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Tuesday
Apr132010

Individual Lasagna Gratins

I really love the idea of these individual little lasagnas - I think they're fun to serve and you can easily individualize them - for example, leaving out meat in one of them for someone who is a vegetarian.  As I was assembling these, Brian snuck in some pepperoncini and sun-dried tomatoes in one for himself.  You can use any kind of filling - I've made these before with sausage and marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, for a more traditional lasagna taste.  The filling in these, however, is a simple saute of pancetta, leeks and garlic.  And oh, does it smell heavenly as you're cooking it.

I've made these with homemade spinach pasta, which we love.  If you don't want to make your own lasagna noodles, just use regular store bought lasagna.  Just make sure you use the regular kind, which you can boil - the "no boil" lasagna noodles do not work for this (they fall apart if you boil them).  Aside from the pasta, you just make a simple bechamel sauce and saute the filling and then assemble the lasagnas.  It's also a great make ahead dish for a dinner party or just as a pasta course. 

This recipe makes the pasta the star - you use very little filling in each layer.  If you want more filling, just increase the amounts.  Have fun with this recipe - you can do just about anything with it.  I'd love to hear what variations you all try!

 

Individual Lasagna Gratins

 

for a printer friendly recipe click here

serves 4

Ingredients:

for spinach pasta dough:*

  • 1 handful fresh spinach, about 1 cup packed
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (I used a combination of 3/4 cup Italian 00 flour and 1/4 cup semolina flour)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • additional flour for dusting 

*if you don't want to make your own pasta, you can use regular lasagna noodles. Do not use the "no-boil" noodles - they do not boil up correctly in a pot of water  - they kind of disintegrate and will not work for this method.  Use regular lasagna noodles that are meant to be boiled.

for filling:

  • 4 leeks
  • 6 ounces pancetta (or bacon), diced into small cubes
  • large pinch of coarse salt
  • freshly ground peppper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 

for the bechamel: 

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (if using Knorr cubes, cut in half)
  • 2 cups milk (you can use lowfat milk if you like - I used 1%)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese for grating
  • some dried oregano for the topping 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Instructions:

Make the pasta dough:

Steam the spinach til just wilted.  Cool and squeeze out excess water by wrapping in paper towels.  Chop finely and set aside.

In a bowl or on the counter, mound the flour and make a well in the center.  Crack the eggs into the well and, using a fork, blend the eggs.  Add the chopped spinach to the eggs and beat with the fork.  Slowly begin to incorporate the flour.  If you are using part semolina flour, you may want to add a couple of teaspoons of water to make the dough easier to work with. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead, adding more flour if needed.  Incorporate enough flour to make a nice soft dough that doesn't stick to your hands, but is still moist. This may take more flour than one cup (it depends on the quality of your eggs, how moist your spinach is, etc.) I used more than one cup of flour.  Wrap dough in floured plastic and let rest on counter for about 30 minutes.

Make the filling:

Trim root ends off of leeks and trim off dark green leaves.  Leave some of the lighter green part of the leeks. Slice leeks in half, vertically.  Wash if there is dirt inside.  Slice leeks one more time, vertically, to make quarters. Slice thinly horizontally.

In a large saute pan, cook pancetta until slightly crisp.  Add leeks, salt and pepper and saute gently for about 5 minutes, until leeks are soft but not brown.  Add garlic and saute for one minute.  Remove from heat and add chopped parsley. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Make the bechamel sauce:

In a medium heavy pot, melt the butter.  Add the flour and with a whisk, stir the mixture for a couple of minutes, letting the flour cook but not burn.  Add the chicken bouillon cube and whisk.  Slowly add the milk and stir with the whisk. Keep adding some milk, whisk, and add more milk until all the milk has been used. Add the salt and pepper and ground nutmeg and cook for a few minutes, gently, until bechamel is thick. Transfer to a heat proof bowl and allow to cool, stirring every once in a while. 

Make the pasta sheets:

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a simmer.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. ( You want to end up with three foot-long pasta sheets for each gratin dish.) With pasta rollers, roll out dough starting at widest setting, #1.  Dust dough with flour to prevent sticking, fold in half and insert into widest setting again.  Repeat a few times.  The dough will be very soft now.  Adjust rollers to #2 and insert dough again.  Do not fold this time.  Dust with dough if pasta is sticky and keep adjusting rollers until you get to setting #5.  After dough goes through setting #5, measure pasta sheet.  It should measure at least 30 inches.  If it doesn't, insert into #5 again and hold pasta a little taught, letting it stretch as it goes through rollers.  You should have a 30 inch sheet of pasta.  Cut into three 10-inch pieces. (When pasta sheets cook, they will end up being about a foot long). Set on clean counter.  Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

Place a colander or strainer into a medium size heat proof bowl.  Place next to stove.  Have a handled strainer or spider ready.  Lay a clean towel on counter. Have 3 more clean towels ready. 

Bring the pot of water up to a boil.  Lower three sheets of pasta slowly into the water.  Boil gently for 60 seconds.  With the strainer, gently lift all three sheets and place into the colander.  Take bowl to sink and add cold water, gently swishing the pasta sheets with your hand.  Let pasta sit in cold water for a few seconds and then lift the colander out and dump out the water.  Pasta sheets should be cool enough to handle now.  Lay them gently, spreading them out, onto the clean towel.

Repeat this process three more times, with remaining pasta noodles.  Lay another clean towel right on top of the first layer of pasta noodles and and lay the next set of pasta noodles right on top.  Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

 

Assemble lasagnas:

Spray 4 small gratin dishes with nonstick cooking spray.  Lay one pasta sheet in each dish, allowing half to drape over.  Place a spoonful of bechamel sauce on each pasta sheet and spread with a spatula. Sprinkle a small amount of the pancetta leek topping over bechamel.  Grate some cheese on top.  Fold pasta sheet over the filling to create another layer of pasta.  You may have to fold the sheet again - this is okay.  Repeat with remaining pasta sheets and filling until you have made three layers of filling in each gratin dish.  Fold remaining pasta sheet over the top of each dish and spread the remainder of the bechamel sauce on top. Grate some cheese on top of each gratin and sprinkle with some oregano.  Place dishes on a baking sheet and cover the whole thing tightly with foil (I use Reynold's Nonstick Foil - it works perfectly for lasagna, so the cheese doesn't stick).  

Bake lasagnas for 45 minutes at 350.  Remove foil, raise oven temp to 400 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes until tops are just golden brown.   

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Reader Comments (20)

mmm looks yummy!

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCherine

How adorable are these. I made a caprese lasagna last year that reminded me of this, using spinach and sun dried tomatoes for colors. Pancetta and leeks are a good combination.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela@Spinachtiger

Elaine
I love the site. Have tried many things. Hooked on the Aritsan bread. It isn't rising like I think but I will try bread flour next. It is still yummy and easy. Hubby loves it! Have you find Italian 00 flour in the Lansing area? Thanks

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

ohh my goodness! these look simply amazing! i've had a pasta maker for 2.5 years and still haven't used it :-( I need to fix that cause this really looks fabulous!

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterashley

Gorgeous lasagnas! We usually make individual servings because I am a vegetarian and my husband is not. I can't wait to try your version here.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

From The Italian Dish:

Suzanne: For the Artisan Bread, I make it almost every day now! I use half regular flour and half bread flour and it rises really great. I have never found Italian 00 flour in Lansing - I order a case of it online about once or twice a year and always have some. (I store the extra in my freezer).

April 13, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I love that these are made in individual portions - perfect for an elegant dinner!

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChocolate Shavings

So yummy! I love the individual servings.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterakmoni

Wow, you always make everything look so delish. I have a major weakness for Italian food, especially pasta. Homemade pasta has been on my to-do list forever. You are motivating me to bump it up the list.
Love your blog, your photos!

Jean
http://lemonsandanchovies.wordpress.com/

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Looks like it involves a lot of work here, but the dish looks like its worth it. I think I'm gonna try this with my kids this weekend, they love lasagna and I', quite positive that they'll find this interesting. Though I think it'll be better if you could sort of have a dish that is the same shape of the pasta or vice versa, so that everything could get soaked up with the sauce.

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLasagna Recipe

This looks so very fantastic. Nothing like fresh pasta!

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle

Everything you make is not only so appealing to the eyes, but you also just know it 's going to taste so darn fabulous!!!

April 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarie

What a lovely recipe! I'd like to make these individual lasagnas for an upcoming dinner party. Can you lend some advice about which parts can be done in advance? It sure would be nice if I could prep and refrigerate the individual dishes and then just bake them off when I'm ready. Do you think that would work?

April 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

From The Italian Dish:

Kristina:

Yes, you can absolutely make these up before and refrigerate. When it's time to bake them, just bring them to room temperature and then bake. You can even make them up the day before.

April 22, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Hey! I have always thought your photos were incredibly beautiful. Kelly introduced me to your site last summer when I started working for her. I love that you include so many in-process shots!

I have had a similar recipe bookmarked for SOO long. I love making pasta, and the thought of making spinach pasta just sounded awesome. Thanks for reminding me about it!

April 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaitlin

ciao!!! How are you? The pasta looks fantastic and I love how you 'fold' it together into the little dishes. Your family is lucky they eat so well;)))).

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjanelle

These look delicious. I can't wait to try the spinach pasta!

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

These look amazing. But since I am sure that I won't have the time or patience for these, I'll gladly accept a dinner invite next time you're making them ;) I'll bring good wine. Promise,

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobin @ My Melange

These look amazing! I can't wait to try them for my family when I'm back home :) Just curious: where do you get all these fantastic recipes?

June 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina*

From The Italian Dish:

Christina: If I do not specify where I got the recipe from, then it is one that I have developed myself.

June 22, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

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