The Washington Post

Lasagna al Pesto

Lasagna al Pesto 8.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Dec 22, 2017

This is an elegant, special-occasion dish from Italy's Liguria region, and it will take time to assemble. We think the results are worth the effort.

Fresh pasta is essential here; dried noodles simply aren’t thin or delicate enough to work here. If you’re using store-bought fresh pasta that is on the thick side, use a rolling pin or pasta rolling machine to stretch the sheets to about 1/16-inch thickness before parboiling them.

To read the accompanying story, see: Real lasagna is a culinary marvel worth every minute of your time.

Make Ahead: The pesto and bechamel sauce can be refrigerated a day or two in advance. The pasta should be made the same day it is used. The assembled, unbaked lasagna can be wrapped (in its baking dish) in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Remember to remove the plastic wrap and re-cover with foil before baking.

8 - 10

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-10 servings

  • For the pesto Genovese
  • 5 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves, preferably young and tender
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut into a few pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for covering the pesto
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino-Romano cheese, or a mix
  • For the lasagna
  • 1 pound Fresh Spinach Pasta for Lasagna (may substitute Fresh Egg Pasta for Lasagna; see related recipes)
  • 3 cups Bechamel Sauce, warmed (see related recipe)
  • 12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta cheese, well drained
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for the pan
  • Salt, for the pasta cooking water

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For the pesto Genovese: Place the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet and toast over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan often, until nuts are lightly browned. Let cool. Reserve 2 tablespoons to garnish the lasagna.

Pack the basil in a food processor, then add the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the toasted pine nuts and the coarse sea salt. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Gradually pour in the oil; puree to form a paste. Scrape the pesto into a bowl, then stir in the cheeses. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto. The yield is 1 packed cup.

For the lasagna: Spread a clean tablecloth on a table or clean, flat surface near the stove. Have ready the uncooked pasta, bechamel, pesto and cheeses.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch lasagna or baking dish (or 2 smaller baking dishes) with the butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat and salt generously (as in, 3 or 4 pinches of salt). Set a large bowl of ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the cooked parboiled lasagna noodles.

Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagna noodles at a time, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil for about 1 minute; the noodles cook quickly and should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to transfer them to the ice-water bath. Swish them around, then use the skimmer to transfer them to the tablecloth, where you will spread them out flat. Continue until you have cooked all the noodles. Stir a little of the hot pasta water into the pesto to loosen it to a spreading consistency.

Spread a thin layer of the bechamel in the bottom of the lasagna dish. Arrange a single layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread a second layer of bechamel over the noodles, and top with about one-fifth of the thinned pesto. Dollop one-fifth of the ricotta on top of the pesto and use a spoon to spread it out a bit (it doesn’t have to cover the entire surface). Sprinkle about one-sixth of the Parmigiano and/or pecorino on top. Gently press a second layer of noodles on top, followed by more bechamel, pesto, ricotta and grated cheeses. Continue with three more layers of noodles, bechamel, pesto and grated cheeses. Make a final (sixth) layer of noodles and top with the remaining bechamel. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top, then scatter the reserved 2 tablespoons of pine nuts on top of the lasagna.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more; the lasagna should be heated through with a nicely browned top. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source

From cookbook author Domenica Marchetti.

Tested by Domenica Marchetti.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 10): 440

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 31g 48%

Saturated Fat: 12g 60%

Cholesterol: 80mg 27%

Sodium: 820mg 34%

Total Carbohydrates: 24g 8%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 16g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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