hour south of Rome. It is a vast enviable space, with a pale marble-topped work surface, wood burning stove and wooden table long enough for twelve. It’s a comfortable and unpretentious space though, with nothing twee or themed about it, no suggestions of whimsical rustic. I note that I could spend a lot of time in this kitchen. We drink coffee and then roll up our sleeves, tie on our aprons and make lasagne.

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First we make our dough, kneading methodically and rhythmically until it’s smooth and soft as putty. Then we position ourselves bedside Paola’s chrome Imperia, launch a blizzard of flour over the worksuface and then begin passing the pieces of pasta between the metal rollers.  9 pieces, passed one by one through the six settings. That’s 54 rounds. 54 raptious rounds as rolling pasta is one of the nicest kitchen tasks I’ve undertaken in a very long time.

It never ceases to amaze me how a good and patient teacher can make even the most complicated of tasks seem entirely manageable and you – the student – feel capable and just a little chuffed. Not that rolling pasta is particularly complicated. You do need guidance though and some sound counsel about cutting, folding, feeding, dusting with flour and how to manage the ever-increasing lengths of soft, egg lasagne. I’ve tried as best I can to include Paola’s guidance in the recipe below. I do hope it is helpful. I would encourage you to find a teacher too, a patient and capable one.

And so the filling.  Being, as it is, the season for the tender-hearted warrior of the vegetable world, Rome’s glorious globe, a lasagna with artichokes and ricotta seems appropriate, at least it did in our flat last Monday. Having made your pasta and set it aside to rest, you set about preparing your other layers. First the artichokes, which need trimming, slicing and then cooking in olive oil and wine – a slow sauté/braise really until they are extremely tender. Extremely tender: a soft, creamy mush really but with some discernible pieces.

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Next you make a panful of béchamel, which needs to be loose, fluid and pourable. And finally you whip the ricotta into a light, lactic cream with whole milk and season it prudently. It’s also important to eat at a little of your ricotta cream on toast while you watch your son putting oranges and your purse in the washing machine.

Having rolled the pasta as thin as you dare, you need to par-boil it. A vast pan of well salted, fast boiling water is important, as is an equally large bowl of cold water and plenty of clean dry tea towels arranged strategically all over your kitchen  - which will make it feel a little like a chinese laundry. Bold and brave moves are best. Drop five sheets of lasagne into the water. Once the water comes back to the boil, let the sheets lumber and roll for a minute before scooping them out as you would a slippy, wriggling toddler from a bath tub, plunging them into the cold water (to halt the cooking and prevent sticking, the curse of long, exquisitely thin lasagne) and then spreading them out on the tea towels.

Now is all that’s left is to assemble, to put layer upon layer. A layer of Pasta, a layer of artichokes, béchamel and parmesan, another of pasta, the next of artichokes, ricotta and parmesan, another of pasta and so and so and so. Use scissors to snip the pasta into shape and do not be afraid of patches. Keep in mind the layers of artichoke, ricotta and bèchamel should be scarce and subtle sploges rather than a dense layer, supporting, bestowing flavour but never dominating. 15 minutes in the oven and then a 15 minute rest.

Layer upon layer for lunch. And what a good lunch: delicate and imponderous and yet richly flavored and substantial. A lunch during which I felt proud as punch. Paola ti voglio bene. This is may well become my Sunday best.

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This recipe is – like most of my posts – long and possibly rather daunting (and/or trying.)  The length is due to all the simple but numerous phases, please don’t let it deter you. Of course time, effort and organisation are required! But it is undeniably, irrefutably, assolutamente worth every minute, knead, rock and roll, chop, whisk and blooming-lovely layer.

Lasagne ai carciofi e ricotta – Artichoke and ricotta Lasagna

Inspired by Paola, with sound advice from Marcella Hazan and Franco and Ann Taruschio

serves 6

for the pasta

  • 300 g farina di semola (semolina flour) or plain pasta flour
  • 3 medium-sized free range eggs
  • a pinch of salt

for the artichoke layer

  • 8 large /10 medium globe artichokes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • a glass of white wine

for the bèchamel sauce

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 700 ml whole milk
  • salt
  • black or white pepper
  • nutmeg

For the ricotta layer

  • 300 g ricotta
  • 150 ml whole milk
  • salt
  • black pepper

and

  • 100 g parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Begin the pasta.  Make a mound of flour on the work surface and scoop a deep hollow in the center. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt. Break the eggs into the hollow and then using your fingers beak the yolks and start working the egg into the flour. Bring the dough together until you have a smoothly integrated mixture.

Knead the dough, pushing it forward with the heel of your palm. Fold the dough in half, give it a half turn and press it hard against the heel of your palm again. Knead for a full eight minutes by which time the dough should be smooth and soft as putty. Cover the pasta with cling film and set it aside.

Prepare the artichokes. Prepare the artichokes by first pulling away the darker tougher leaves, tugging them down towards the base of the artichoke and snapping them off just before the base. Then using a sharp knife, pare away the tough green flesh from the base of the artichokes and the stem. As you work, rub the cut edges of the artichoke with a cut lemon or sit them in a bowl of acidulated water. Slice away the stem and cut it into thick match sticks and then cut the bulb into 8 wedges. In a heavy based pan, warm the olive oil and then saute the artichoke pieces briefly. Add a pinch of salt and the wine, stir and reduce the flame so the artichokes bubble gently. Cover the pan and allow the artichokes to steam/braise for about 20 minutes or until they are extremely tender. The artichokes must not dry out, but stay extremely moist so add more water if necessary. Mash the artichokes gently with the back of the wooden spoon so they collapse into a creamy mush but with some discernible chunks.

Make the béchamel. In small pan heat the milk and bay leaf until it almost reaches boiling point. Remove the milk from the heat and then leave to sit for 5 minutes. Heat the butter in a heavy based pan; as soon as it starts to foam, whisk in the flour. Keep whisking steadily for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Add a little of the milk and whisk until you have a smooth paste. Return the pan to the heat and then add the rest of the milk, whisking continuously until the milk boils. Season with salt, black pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring and whisking frequently for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is thick.

Prepare the ricotta. Using a fork beat and whip the ricotta with the milk until you have a soft, light paste, season with salt and  black pepper.

Roll and cook pasta. Cut the ball of pasta into 9 pieces (the general rule is the number of pieces should be 3 times the number of eggs. So 3 eggs = 9 pieces). Sprinkle the work surface with flour. Set the pasta machine to the widest setting. Flatten one of the pieces of dough by pummeling it with your hands and then run it through the machine. Fold the pasta as you would an envelope by bringing the two ends over each other, so the piece is a third of its length, and run it through the machine again. Repeat with the other 8 pieces.

Close the gap in the rollers down by one notch and run the pasta pieces through one by one. Continue thinning the pieces progressively closing down the notches one by one until the pasta is as thin as you want it. Paola rolls her pasta through all six settings so it is impressively thin. You may need to cut the pieces in half.

Bring a large pan of well salted water to a fast boil. Prepare a large bowl of cold water. On your largest work surface spread out clean tea towels. Lower 5 sheets at a time into the water. Once the water has come back to a fast boil allow the sheets to cook for 1 minute before scooping them out, plunging them into the cold water and then laying them out on the clean tea towels. Repeat until all the sheets are cooked.

Set oven to 200 ° and grate the parmesan.

Assemble la lasagna. Rub a little olive oil and a smear of béchamel over the base of the tin ( a 34 cm tin is ideal). Arrange a layer of lasagne first, try not to have more than 6 mm of overlap, use scissors to cut the lasagne. Spread a thin layer of artichoke on the pasta, then a layer of béchamel and sprinkle over a little parmesan. Now another layer of pasta, another (thin) layer of artichoke and one of ricotta, more parmesan and a little olive oil. Repeat putting artichokes and parmesan in each layer but alternating bèchamel and ricotta. You should finish with the eighth layer of pasta. Spread over the last of the béchamel, sprinkle with parmesan and drizzle over a little olive oil.

Bake the lasagna in the pre heated oven for 15 minutes by which time it should have a golden crust and bubble at the edges, Allow the lasagna to rest for at least 15 minutes before bringing to the table and serving directly from the dish.

Eat layer upon layer.

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148 Comments

Filed under artichokes, food, fresh egg pasta, In praise of, pasta and rice, rachel eats Italy, recipes, ricotta, spring recipes, Uncategorized

148 responses to “Layer upon layer

  1. You have no idea how timely this post is for me! I have been craving lasagne ai carciofi, rather randomly and quite out of the blue, and am counting down the days – 30 – until we find ourselves back in Tuscany and in artichoke season! I will then make and eat it in all its forms, including this one. Not daunted by the long recipe at all, and I always enjoy your long posts ;)

  2. Wonderful post. But I AM daunted. I think this is a moment to work with a sympathetic friend as keen as I am to have a go and get it right. No chance of a knowledgeable teacher to hold my hand here. We’ll have to take a deep breath …. and jump.

    • rachel

      You just need to come to Italy and you can cook with Paola and I. But until then, a sympathetic friend, bottle of wine and the whole day could be delicious fun. I could give you on line advice. Jump, jump, jump…

      • Yes! I’ll jump! I have a friend of Italian extraction who’s a good cook and would jump with me. But I think another trip to Italy’s long overdue.

  3. Heavenly read this morning! Also very clarifying..I had to make lasagne for 60 once 4 a wedding and foolishly decided to make it all from scratch the night before..only didn’t know (until now) you were s’posed 2 cook the pasta sheets before assembling. All the homemade pasta which took about 12 hours to make dissolved leaving just ragu & glue. Fun times x

    • rachel

      Ragu and glue – sounds like a good name for something. A cooking artist maybe. So excited about you butcher, baker, ice cream maker project – you really rumble KLT. Counting down to the big day, I cannot flippin wait xxxx

  4. Oh how lovely, Rachel … and well might you be as pleased as Punch (only you’re a Judy). And I want a lesson with Paola too! And I want to be invited over to dinner to your place … so many ‘wants’.

  5. How beautiful! Nicely illustrated with instructive photos and the text is appropriately detailed . . . not too long at all. Thank you!

    • rachel

      That is good to hear and comforting in a world of short text, big typeface and speed reading. I think you have a real sensitivity when it comes to Italian food and ingredients which probably helps you make sense of the ramble. Hope you are well.

  6. I love that you are taking Luca on guided walks around Rome. I love that I learned a new word–shambolic! I love your words, and of course, I love the looks of that lasagna. Perfect.

    • rachel

      I love that you are here. We did another walk, got drenched and lost and very grumpy. Waiting for reliable weather for the final two walks x

  7. Oh my god, I am speechless, senza parole!!

  8. Peggi

    LOVE your blog and I am so glad my friend shared this post with me today as I have been mulling over lasagna recipes to decide which to bake. AND, I wasn’t sure whether I needed to cook the fresh pasta first so you have guided me in the right direction, thank you! This looks heavenly!

    • rachel

      Hi Peggi, so glad to have been of practical help (not usually my strong point with all my vague rambling). So nice to have you reading along.

  9. Betta

    lovely post rach :) let’s cook lasagna together soon!

  10. How did I not know about this book? I am ordering it at once. and hopefully also overcoming my fear of cooking artichokes.

  11. Ann

    Oh, sublime! As much as I love simple recipes, it’s somehow soul-satisfying to spend hours in the kitchen on a labor of love such as this. Eating is only half the pleasure.

  12. Good stuff. Much like you, I was scarred by my first encounters with lasagna in Britain. Stodge. Ugh. But the ones I’ve been eating recently in Italy are so different – Paola’s and one we did at the AAR yesterday. Like yours, it was artichoke, though when we sauted them we added some gremolata too. Its lemon zest really balanced any carbiness or dairyiness from the bechemel. (We didn’t use any ricotta, just bechemel and finely grated grano.)

  13. Rachel, you’ve outdone yourself. This looks exquisite and I’m dying that I’m not eating it. Clever, subtle alternative to bulky boy lasagna. As soon as I find an opening, I’m going to plug this into the afternoon. ken

    • rachel

      Bulky boy – ha. I’m sure you and Jody would have this down beautifully in no time at all. It is pretty fab.

  14. Oh, this looks delicious! I haven’t made pasta for ages, and am missing it. Talking of capricious weather – earlier this week, I thought we had reached spring. Today, we have 6 inches of snow (and still falling…). Hey ho, snow boots back on, I guess!

    • rachel

      I take snow over humidity, rain and dreary days. I know I shouldn’t complain. But I do. Making pasta is a tonic – go on.

  15. How you managed this kitchen project with a toddler in the house is beyond me! And what a perfect lasagne for spring.

  16. Dennis

    This sounds fantastic. You mentioned Marcella Hazan: if you haven’t tried it, be sure to try her lasagna with bits of ham and tomato and mozzarella (no “sauce”). She suggests spinach pasta and I agree.

  17. Thank you for another lovely, poetic, delicious post! Carciofi are my favorite, regardless of preparation, so there’s no lasagne I’d rather eat. But I am terrified! This one may best be left for a cooking party with a friend (maybe one whose kitchen is less cluttered than mine). If I were alone I fear a tantrum would be unavoidable, but I’d have to behave myself in front of another person, and perhaps I would even perform better with some exaggerated false confidence.

  18. Eha

    A labour of love: both the story and the absolutely beautiful recipe of how the dish should be cooked. So full of romance, I’ll place the recipe carefully in my kitchen files and one day when the sun is shining and i need a romantic outlet, I’ll try this!

    • rachel

      A labour of love and lasagna. It was. I know this will sounds trite, but once i took the plunge it was so much easier than I imagined. I urge you, once the sun shines and artichokes make eyes at you at the market – try. x

  19. Amy

    It is some sort of small accomplishment how most lasagna pasta manages to be both overcooked and undercooked, isn’t it? Unfortunately I’ve been turned off from lasagna for many years… never had lasagna like this though. I wish I could will myself to make it!!

    Loved reading about your reflections of layers (whether Roman, clothing or pasta-related).

    • rachel

      Ha yes, It is quite an achievement, I bet if you had to do it, you would’t be able. I think we have had similar lasagna experiences and trauma. This is the antidote. I could cheer you along on line as you roll. have a good weekend Amy x

  20. laura

    You had me at “layer upon layer”! Splendid first paragraph, followed by other great ones.
    As for your second paragraph, I soon gave up trying to please my Italian mother-in-law, a dear soul who felt that wool should be worn next to the body at all times. I spared my children that torture and they both grew up healthy anyway! :)
    Drooled over the rest of your post, both the photos and the recipe.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • rachel

      My grandma believed in wool against skin, just the thought of it makes me itch. People see Luca and I in the street with damp hair and inappropriate clothing tut and then mumble ‘e Inglese’ as if that explains everything. I am of course first an foremost a barbarian. Have a good weekend x

  21. love considering layers, especially as they reveal themselves. when we renovated our old house, we could imagine its previous lives, as we removed strange added walls, scraped wallpaper and cracked paint, and the like.
    a divine lasagna–and you are right: don’t be daunted. lasagnas by their nature are more about assembly the layers
    brava on your thin thin sheets.

    • rachel

      I was thinking about you today (zucchini pasta with rocket alla Nancy.) I imagine you know all about lasagna and yes you are right, it’s a lot about assembly, and organization too (which is not my strong point). I hope all is well with you all and the book xxx

  22. Nothing like homemade and fresh lasagna with lots of layers! Yummy! I will have to check this out and enjoy!

  23. andrbov

    VIVA I CARCIOFI!

  24. Your prose is as nurturing to my ear as your images to my eyes. Beautiful.

  25. Hi! This is a wonderful way to do lasagna! I love to make them also just with béchamel and some pesto, especially when I’m running out of time and cannot clean and cook all the veggies… have you ever tried lasagne al pesto?
    I’ll recommend your blog to my English friends always looking for good recipes :-)

  26. Awesome! Absolutely love this!

  27. I really like your blog and would love you to guest post on my, http://www.5thingstodotoday.com site. All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about.

    • rachel

      Hi, 5 things. So happy you like my blog and thank you for the kind offer, which I will have to refuse as I barely manage to do a post a week here neve rmind anywhere else. Keep up your delightful 5 things work and thanks again Rx

  28. This is a great lasagne recipe and I will be trying it as an alternative to the traditional recipe I normally use :) Katie B @ Minerva Collection – UK Handbags & Jewellery

  29. Yum, il pasticcio! I always used to cook that with my mother – I think she was happy to have a daughter so she could embark in these complicated cooking enterprises. Not that this is a difficult recipe at all, but in needs lots of logistics and helping hands. My first responsibility was to turn the handle, and then I was promoted to making the bechamel sauce and finally I graduated when I was allowed to handle the thin uncooked AND cooked layers!
    I never cook it anymore these days: too much work for one single person, plus alone it’s no fun, but I am definitely going to talk my mother into cooking this next time I visit!

    • rachel

      Hi Amara, You clearly know your lasagna and yes four hands are much better than too. I look forward to the day my little half Roman can crank the machine. So nice to have you here

  30. wow, seems pretty difficult to make!! Bravo!!

  31. This looks amazing. This makes me want to step it up and take the time to make my own pasta.

  32. Looks amazing! Really enjoyed post and pictures.

  33. Christine

    Wow. That lasagne looks amazing. Just wow. A friend of mine has a pasta roller. Maybe I’ll give her a call and give it a go.

    • rachel

      HI Christine, yes yes appropriate machine and enlist your friend – four hands are better than two. A glass of wine is always advisable when undertaking such kitchen projects.

  34. Looks delicious! My hubby and I moved to Naples two months ago but haven’t worked up to such complicated recipes. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • rachel

      When I first came to Italy, I flew into Naples, I still have such vivid memories and look forward to spending more time there . All the best with your new life a napoli

  35. Lasagna, is one of my absolute favorite dishes to make. So many combinations and so many ways to bake. I sooooo love that you are making the layers from scratch though! It’s been a while since I’ve done that :)

  36. I have never seen such a goodlooking lasagna before. Drool is dripping off my mouth as i type. Wonderful!
    Only if we could buy artichokes in India..

    • rachel

      But you have mangos. i still dream about the piles of mangos and papaya, okra, pumpkin, curious greens, mounds of spices and grains in India

      • :) true. The mango season is yet to completely set in..the ones in the market now are over-priced and of inferior quality according to several newspapers. But yes, if one knows where to buy the mangoes and what type, it’s yummy.

        And ah yes, i always forget how papaya is an exotic fruit in non-tropical countries :) Great post though!

  37. Hilary

    It looks absolutely delicious Rachel. As ever, with your posts, there is a treasure apart from the fantastic food – a must-visit restaurant in Rome, a poetic expression, a glorious typo (sorry, but I mentally collect these, and mailable cabbage leaves is up there with the classics!!), and now the book of Roman walks – I have ordered it already!! Grazie mille!

    • rachel

      Ha, oh my, ha – Hilary you are brilliant and as much as i want to go back and correct my comedy mistake, I’m going to leave it, as mailable cabbage leaves matter. And the typo in this post?, I’m sure there is at least one (it’s not spell check you know it’s me, I am Mrs Malaprop.) The book is just lovely and I am so glad you are getting it. Hope you are well

      • Hilary

        oh, I am glad you like that one, and are not tempted to correct it. I love it when mistakes like that make sense – it would, after all, be much easier to get a cooked cabbage leaf into an envelope than a fresh one!! I don’t believe I saw a typo in this post – but I am happy to point them out if you aren’t sensitive about them!! I hope you get to enjoy some dry weather soon! (we can only dream of wet weather here at present).

  38. Lauren

    I know this is a late comment but with what seems to have been an eternity of hot hot weather that has tested my concentration I’ve only just managed to read the entire post! I can’t wait to find some artichokes and give this one a go I may have to revisit trimming them though, it has never been my strong point <3

    • rachel

      You faithful lot, I love that you read, even though I ramble at great length. Even in the heat! I managed to trim the first two pretty well, then it all went slightly wonky for the other 6. It didn’t matter though, as they are cooked into a chaotic much. Keep cool x

  39. I have to add this to my to do list, I haven’t tackled artichokes before

  40. Thank you. I will pass the receipe to my wife and have her try making the dish. https://bradfordcares.wordpress.com/

    • rachel

      Sounds like a good plan, I hope you will be on hand to help though, four hands are better than two when it comes to sloppy, just cooked lasagne….

  41. That lasagna looks divine!!! I wish I had the guts to give it a try. I’ve just never made pasta before. I think I should schedule a trip to Italy for some lessons :-)

  42. This dish looks fabulous! I love artichokes and cannot wait to add them to lasagna. I might prepare this as a side for my Thanksgiving feast!

  43. Ok, you’ve inspired me to dust off the pasta maker and give your lasagne recipe a go! Thank you, my cleaners going to love you.. Fantastic blog. A true inspiration.

    • rachel

      Excellent news. My machine was embarrassingly dusty but now it is out I a have become a pasta making fiend. Oh and thank you very much.

  44. My stomach is growling so loud after reading this, my almost def 17 y/o elderly dog can hear me. Fresh is the best, making homemade noodles is such a fun and rewarding process. Loved the post. Now off to find some lunch.

  45. Reading your rendition of bad lasagnas was so funny. I had the same experiences. Then I are lasagna in Rome and my lasagna world changed forever. Enjoy your newfound deliciousness!!!

  46. Wow that looks so good! I’ve never made lasagna from scratch before. Maybe I’ll add it to my list of recipes.

    • rachel

      I highly recommend it. You might like to enlist another pair of hands to help negotiate the just cooked sheets and open the wine..

  47. This looks amazing! I have only ever attempted lasagna on my own once. I should take my pasta machine out of its box again! My Dad’s family is from Abruzzo, where they make timbalo (a type of “lasagna” made with crepes/crespelle instead of pasta sheets). You should try that out too! :)

  48. Pingback: EAT Nº 1 – Lasagna | frolicme

  49. Divine Cartomancy

    I love lasagna, I have never made it from scratch. I feel I may have been inspired to, thank you.

  50. Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL food!! And pasta that is both under and overcooked??? I know exactly what you mean! LOL :-)

    • rachel

      Thanks………and you understand! I just wonder how this kitchen feat (we english are so good at) is possible: I bet if you had to do under and overcooked – it would be impossible.

  51. Now to the basement, for my pasta maker. I have not seen layers as thin as yours, but I will try!

    • rachel

      Yes yes, dust off the pasta machine. I would never have rolled my pasta that thin without Paola, but it really does make all the difference for lasagna when you want lots of delicate layers.

  52. paulaptr

    Lovely . . . what a lucky little boy you have, and what wonderful friends. In recent years, I have not loved cooking as I once did. The experience of this post may just reawaken than gift. Thank you!

    • rachel

      A cheeky little boy too. very cheeky and apt to throw pasta at the walls. What a nice thing to hear. Thank you for reading

  53. I have always wanted to attempt to make my own pasta, even if it turns out bad it will be an experience. Thank you for your inspiration.

  54. Pingback: Reciprocal roasting | rachel eats

  55. Oh, wow, Rome and Italian food! Why didn’t I find your blog before? Answer, because I hadn’t read the unfair mention you got on Clouds Moving In where my post on sheep farmers was also unfairly slated. so I had to come and find you. :-)

    This post, added to helping my daughter make lasagne the last time we visited her, makes it imperative that I unearth the pasta machine she gave me aeons ago and which is still languishing in the back of a cupboard.

    Gorgeous writing.

    • rachel

      Hello Perpetua,
      …brought together by a razor sharp journalist with a dog in Gibralter! Ironically I should thank her for bringing me lots of nice visitors. Or maybe not, her hardcore rant about my blog, style, spelling and recipes (boring, shite, unoriginal, pretentious, crap) left me feeling pretty horrible. I need to be thicker skinned I know. We, on the other hand, seem to have much in common, that is lasagna, lamb and languishing pasta machines. Coming over to read about sheep farming. All the very best Rachel

  56. Pingback: Lasagne. You Gotta Problem With Dat? « Putney Farm

  57. hotcrossbungay

    Reblogged this on FOREST HALL FOOD.

  58. Pingback: Good Food Matters » Blog Archive » Little Lasagna Rolls, spinach-ricotta-speck filling, red pepper-tomato sauce

  59. Exactly what I was looking for on a sleepless night ;). Thanks for the post.

  60. in absolute love with this post. everything about it is everything i adore about what you do. the food the photos the writing. gosh rachel.

  61. Pingback: Homemade Ricotta Cheese for March’s Daring Cooks Challenge | Simply Sophisticated Cooking

  62. You make it look so simple and effortless. I’ve been on the hunt for a great lasagna recipe for a while and I think this is the one. Great post!

  63. Pingback: Recipes to Try | Live and Learn

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