Inspired by DaVinci(R) Wine's popular Storyteller Experience, this dish brings the authentic flavors of Tuscan food and wine right to your dinner table. In its third year, the Storyteller Experience has sent 12 creative individuals to the picturesque vineyards of Tuscany to experience the people and place behind the 50-year-old wine cooperative that produces the wines.
Culinary Arts Storyteller and food blogger Karista Bennett, of Karista's Kitchen, created this lasagna after tasting the distinct flavor at a Florence restaurant during the Storyteller Experience. Bennett was delightfully surprised at how this version differed from lasagna traditionally enjoyed back home. Featuring buttery lasagna pasta sheets with rich bechamel, parmesan, pecorino and Bolognese sauce, or as they call it in Tuscany - sugo.
Perfect for gathering around the table with loved ones, this recipe pairs nicely with a glass of DaVinci Chianti or Chianti Riserva. For authentic Italian recipes, wine pairing ideas, and to see all of the Storytellers' creations, visit www.Facebook.com/DaVinciWine.
Tuscan Lasagna al Forno
For the Sugo:
3/4 - 1 lb ground beef or ground Italian sausage
1 red onion, diced
1 carrot, small diced
1 rib of celery, small diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup DaVinci Chianti
2-3 cups tomato sauce
Pinch dried oregano
Pinch of allspice or pumpkin pie spice
Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy bottom skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium high heat and saute the onion, carrot and celery until nicely golden brown, almost caramelized. Add the ground meat and garlic to the soffrito (diced veggies) and cook until done, breaking up any big pieces. The meat should be small and somewhat minced.
Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the wine, scraping up the bits of good stuff (fond) on the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano and allspice or pumpkin pie spice and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Put the skillet back on the heat and bring to a low simmer. Let the sauce simmer while you prepare the bechamel.
Bechamel or White Ragu:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups warm whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Then slowly whisk in the warm milk.
Continue whisking until your milk comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Turn the heat down to prevent burning the sauce and continue whisking until the sauce thickens.
Stir in the pinch of fresh grated nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
You will want this bechamel (white ragu) thicker than a bechamel that you might toss with pasta. So if it feels heavy or thick that's OK. It's perfect for the lasagna.
For the Lasagna:
Fresh lasagna sheets, cooked - (enough to fill a 9x13 baking dish)
3-4 cups sugo
3-4 cups bechamel
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shaved pecorino Toscano
Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
Ladle a little sugo in the bottom of the baking dish and line with pasta sheets. Ladle the pasta sheets with bechamel, sprinkle of parmesan and pecorino. Continue alternating the bechamel and sugo until you've created 5-6 layers or used all your pasta sheets. Be sure to save a cup of sugo for the top of the lasagna.
Sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the sides are bubbly.
Raise the heat to 400 F. Remove the foil and cook the lasagna until the top is toasty and cheese is golden brown, another 10 minutes or so. You may wish to put it under the broiler for extra color.
Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This will allow the bechamel and cheese to firm for slicing.
Serve with a side of extra sugo and grated Parmesan if desired.