Italian cuisine: Pistachio pesto lasagna
- WTI Magazine #137 Mar 20, 2021
Lasagne, one of the most popular Italian dishes, has a long and interesting history and traces its origin to the ancient Greeks. Lasagne with pistachios pesto is a delicious vegetarian dish, something to try!
Bronte Pistachios, from a small village in Sicily, are smaller then other pistachios but tastier and with a brilliant emerald color! Pistachio, a member of the cashew family, is a small tree originally from Central Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean area. It is an ancient type of nut rich in many nutrients such as protein, good fat, vitamins and fiber.
To speed up the preparation I usually buy the pesto (the best one is from Pisti’), but I make the pasta. It is easy, fast and the taste is better.
LASAGNE AL PESTO DI PISTACCHI (PISTACHIO PESTO LASAGNA)
Total preparation time: 1 ½ hours Cooking time: 30-35 minutes Servings: 4
300 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour or Italian flour grade 00
3 medium eggs
1 liter (1 quart) whole milk
100 g (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1 pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
200 (7 oz) pistachio pesto
Grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 tablespoons pistachio granola to garnish
1. Prepare the pasta. Place the flour in a volcano-shaped pile on a work surface (wood is the traditional material) making sure that the “crater” provides a large enough well in the center to receive the eggs. Crack the eggs into the well. Beat the eggs with a fork for 1-2 minutes, then gradually blend the flour into the eggs, starting from the inner wall of the well and continuing until all the flour and the eggs are completely combined. You have to add flour until the dough is no longer sticky (you may have to use extra flour depending on the absorption characteristics of the flour and on the temperature of the room). Knead the dough for about 15 minutes to form a smooth and elastic ball. This procedure helps develop the gluten in the flour, so your pasta will be springy and al dente when it is cooked.
Place the dough in a clean cotton dish towel or plastic wrap to rest for about 20 minutes at room temperature. Divide your pasta in 4 equal parts and roll out one part at a time (keeping the rest in the dish towel until ready to work).
ROLLING OUT BY HAND. To roll out your pasta you need a wooden pin – mattarello. Dust each piece lightly with flour and roll out to the desired thickness; you should be able to see your hand through it. Work quickly because the pasta dries much quicker than you might think.
ROLLING OUT BY MACHINE. A hand-cranked pasta machine is the best to use. Kids especially love this part. Start out using the widest setting. Run the pasta through for about 6-7 times until the dough is smooth. If the sheet tears dust it with flour. Continue to run each sheet through the machine, reducing the thickness a notch at a time, until you reach the desired thickness (notch 8 out of 10), you have to see your hand through it. Cut the pasta into rectangular sheets (20x10 cm; 8x4 inch)
Prepare the besciamella. In a medium saucepan mix the milk and the flour well with a whisk until smooth. This will prevent any lumps from forming. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat as soon as the mixture reaches a slow boil and then continue to cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly to the right thickness (smooth and creamy). Stir constantly to ensure that it doesn’t stick or burn. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let it cool and combine the pistachios pesto well.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F) and set oven rack to the middle positionIn an 11-cup baking pan (23 x 18 cm; approx. 9 x 7 inch), spread a paper-thin layer of the besciamella mix. Arrange pasta sheets side by side, covering the besciamella in the bottom of the baking pan. Spread some of the besciamella evenly on top of the pasta followed by another layer of pasta. Repeat this process until you have a total of three layers of pasta and finish with the remaining besciamella. Bake for about 30 minutes, until top is brown and bubbly (or follow the suggested baking time on the lasagne package). Let it rest at room temperature for about 8-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle some Parmesan and pistachios granola on top and serve.
Note: If you use dry lasagne pasta, cook in boiling water for a few minutes according to the instructions on the package.