Lasagne Alla Portofino (Pesto Lasagne)
A true crowd-pleasing dish that's easy to make and assemble. This version is packed with spinach and basil along with a velvety béchamel sauce and plenty of mozzarella cheese, making this truly an indulgent and delicious dish.
Makes: 1 large lasagne, serves 8
Cooking Time: 3 hours
Skill Level: Easy
- 3 eggs
- 300g of tipo 00 flour, sifted
- 10 sheets of pre-made fresh lasagne sheets
- 100g of butter
- 100g plain flour
- 4 cups (1 litre) of milk
- 2 bay leaves, optional
- 1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, optional
- Generous pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 bunch of basil, leaves picked and stalks removed
- 280g or 1 bag of ‘serves 4’ spinach
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- ½ cup of parmigiano reggiano, pecorino or grana padano cheese
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts
- ½ cup of olive oil, plus extra to thin out the sauce
- Generous pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bag of mozzarella cheese
- 2 x 450g mozzarella balls, cut into thin round slices
- If you’re making lasagne sheets from scratch, start by making a well in the centre of your flour, add the eggs and begin whisking the eggs with a fork, slowly incorporating the flour into the eggs. Once the egg mixture is no longer liquid, use your hands to incorporate the rest of the remaining flour until you have a shaggy ball of dough. Cover with cling wrap and place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest.
- Meanwhile, prepare your pesto by boiling a pot of salted water and blanching your basil and spinach for 2 minutes and then refreshing in a bowl of ice water. This process retains the green colour of the leaves. Drain in a colander and use your hands to squeeze any excess water out. You should be left with a small ball of leaves. Place the leaves and the rest of the pesto ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy. Add more olive oil as necessary to create a sauce-like consistency. Set aside.
- For the bechamel, melt the butter into a pot and then add the flour stirring until you get a doughy mixture in the pot.
- Whisk in the milk and bring to the boil. Add the nutmeg and stir continuously until it begins to thicken and reduce the temperature to low.
- Remove your pasta ball from the fridge and begin cutting into smaller sections (I cut mine into ⅛ sections), flattening with a rolling pin, dusting with flour and rolling through your pasta machine on your widest (normally 1) setting. Laminate your dough by folding the dough into thirds, flatten slightly with a rolling pin and then roll it through your pasta machine again but flipping the dough 90 degrees so it gets rolled on its other edge. Repeat this process 1 more time.
- Begin rolling out the dough through the machine once on each setting (1-8), dusting with flour a little each time to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll out until you get a thin long sheet and then use a knife to cut into 3-4 pieces, to cover and fit the length of your lasagne dish. Repeat for the remaining dough.
- Boil a pot of salted water and once boiling, cook each lasagna sheet 1 at a time for about 30 seconds and immediately transfer into a bowl of ice water. Remove and transfer to a tray to rest, lined with baking paper in between each layer of lasagna sheets to prevent the sheets from sticking to one another.
- To assemble the lasagne, get a large baking dish (I’ve used a 30cm x 20cm rectangle baking dish) and grease the bottom and sides with some olive oil.
- Begin by placing a ladle of the bechamel to the bottom of the pan. Then cover with a layer of lasagna sheets, a ladle of the bechamel and pesto sauce and then a layer of mozzarella slices. Repeat until you have no ingredients left.
- For the top layer I like to finish with a layer of lasagna sheets, a bit of bechamel and then a full layer of mozzarella slices, so the top layer becomes gooey, golden and crunchy once it’s baked.
- Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celsius for at least 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes at 220 degrees or until the top has fully melted and is golden.
- Remove from the oven allowing it to rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting into and serving.