Sunday lasagna, with ragù and ricotta
This is not the traditional Bolognese style lasagna, as it doesn’t have béchamel sauce (substituted with ricotta) and the ragù has more tomato compared to the traditional Bolognese one. The result? A lighter version, but still very appreciated by young and old.
Difficulty
Medium
Serves
6/8 people
Preparation time
1 hour
Variety
Filled pasta
Ageing
Grana Padano Riserva
Francesca D'Orazio
Ingredients
For pasta
300-400 g of ready-made lasagna sheets
or homemade following the instructions below

For the ragù
400 g of minced beef 
1 L tomato puree
2 tablespoons of chopped celery, carrot, onion
1/2 glass of white wine
120 g Grana Padano Riserva PDO, grated
400 g of cow's milk ricotta cheese
200 g of smoked scamorza cheese (smoked mozzarella), chopped 
extra virgin olive oil
butter
salt
 
Preparation
Prepare the ragù: in a pan, sauté the chopped celery, carrot, onion with 2 tablespoons of oil, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons of water so that the vegetables wilt and cook without burning. Add the meat, brown it, stirring with a wooden spoon to crumble it. Pour the wine and let it evaporate over high heat.
Add the tomato puree, cook until the sauce has thickened, but not too much. It will take about 20 minutes (the time may vary depending on the pot, the density of the tomato puree and the heat).
Heat the oven to 200°C.
Butter a baking dish (40x20 cm).
Start with one pasta sheet, then evenly spread ragù, sprinkle grated Grana Padano, the ricotta, here and there, and the scamorza cheese. Continue layering the pasta, ragù, Grana Padano, ricotta and scamorza cheese, until there are at least 5 layers. The final layer will be with the pasta, some melted butter brushed on the pastry and a sprinkle of Grana Padano.
Cover with kitchen aluminum. Bake and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove the sheet and cook au gratin for 5-8 minutes.
How to make HOMEMADE PASTA – “pasta fatta in casa”
Fresh egg pasta dough is made with eggs and flour, but different regions in Italy and different cooks have their own variations – some use egg yolks alone, some add olive oil, others use various combinations of flour.
Adding durum flour (substitute 1/4 of the plain flour with it) will give more texture and body to the pasta.

Ingredients 
  • 4 eggs
  • 400 - 420 g all-purpose flour

By hand
Place the flour in a mound in the middle of a floured work surface, keeping some on the side. (Remember, pasta should not be made on a cold surface. Use wood or your counter if it is not a marble one)
Make a well in the centre and place eggs, any other liquid called for your recipe, such as olive oil or any seasoning. Using a fork, gradually blend as much flour into the eggs as they can absorb, and as needed to gather the dough into a ball. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if the dough gets sticky.
Place the dough under inverted bowl and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

If necessary, the dough can be prepared the day before and refrigerated, well wrapped in plastic foil.

Make pasta in the food processor
Combine the ingredient in the food processor dough, process the dough until it has the shape of a ball, if the dough come out too soft, knead it, adding more flour.

If you are preparing pasta for the lasagna, roll out the dough thinly, cut it into strips of the same size as the pan of your choice. Cook in boiling salted water. Drain and transfer to a bowl with ice-cold salted water. Drain and arrange the sheets on a clean tea towel.
 
Entertaining at home, everyone brings something
If we want to entertain at home but we prefer to divide the tasks between relatives and friends we can organise what in America is called "potluck": everyone arrives bringing something, e.g. the ready dishes, drinks, table accessories.

Here are some guidelines
  • First of all, decide the day, and check your kitchen equipment. 
  • Plan well so that you can synchronise the timing: what needs re-heating (plan also cold dishes on your list), assembling or garnishing.
  • Make a guests list and invite them so they can save the date on their agenda; ask whether they want to collaborate.
  • The host usually prepares the "main course", or at least those that are difficult to transport, or what needs last minute cooking, such as risotto. The host will also provide bread, water, flower arrangement and decorations.
  • At this point, what you need to do is to assign yours guests’ “homework”, considering the skills of each cook. Be always ready to change the menu.
  • Who doesn’t feel like cooking, will bring the wine (with precise indications, to avoid pairing mistakes), flowers or chocolates, after dinner drinks, or a good selection of herbal teas.
  • A good thing: write down the menu on nice cards (by hand, if you like), highlighting for each dish its “author".

 
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