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.
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*
Pesto Lasagna from Extra Virgin
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think we all had thirds. Even *J* ate some. It was that good.