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Lasagnette

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Lasagne represents a lot of effort on the part of the cook, so guests are always impressed by it. These little lasagne (lasagnette, in Italian) are baked free-form; you can assemble them on a baking sheet rather than in a straight-sided casserole (although that works, too). The ricotta filling with ham and mozzarella is from Sorrento, near Naples; if you want to go all out, make your own ricotta.

NotesOnce you’ve made this lasagne my way, you can make it your own by adding components you like: maybe sautéed mushrooms or cooked spinach, goat cheese, crumbled sausage, or sliced Fontina. In winter, I use canned tomatoes for the sauce but enhance it with dried porcini.

Serves4

Cooking Methodbaking, sauteeing

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecheesy, meaty, savory

Type of Dishbaked pasta, fresh pasta, pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2½ pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and pureed
  • 1 fresh basil sprig
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Baking soda
  • 2 cups (or a 15-ounce container) ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 ounces baked ham, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ pound fresh egg pasta in sheets
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic and sauté until it is golden. Add the tomatoes, basil, and salt to taste and simmer until reduced to 2 cups. If the sauce tastes too tart, add a pinch of baking soda and simmer for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and remove the basil sprig and garlic clove.

  3. Make the filling: In a bowl, stir to combine the ricotta, egg yolks, ham, mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Cut the pasta sheets into 4½-to 5-inch squares. You will need 16 squares. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, add the pasta squares and cook until about half done, about 1 minute, then use tongs or a skimmer to transfer the sheets to ice water to cool quickly. Lift the sheets out of the ice water and place them on clean dish towels.

  5. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet or large baking dish. Put ½ cup of the tomato sauce at one end of the baking sheet and spread it into the shape of a pasta square. Top the sauce with 1 pasta square, spread a scant 3 tablespoons filling evenly on the pasta, then continue making layers of pasta and filling until you have 8 layers of pasta alternating with 7 layers of filling. Spoon ½ cup of the tomato sauce on top of the last pasta layer, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmesan and 1 teaspoon chopped parsley over the top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 2 identical stacks.

  6. Bake until bubbling and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut each lasagne in half to make a total of 4 lasagnette. Serve immediately.

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Ugh. Just ugh. Another mess from Chiarello. Baked ham in an italian dish? Baking soda in the pasta. Send Hazan to the rescue... please!

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