Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lasagne with Radicchio and Speck

Here is the perfect dish for a special dinner. You will be sure to impress your guests with this lasagna with radicchio and speck!
Last night I felt like cooking something a little special, which takes a bit longer to prepare, but it's well worth the effort.This is a great dish to cook for guests. You will definitely hear lots of "oohs" and "aahs" and especially "mmms". Ready to impress everybody with this deliciously Italian lasagna?!?
You can prepare it in advance and reheat it in the oven at the last minute. This will give you more time to mingle with the guests while sipping your wine, rather then spending all your time in the kitchen cooking, and missing out on all the fun.

Radicchio and speck are both ingredients that are not as common here as in Italy.
Radicchio is a leafy vegetable, with white-veined red leaves. It has a spicy and slightly bitter taste. It can be used row in a salad, or cooked and used in many different recipes. It comes in two varieties. The first is round about the size of a grapefruit, as shown in my picture. This is easier to find - I bought mine at my local Ralphs. The other variety is the radicchio of Treviso, which has a more elongated shapes, similar to the Belgian endive. Both can be used in this recipe.
Speck is a smoked prosciutto, native to Alto Adige, a region of Northern Italy. As you see in the picture, it looks similar to a prosciutto, a little darker in color, but with a unique taste and delicate aroma. This is a little harder to find. My local Whole Foods used to sell it, but no longer does. If you live in the Los Angeles area, you can find it at Guidi Marcello, in Santa Monica.
In this recipe, you could substitute speck with prosciutto or pancetta. The result will still be excellent.
Here is the recipe:                                                                      Printable Recipe

Ingredients: Pan measuring 8 x 11 in. Serving around 6 people - leftovers are always great!
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 medium minced onion
  • 1 radicchio (shown in picture)
  • 6 oz of speck
  • about 12 oz of mozzarella cheese (shredded or in cut in small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 box of oven-ready lasagna pasta (Barilla)
  • salt to taste
For the besciamella (white) sauce :
  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • about 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Preparation time: 45 minutes to prepare, plus 45 minutes to bake

Step 1: In a large skillet saute' the chopped onion in the olive oil. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the radicchio sliced in thin stripes. Sprinkle with salt and let simmer over medium heat until soft, about 15 minutes.
Step 2: While the radicchio cooks, you can start with the besciamella sauce as shown in my recipe.
Cut  the speck in small strips and add it to the radicchio. Mix well and let cook for a couple of more minutes.

Step 3: As soon as the besciamella is cooked, we are ready to assemble the lasagna.
Start with a little bit of besciamella at the bottom of a rectangular baking dish - I used a 8x11 inch baking pan. 
Arrange the noodles flat, break them if necessary. Note, the Barilla lasagna is oven ready, so the noodles don't need to go in boiling water - so much easier to work with!
Over the noodle, spread about 1/4 of the radicchio with speck. You don't need to completely cover the pasta, just spread it around evenly.
Top with 1/4 of the mozzarella and a bit of the besciamella (about 1/5)
Repeat the layers a few more times: lasagna, radicchio/speck, mozzarella and besciamella.
End with lasagna pasta and only besciamella  and the Parmesan cheese.
You should be able to obtain 4 to 5 layers, if the pan is deep enough. The trick is to be able to use all the ingredients but not finished them before the end of the layering - especially besciamella. You need to cover the top completely with besciamella!

Step 4: Cover with foil and cook in the over for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. 
Uncover and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. You want the Parmesan cheese to melt and make a nice golden top. Increase the temperature and/or move the pan to the upper part of the oven if needed.
Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. Mmm . . . Absolutely delizioso !

 Now, I want to here all your guests' comments !

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