I know what you’re thinking. Lasagne? Is that really baking? What happened to the cakes, pies, pastries and breads?
Yeah, I was as surprised as you probably are when I read what we’d be making this month.
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
This month also marked the launch of the new Daring Kitchen website, and also saw the launch of a sister group, the Daring Cooks. Quite a lot for a single month! Even though they told us all it wasn’t intentional, it seemed fitting to have this month’s Daring Bakers recipe be something that crossed that line between baking and cooking.
I’d been meaning to try making my own pasta for a few years now. In fact, my father-in-law and step-mother-in-law got us a pasta machine for Christmas, one that their friend who makes pasta all the time uses. I hadn’t yet had a chance to break it in, so this challenged seemed like as good a time as any.
I wish I could say that my first time making pasta was easy, but to be honest, it really wasn’t. The recipe just seemed to be wrong somehow. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get all the flour and chopped up spinach to combine nicely into the eggs. The recipe mentioned that we shouldn’t be worried if ‘it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump’. Uhh, yeah. Mine looked more like floury green sludge than pasta. I decided to add another egg, and then a bit of water and hoped for the best. Luckily the pasta did come together, and after letting it rest, I set about rolling it out with my pasta maker.
Well, that didn’t go so great either. The bits of spinach kept getting stuck in the rollers and the dough kept tearing, even though I followed the directions carefully and ran everything through at the largest thickness first, slowly working my way down to thinner and thinner noodles. But oh well, I figured, I’ll just let them dry and cook them and then see how that goes.
Well, after they were cooked they didn’t look a whole lot better. In fact, I’d even say they looked worse. But I decided to hell with it, I was going to make this lasagne, and if it takes like crap, oh well, at least I tried, right? So I layered on my Bechamel, noodles, grana padano and a vegetarian ragu I’d made earlier in the day. I topped the whole thing off with some mozzarella and tossed it in the oven, hoping that if the noodles were gross, at least we’d be able to eat the cheese, bechamel and ragu.
And then we tasted it. And it was good.
Two lessons here: First, that pasta recipe was just not quite right, since I’m one of many Daring Bakers who couldn’t get their pasta to form with the ingredients as written! And second, I fortunately do still know how to make something tasty out of something that could have been a disaster.
Since the pasta recipe really didn’t work that well, I won’t post it here, but please do check out the hosts’ blogs for the recipe if you’re so inclined. My bechamel was from The Silver Spoon, and my ragu I just made up as I went along. Usually I’m good about writing down exactly what I used, but it was a long day in the kitchen, so to be honest I forgot! But the ingredients included tempeh, a can of whole tomatoes (no sodium added), cremini mushrooms, an onion, three cloves of garlic, balsamic vinegar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
The new Daring Bakers blogroll isn’t quite ready to go yet, so I’ll link you to the old version, which is mostly up to date. Check out what other folks did with their lasagne!