Monday, September 18, 2006

French Goat Cheese Lasagne

I am quite amazed at the number of food blogs to be found.
They can be about pretty much any aspect of food and food preparation, and can be as amusing (or, frankly, as boring) as the person writing it.

I got into some of the French and Italian language food blogs and have become quite addicted to several, checking in daily and being a bit disappointed if there is no new entry.

One of the ones I check regularly is “C’est moi qui l’ai fait” or “I made it myself.” This is written by a young French woman, wife and mother, who has quite a flair for interesting food combinations. And one of the recipes I found not only sounded quite tasty, but also sounded like one I could do ahead. I like that in a recipe! So I gave it a shot. And what a delight it was, even better than I had thought it might be. So of course I must share it with you.

The recipe calls for pancetta. This is a sort of Italian bacon, spiced, cured and rolled and available in specialty food markets. But it isn’t smoked, so our bacon wouldn’t be quite the same. My testing groug all thought prosciutto or other ham would be a little too lean. We finally decided that a good quality Italian salami might do the trick if you don't want to come to Mantia's for pancetta.

The original recipe also called for all goat cheese but I thought that might be a little strongly flavored for the other ingredients, so I mixed it with ricotta. And although the original recipe didn’t call for it, I roasted some asparagus and topped each serving with it, a felicitous addition. All in all, we loved it, and I bet your friends will too!

Mini Lasagnes au Pesto de Pistaches, Fromage de Chèvre et Pancetta
(Individual Lasagne with Pistacho Pesto, Goat Cheese and Pancetta)

12 lasagne noodles
24 slices of pancetta (cut about bacon thickness)
1/2 to 3/4 cup pistachio pesto
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh (soft) goat cheese
1 cup shredded mixed asiago, pecarino romano and parmesan cheeses

Preheat the oven to 400. Cook the noodles according to package directions in plenty of boiling well salted water. Drain and arrange on paper towels.

Place the pancetta slices in one layer on baking sheets and bake until done but not quite crisp, 10-15 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Mix the goat cheese with the ricotta cheese.

Cut the noodles in half crosswise. In each of six individual oiled baking dishes place a noodle square. Top with a good tablespoon of the ricotta-goat cheese combination, a teaspoon of the pesto and a slice of pancetta. Repeat to make four layers altogether, ending with pancetta. Sprinkle with the cheeses. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until hot rhrough, and the cheese topping is melted and lightly browned. Serves 6.

Pistacho Pesto

1/2 lb unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
A big handful, closely packed, fresh basil leaves (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup, closely packed, flat leave parsley leaves
Salt and pepper
1 cup good extra virgin olive oil

In the best of all worlds, this would be made by hand, in an old-fashioned mortar and pestle. I just don’t think we’re going to do that, are we? So in a food processor, place the pistachios and garlic and pulse several times to chop coarsely. Add the basil and parsley and pulse several more times. Add a good sprinkle of salt and several grindings of black pepper. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin stream, just until combined.

This makes more than you will need for this recipe. Store the remaining pesto in a container in the fridge, covered with a thin layer of olive oil, and use as a pasta sauce, or mixed into a vinaigrette for a salad dressing, or as a crostini topping, or drizzled over almost any grilled meat, poultry or seafood.

2 comments:

French Cheese Lover said...

I would like to insert my "five cents" to the topic! :) There is a wonderful article I recently read about French cheeses. I just loved it, check for yourself!r

Katie said...

I think I love EVERY recipe i've ever come across with goat cheese and this one looks so good I'm sure it will be no exception! thanks for linking it up at katie's language cafe recipe friday link up! ~~katie