I don’t know about you, but I love basil pesto and cooking with basil which is always growing in my herb garden. This is a sensational Ligurian green lasagne where basil is the star. A perfect meal for a warm summer’s day or just when you want something different from the wonderful traditional lasagne. The fragrant basil pesto used here is just glorious and epitomises the Mediterranean to me. This will serve 6.
300g ’00’ pasta flour, plus extra to dust
Fine semolina, to dust
75g grated mozzarella
4 cups basil leaves, plus extra, to garnish
2 garlic cloves
80g pine nuts
2 lemons, zested, juiced
60ml olive oil
200g parmesan, finely grated
80g butter, chopped
75g plain flour
1 litre milk
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
115g grated provolone
Place flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add eggs, then, using your hands, draw in flour to combine with eggs and form a dough. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 6 minutes or until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Set your pasta machine at its widest setting, then feed through one portion. Continue to feed pasta through the widest setting 4 times, folding pasta and dusting with extra flour in between feeds. Reduce the setting, then fold, dust and feed pasta through again. Continue feeding, reducing the machine setting after each feed, until pasta is 3 mm-thick. Cut pasta sheet into 24 cm-long pieces. Repeat with second portion of dough. Layer pasta sheets on an oven tray dusted with semolina, sprinkling semolina between each sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
To make pesto, place basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper and pulse until roughly chopped. With the motor running, gradually pour in oil and blend until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir through parmesan. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
To make Béchamel sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until flour is cooked. Slowly add milk in a steady stream, whisking continuously, to prevent lumps. Cook, stirring, for a further 5 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat and stir through nutmeg, pepper and provolone.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Spoon a little of the Béchamel over the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish. Layer with sheets of pasta, a little more Béchamel and some of the pesto. Continue to layer, finishing with a layer of pasta topped with remaining Béchamel sauce. Sprinkle over mozzarella. Cover with lightly greased foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve scattered with extra basil leaves.
Serve with a aromatic and crisp Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.