The Food Network is evil

The Food Network is evil. They really are. The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, PBS – all cooking shows in general are EVIL. They offer me ideas and suggestions and PICTURES that lead to strange cravings, like Fresh Peach Cake and Parmesan Tater Tots. *sigh*

Today’s necessity: Homemade Pesto Lasagna.

Crappy picture. Apologies.

Last week I was talking with my sister, who’s trekking in to spend Thanksgiving with me.  I told her about my rather, um, intense need to make the Pesto Lasagna that I’d seen on Extra Virgin – that TV show with Debi Mazur (C can’t stand her, I like their recipes). I started talking about maybe making it for dinner the night my sister’s family arrives. She laughed and said, ‘You do realize that Thanksgiving is…um..still a WEEK AND A HALF AWAY, right? You’re planning meals that far ahead?’

*sigh* No. Just wishing for a way to try out this new recipe…

Luckily, I figured out a way to make pesto lasagna anyway. I invited company over for brunch today!! Yes. I am a genius. *wink*

My FIRST piece

Pesto Lasagna from Extra Virgin

Printable Recipe HERE

Ingredients:

Pesto, recipe below
Besciamella, recipe below
Butter, for baking dish, plus more for topping
1 1/2 (9-ounce) boxes no boil lasagna noodles  **I used a single box of regular lasagna noodles as C doesn’t care for the way the no-boil ones taste. You simply under boil them and then set aside to drain. Use as directed in recipe.
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese **I needed closer to 1 1/4 cup.

Fresh Pesto:
4 cups fresh basil leaves, about 4 ounces
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Sardo or Romano  **I didn’t have this, so I just doubled up my parmesan.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Besciamella:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg **I wanted more than a hint, ended up adding almost 1/2 teaspoon. I just kept tasting & adding more until I liked what it tasted like.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper **I keep hearing about the yuckiness in Kosher Salt. I rarely use it, opting for sea salt instead.

So freakin’ GOOD!

 

How To:
Make your Pesto:
1- Combine the basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil in a mortar and pestle and pound until paste forms **I used the food processor. I am lazy.
2- Add the cheese, salt and pepper and stir until smooth. This is a crucial moment for your pesto, as you need to season with salt and pepper. Keep in mind that Parmigiano and Pecorino are both dry and salty cheeses. You have to taste your sauce a few times in order not to go overboard when you are seasoning it.
3- Transfer to a jar or air tight container, cover the top with olive oil and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Topped with oil for storage

Make your Besciamella:

1- Melt the 1/2 cup butter in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook’s Note: This is an important moment, as you have to slowly toast the flour without burning it. This will help you lose the floury taste. **According to kitchn.com, the adding-the-flour step is only supposed to take a minute or two, as the longer it cooks it will lose it’s ability to thicken. I needed help with this step, because I’ve never made a roux before and wasn’t sure what it was supposed to look like. This link has pictures. *clapping*

2- Warm up the milk and gradually ladle into the pot with the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly while bringing the mixture to a boil. **I didn’t bother getting a ladle dirty.  I slowly poured in the milk from the saucepan. Again, I am lazy and bad at dishes.

3- Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Season the sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk, if too runny, return to the heat and add a pat of butter mixed with an equal amount of all-purpose flour. The most important thing though is: besciamella should not taste floury. If you think your sauce is ready, but you can spot a hint of “flouriness” when you taste it, think again, and keep on cooking it for a few minutes more.

Pesto Joy

Lasagna:

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2- Butter a 13 by 9 by 4 baking dish and add a thin layer of besciamella (bechamel sauce). Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles, and then another thin layer of besciamella. Gently spread about 4 tablespoons pesto across the surface, and then top with about 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Repeat until you finish layering the lasagne. Top with a final layer of noodles and spread a final very thin layer besciamella, pesto, Parmesan cheese and a little butter to help the cheese crisp-up when cooked in the oven.

3- Cook the lasagne for about 30 minutes. Serve dressed with some Parmesan and a drop of extra-virgin olive oil. **We didn’t need the extra oil and it was very oily. I even took a paper towel and dabbed the oil off the top before serving.

THANK GOODNESS it was delicious.

Seriously thigh-expanding good.

Slice o’ joy…this *might* have been my 3rd slice….

I think we all had thirds. Even *J* ate some. It was that good.

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2 thoughts on “The Food Network is evil

  1. I’m not the biggest pesto lover. I think this was my favorite lasagna you have made yet. Can you imagine how good it would be with home made pasta? Proud of all you’ve done baby. I don’t even mind doing all the dishes…..usually.

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