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spinach and ricotta lasagne

For the sauce:
1½ pints (850 ml) milk
2 oz (50 g) butter
2 oz (50 g) plain flour
1 bay leaf
2½ oz (60 g) Parmesan
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the lasagne:
1 lb 5 oz (600 g) young leaf spinach
8 oz (225 g) ricotta
12 fresh lasagne sheets (weighing about 9 oz/250 g)
2 oz (50 g) pine nuts
knob of butter
¼ whole nutmeg, grated
7 oz (200 g) Gorgonzola, Shropshire Blue or Cashel Blue cheese, crumbled
7 oz (200 g) Mozarella, coarsely grated
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Make the sauce, which can be done using the all-in-one method. This means placing the milk, butter, flour and bay leaf together in a saucepan, giving it a good seasoning, then, over a medium heat, whisking the whole lot together continually until it comes to simmering point and has thickened. Now turn the heat down to its lowest possible setting and allow the sauce to cook gently for 5 minutes. After that, stir in 2 oz (50 g) of the Parmesan, then remove it from the heat, discard the bay leaf and place some clingfilm over the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Trim the spinach, and wash the leaves thoroughly in 2 or 3 changes of cold water and shake them dry. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then pile the spinach leaves in on top, sprinkling them with a little salt as you go. Place the pan over a medium heat, put a lid on and cook the spinach for about 2 minutes, turning the leaves over halfway through. After that, the leaves will have collapsed down and become tender.

Drain the spinach in a colander and, when it's cool enough to handle, squeeze it in your hands to get rid of every last drop of liquid. Chop it finely, then put it in a bowl, add the ricotta, then approximately 5 fl oz (150 ml) of the sauce. Give it a good seasoning of salt and pepper and add the grated nutmeg. Then mix everything together really thoroughly and, finally, fold in the crumbled Gorgonzola.

Place a small frying pan over a medium heat, add the pine nuts and dry-fry them for about 1 minute, tossing them around to get them nicely toasted but being careful that they don't burn. Then remove the pan from the heat and assemble the lasagne. To do this, spread a quarter of the sauce into the bottom of the dish and, on top of that, a third of the spinach mixture, followed by a scattering of toasted pine nuts. Now place sheets of pasta on top of this – you may need to tear some of them in half with your hands to make them fit. Now repeat the whole process, this time adding a third of the grated Mozzarella along with the pine nuts, then the lasagne sheets. Repeat again, finishing with a layer of pasta, the rest of the sauce and the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella. When you are ready to cook the lasagne, place it on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbling. Then remove it from the oven and let it settle for about 10 minutes before serving.

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posted by ramtops on 29 Jul 07 - 11715 views

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