How to Make Lasagna from Scratch
There's a lot of love that goes into making homemade lasagna—especially this 24-layered masterpiece from Danielle Glantz, chef and owner of Pastaio Via Corta, a pasta and provisions shop in Gloucester, Massachusetts. There, Glantz makes pasta by the pound, from nests of spaghetti alla chitarra to the sprawling sheets of sfoglia that give this lasagna its structure. While at first glance her lasagna seems like standard fare, there are delicious surprises hiding beneath its cheesy, golden brown surface.
"Growing up, I didn't really like lasagna," says Glantz. "It was always this giant thing with lots of meat and heaping amounts of ricotta." Granted, her reimagined lasagna remains a giant thing, but Glantz curated each ingredient and layered every component with intention to create a Northern Italian version that's decadent and yet lighter than the sum of its parts—a creamy, onion-infused béchamel, a hearty ragù of dried and fresh mushrooms, and salty slices of prosciutto cotto.
"I wanted to make a lasagna that highlighted the best ingredients I could find," Glantz says. For the sfoglia, she uses organically grown, stone-milled flour and eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Other ingredients she imports from small farms and purveyors in Italy (see below). "If you take the time to research and source your food, you will always be rewarded in flavor," Glantz says.
RELATED: How to Make Sfoglia
While you're welcome to use store-bought lasagna sheets if shortcuts are more your speed this season, the time spent making this pasta by hand is an investment that will pay delicious dividends. "The pasta sheets are like silk—it's something special to share with the people you care about most," Glantz says. "I suggest spacing out the recipe over a couple days. Make the ragù, then make the béchamel, and the morning of, make the pasta. Trust me—you'll never want to use boxed pasta sheets again."
On a wooden surface, shape flour into a mound with a well in the center. Beat eggs using a fork, gradually incorporating flour until combined.
Using the palms of your hands, knead dough until flour is absorbed, pushing and pulling until dough is soft and smooth, about 10 minutes.
Using a long, straight rolling pin, roll dough away from you, turning dough a quarter turn between rolls, until dough is 15 inches in diameter.
Hang and Roll Dough
With half of dough hanging off of work surface, roll dough on work surface away from your body to the left, middle, and right.
Turn and Re-roll Dough
Roll dough loosely onto rolling pin. Rotate dough a quarter turn; unroll and roll again. Repeat until dough forms a 28- x 25-inch rectangle.
After dough rests, use a sharp knife to cut dough into 12 (about 14- x 4-inch) sheets. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
While this lasagna can be made using items available at any grocery store, Glantz recomends using best-quality ingredients from local and Italian farmers and purveyors. Find these and more at gustiamo.com and other specialty and online retailers.
Unlike cured prosciutto, prosciutto cotto is gently cooked. It's more akin to high-quality deli ham.
Grown and stone-ground on the island of Sicily, this heirloom soft wheat flour makes a flavorful substitution for regular 00 flour.
Vacche Rosse Parmigiano-Reggiano
Milk from rare Italian red cattle gives this cheese a higher butterfat ratio than standard Parm.
Trapani Sea Salt
Harvested from the Mediterranean Sea and processed using windmills, this fine sea salt adds a unique salinity to the béchamel.