I have made variations on this recipe for years, most recently for my own birthday potluck the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My friend Mary, who knows a thing or two about good food, said she’d like to know how to make it. This isn’t a recipe in the strict sense, because I can’t be bothered to measure, but… it’ll get you there. In any case, quantities depend on how many people you want to cook for.
- lasagne noodles
- ricotta cheese
- fresh mozzarella Â (optional)
- good parmesan
- pesto and/or fresh basil
- spinach (fresh or frozen) and/or
- broccoliÂ and/or
- pine nuts
- bechamel sauce
Pre-cook whatever vegetables you’re using: boil or sautee the spinach, slice the zucchini into rounds and sautee in olive oil with a bit of garlic, steam the broccoli and cut small (or blend in with the ricotta mixture for a smoother texture).
Pre-cook the noodles, with a tbsp of olive oil in the water so they don’t stick together.
Blend the ricotta with 1-3 eggs, pesto and/or fresh basil, spinach (if you’re using it), salt and pepper to taste, a bit of nutmeg.
Layer the lasagne: ricotta mixture, noodles, veggies, mozzarella (if using) repeat.
Top with noodles, bechamel, parmesan, and pine nuts.
Bake at 350 F for about 40 mins, or until top is browning and cheese is bubbling up from below.
I’ve never seen a dish quite like this in Italy – there is an Italian green lasagne, but it tends to be simpler. Americans like it a lot, though!
This one includes tomatoes and probably green chilis, and was served on a bun with funky pink and green candied fruit.
- fry onions in butter until soft (or brown, if you like)
- fry tomatoes too, if you’re using them
- add eggs lightly beaten with a little milk
- add green chilis (chopped into small rounds) and fresh cilantro/coriander
- flip to cook the other side
- when cooked, fold in half and serve alongside bun as shown above or (better) fold into quarters and serve ON bun. Bun should be toasted in the same pan so it gets nice and greasy.
- Have sweet, milky tea with it.
Above omelette courtesy of Mussoorie’s Tip Top Tea Shop at Char Dukan:
In case you’re wondering: cheese noodles is Ramen or Wai Wai noodles with cheese stirred in so it melts while the broth is good and hot.
This is a good way to use old, dry bread. The recipe is more or less one that I scribbled down from a magazine in a waiting room.
- Cut/break 1/2 kilo of dry bread into smallish dice
- Soak it overnight (in the fridge) in about 1 liter of milk; I also add a few tablespoons of amaretto or other liqueur
- Mix two eggs with 50 gm melted butter, 200 gm sugar, and 50 gm cocoa powder (unsweetened is fine)
- Add a grating of lemon peel, raisins, pine nuts or other nuts. I also tend to toss in any other dried fruit I have around, e.g. figs.
- Mix in the soaked bread; I use an electric mixer, which also helps pulverize the bread into smaller pieces, but the batter will not be smooth in any case
- Bake at 175 C / 350 F for about an hour Â It’s okay if it comes out a bit puddingy. It tastes best when warm, and reheats well in the microwave.
^ These are all Indian cookbooks that I own and use.
To make the chicken broth for the scripelle, Enrico had boiled two chicken thighs. Which meant I had lots of cooked chicken, plus leftover white rice from several previous meals (I always manage to overestimate how much rice everyone will eat). So Saturday night I made Moghul Shredded Chicken Curry, from Royal Indian Cookery. The recipe calls for steamed chicken breasts, but boiled thighs worked just as well. I pulled all the meat off the bones and shredded it, then:
- fry 1 tbps cumin seeds in ghee or oil for 1 min
- add one chopped onion, cook til soft
- grind into paste 2 cloves garlic and a 1-inch cube of fresh ginger (actually, I used the food processor to chop very fine, not quite the same as paste…)
- add to the pot with cayenne pepper and 1 tsp turmeric
- in a separate pan, fry a finely chopped small onion in oil til brown
- food-process this, along with 1 cup cashews, 1/4 cup blanched almonds, 2/3 cups dried coconut, into a fine-ish crumble
- add to main pot, stir for a few minutes, add about 1/3 cup water, cook low for 5 minutes
- add 1/4 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup raisins (previously soaked in water to soften), and salt, cook some more
- add chicken, cook another 10 minutes or so
The recipe calls for a garnish and a final two tbsps of cream, but I didn’t bother – with the yogurt, it was plenty creamy. Along with this we had the leftover rice (I bought a microwave this year mostly to heat pasta and rice in) and a simple dish of green beans and peas (clearing odds and ends from the freezer!) with coriander, another Madhur Jaffrey recipe. And lots of chutneys.
Today’s lunch was panzanella, another good thing to eat while tomatoes are in season. I more or less follow the recipe from The New Basics Cookbook, except that I didn’t have any of the herbs. Basically, you make home-made croutons by frying chunks of dry, old bread.
…which is a great way to use up dry, old bread, BTW. We always end up with a lot, partly because we overbuy and undereat, and Italian fresh bread goes stale very quickly, sometimes within the day. Whatever I can’t use up making croutons, or bread cake (recipe another day), or crumbs, goes to the horses – horses love dry bread.
Where was I? Bread: chop into 1-inch cubes (roughly), sauté in butter and olive oil with minced garlic, fresh herbs if you have them. Pepper. Remove from pan into a large bowl, toss with fresh-ground cheese. The recipe says parmigiano, my grater currently contains odds and ends of sharp aged cheeses, I don’t even know what all.
Then chop ripe tomatoes, thinly slice red onions, toss with oil, red vinegar, salt, and pepper. When ready to eat, add the croutons.