19 March 2011

Broccoli Rabe & Salsiccia Lasagna


Broccoli rabe is called cime di rapa or broccoletti in Italian. It is most represented by the Puglian region of Italy and best known with their local pasta dish orecchiette con le cime di rapa.  I have a longstanding dislike of bitter vegetables but this one threw me off.  It is actually not that bitter, just a very slight trace that sometimes leaves you in wonder if the acridity was actually there.


Curiously, both my kids love this pasta too so it is always present on our table.  I cook it more often now because you can already buy the fresh broccoli rabe that are trimmed, washed & ready to be cooked packs from the supermarket as opposed to the ones that have yet to be trimmed from the hard stems & big leaves.



And my husband went home the other day from the vegetable stand we frequent, laden with a couple of kilos of broccoli rabe. Happiness.  Untrimmed & unwashed.  No comment.


With the two kilos, I ended up with a big stash of cooked vegetables even after I prepared the orecchiette pasta for dinner.  I froze the excess and I left some to sample another pasta dish we haven't tried before.  Lasagna with broccoli rabe & salsiccia (sausage).   The combination is not uncommon in Italy but I have not encountered it yet cooked with lasagna.   It entails more work & time than the usual orecchiette pasta but would be a welcome change from time to time.



Broccoli Rabe & Salsiccia Lasagna

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 salted anchovy fillets 
  • 500 grams broccoli rabe, chopped to small pieces 
  • 2 salsicce (sausages), taken out from the casings & crumbled 
  • butter 
  • 400 ml. bechamel sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1-1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated 
  • 5 - 6 lasagna noodles, follow instructions on how to cook them
Directions:
  1. Sautè the garlic & chili in a pan with extra virgin olive oil.  When the garlic start to color, add the anchovies.  When the anchovies melt, add the broccoli rabe.  Cook for about 20 minutes on medium fire.  Toss the vegetables frequently.  Do not add salt because the anchovies are already salty.  Throw away the garlic.  Set aside. 
  2. In another non-stick pan, cook the crumbled salsicce (sausages) until toasted well.  There's no need to cook them in oil because the oil of the sausages will be more than enough.  Set the sausages aside.
  3. Rub the baking pan with oil or butter.  Cover the pan with a thin layer of bechamel sauce then sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano. 
  4. Layer the ingredients following this order:  lasagna noodle, bechamel, parmigiano reggiano, broccoli rabe, & sausage.  Repeat until you reach the last lasagna noodle.  
  5. After the last lasagna noodle,  spread a thin layer of bechamel, sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano & drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or put little knobs of butter on each corner and at the center.  
  6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. 

Bechamel Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 80 g. butter
  • 80 g. flour
  • 750 ml. milk
  • nutmeg, grate at the moment
  • salt 
Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  
  2. Stir in the flour with a small whisk until the roux is thick.
  3. Add the milk and keep on whisking.  Maintain a very low fire.
  4. Add the grated nutmeg and salt according to taste.
  5. Take away from the fire when the mixture becomes thick.



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