Monday, April 9, 2018

L is for: Lasagna Rolls {from Don Angie}

Ever since I visited Don Angie last November, I've been sort of obsessed. It's a new Italian restaurant in the West Village of NYC, and everything on their menu is addictively delicious. I've been three times so far, and while my order has changed *slightly* depending on who I've dined with... one thing has remained constant: the famous "Lasagna for Two."

It's definitely their signature dish, and certainly their most-instagrammed one. (Did I really just type that?)

But it's true. It's not your typical lasagna. Instead of large heavy squares, it consists of light, rolled sheets of pasta where every piece has the perfect balance of cheesy goodness, pasta, and crispy edges. It's as beautiful as it is delicious.

It's also 64 dollars.

A post shared by @ donangienyc on

And while it's totally worth it (especially if you visit with a group of 3-4 people and can order other things), I got to thinking about attempting to make it at home. Fortunately, figuring out the exact recipe wasn't as difficult as I expected because the husband and wife team behind Don Angie actually made the famous lasagna on a Today Show segment. They were also kind enough to post the recipe online, and offer more tips here on Food & Wine's website.

That said... I'm not going to lie to you. This is an extremely labor intensive dish. It involves making three different sauces, and either making your own pasta or locating pasta sheets at a pasta shop. It's also recommended that you make all the sauces a day before you plan to assemble and cook, so it's actually a 2-day process.

But now that I have the warnings and disclaimers out of the way... if I haven't scared you away just yet, you should totally try making it! (Especially if you don't live in NYC where you could easily just visit the restaurant.)

Also, I noticed that the amounts listed online would make a really large batch of each sauce, so I've cut them down accordingly to what I think to be more appropriate for making just one pan of this delightful lasagna. I made my bolognese with all pork because I used some of it to cook dinner when my sister was in town and she doesn't eat beef (the original Don Angie recipe calls for veal.) I also made the bolognese on a different day than the rest of this recipe when Justin wasn't available for photos, so please enjoy this helpful time lapse of me making pork bolognese.

The next sauce you need to tackle is a bechamel. It's a basic white sauce, to which Don Angie adds some aromatics like shallots, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. Again, the recipe posted by the Today Show would make a $h** TON of sauce. Like, more than you could ever ever need. So I cut it down by more than 1/4. (And yes, that's a Lionel Richie cutting board, and yes, it's awesome.)

If you've never made a béchamel before, it starts with a healthy amount of butter (5 tablespoons to be exact.) Melt in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add shallots, bay leaves, thyme sprig and peppercorns. Cook over low heat until shallots are translucent.

Add flour and stir well. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and stir. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with salt to taste. This will be the glue that holds the rolls together, so you will want it to get fairly thick.

Remove from heat and strain through very fine mesh sieve to remove the aromatics and any lumps that may have developed. Cover and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

**Substitution suggestion: If you don't want to make a béchamel, you could probably try subbing with a really high quality ricotta, as it will have a similar "spreadable" quality.

Next up, the easiest sauce you will make for this recipe... a simple tomato sauce. I considered using my go-to marinara sauce, but this one is even simpler. The reason, according to Scott Tacinelli, is to make it light and acidic, to help cut through the cheese, pasta, and rich bolognese. It's the exact opposite of the bolognese, which is slow cooked, developing lots of flavor depth.

Olive oil is seasoned with garlic and red pepper flakes, to which you add San Marzano tomatoes. Once the tomatoes come to a boil, you immediately remove it from the heat, take out the garlic, and refrigerate.

**Substitution suggestion: If you want to make the process even easier, you could try substituting with a store-bought marinara sauce.

Now for the pasta. To achieve the signature pinwheel look, Don Angie uses large sheets of pasta, stuffs them, rolls them, and then cuts them. Obviously, they make the pasta in house. Feel free to knock yourself out and really go all out. However, I tracked down some fresh pasta sheets at a local pasta store in Williamsburg called Savino's Quality Pasta. I recommend going this route to save you a little time and hard work.

Don Angie's recipe also specifies to boil the pasta for one minute before cooling it down in an ice bath. However, the gruff Italian woman at the pasta shop specifically told me NOT to boil the noodles. Granted, she probably thought I was doing a traditional lasagna, but either way, I didn't want to go against her explicit instructions. (And moreso, I didn't really think I had a big enough pot to boil and ice down a giant sheet of pasta. Basically, I was being lazy.)

Now for the fun part... Stuffing and rolling! Start with one sheet of pasta on a clean workspace. Cover the entire thing with a thin layer of bechamel, making sure to leave about 1/4 cup for the second layer. Sprinkle the bechamel with grated Parmesan and shredded mozzarella.

Then cover with the second sheet of pasta. Spread the remaining bechamel on one edge of the second sheet, a couple inches wide (again, this will help you "glue" everything together.)

Next, spread a layer of bolognese over about half of the pasta sheet. Don't worry about covering the entire sheet with bolognese, because once you start rolling, the sauce will spread even more on its own.

Then, as you would for a cinnamon roll log or a giant burrito, start rolling everything lengthwise, until it's a giant log. (Except don't tuck in the ends.)

Place, seam side down, in the refrigerator to set up and fuse the flavors together.

Confession: I actually skipped this step (being lazy again), and it was fine... but if you have time, I would do it for maybe 30-60 minutes.

**Substitution suggestion: if you can't find the pasta sheets, you could try using traditional lasagna noodles and rolling individually. If doing this, I would only do one layer of noodles.

When cool, slice the lasagna log into pinwheels. Ladle the tomato sauce into a casserole to cover the entire bottom of the dish.

Lay lasagna pinwheels into the casserole dish, with the cut sides facing up, until the dish is full. Because I didn't boil the pasta sheets first, I made sure every part of the noodle was covered with sauce. For this reason, I probably used more tomato sauce than they do at the restaurant.

Finally, add dollops of robiola cheese in between the pinwheels.

But a note about the robiola... chef Angie described it as "a light Italian cream cheese." The robiola I purchased at Whole Foods was closer in texture to a brie. After doing a little research (post lasagna coma), it turns out there's a fresh robiola, as well as a slightly aged version. I apparently bought the latter. So long story short, look for a fresh robiola, likely available at a specialty cheese shop. (That said, mine was still delicious, just not as light as the dish I had at the restaurant.)

**Substitution suggestion: if you can't find fresh robiola, you can try subbing marscapone or ricotta, it just will be slightly different in texture, and a tad heavier. 

At the restaurant, they serve six lasagna pinwheels. My pasta sheet made 10, so mine was more like "Lasagna for 3 or 4." Put in the oven at 425 degrees and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the top edges of the pasta have started to crisp and brown.

(The original recipe said to cook for 15-20 minutes, but I found that mine needed closer to 30-35 minutes.) You can also run it under the broiler for a minute or two if you feel it's cooked through, but hasn't yet browned on top.

**Next time, I might even cover it for the first 15 minutes to help fully cook the pasta sheets with steam if not pre-boiling. 

Top with chopped parsley (go for the flat-leaf variety, unless you send your BF out for parsley and forget to tell him there are two kinds, at which point just use curly parsley and call it a day.)

Choose your plus-1 carefully to share your "Lasagna for Two." (But I won't tell if you just make "lasagna for one" and keep it all for yourself.)

Lasagna Rolls

adapted from Don Angie by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake entree lasagna bolognese marinara sauce mozzarella Italian

Ingredients (serves 2-4)
    For the Béchamel:
    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
    • 1 small shallot, sliced
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 sprig of thyme (optional, I skipped)
    • 8-10 black peppercorns
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups cold whole milk
    • Salt
    For the Bolognese:
    • 2 ounces finely diced pancetta
    • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
    • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
    • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 pound ground hot Italian sausage (or can use sweet to be closer to Don Angie recipe)
    • 1/2 pound ground pork (or sub ground beef or veal to be closer to DA recipe)
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup dry wine (white is more traditional, but red works too if that’s what you have open)
    • 1 (32 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes & juices, broken up with a knife (preferably DOP Tomatoes)
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • Salt
    For the tomato sauce:
    • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
    • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
    • 1 (32 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes & juices, broken up with a knife (preferably DOP Tomatoes)
    • Salt
    For assembling the lasagna rolls:
    • 2 large fresh pasta sheets (i.e. 9x9 or 13x9)
    • Béchamel (recipe above) (possible sub: whole milk ricotta)
    • 8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded
    • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
    • Bolognese (recipe above)
    • Tomato Sauce (recipe above) (possible sub: store bought marinara)
    • 6 ounces fresh Robiola cheese (possible sub: marscapone or ricotta)
    • Flat leaf Parsley, chopped
    For the béchamel:
    1. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add shallots, bay leaves, thyme sprig and peppercorns. Cook over low heat until shallots are translucent.
    2. Add flour and stir well. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and stir. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt to taste.
    3. Remove from heat and strain through very fine mesh sieve. Cover and place in the refrigerator to cool.

    For the Bolognese:
    1. In a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, sauté the pancetta until fat starts to render and pancetta starts to get crispy.
    2. Add diced onions, celery & carrots and sauté until they start to soften. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
    3. Push the vegetable & pancetta mixture to the side. Add olive oil and then add the Italian sausage and ground pork and cook until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon or back of a fork. Season with a couple grinds of black pepper.
    4. Add wine and cook for 5-10 minutes, until alcohol has cooked out. Add San Marzano tomatoes & milk. Stir well, breaking up any big tomato chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium-low heat for about two hours. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat, cover and place in refrigerator to cool.

    For the tomato sauce:
    1. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic and cook over low heat until soft. Add red pepper flakes and cook another 1-2 minutes.
    2. Add tomatoes, increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat. Season with salt to taste. Remove garlic. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

    For the assembly:
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
    2. Lay out a pasta sheet on a clean countertop. Spread a thin layer of béchamel evenly across the pasta sheet.
    3. Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella over the béchamel. Place another sheet of pasta on top. Spread a layer of Bolognese evenly across the second pasta sheet, leaving one edge uncovered with sauce in order to seal the roll closed. Roll the layered pasta into a log. Place in refrigerator to cool.
    4. When cool, slice the lasagna log into pinwheels. Ladle the tomato sauce into a casserole to cover the entire bottom of the dish. Lay lasagna pinwheels into the casserole dish, with the cut sides facing up, until the dish is full. Add dollops of robiola cheese in between the pinwheels.
    5. Place in the oven and and bake until pasta edges are golden brown (at least 15 minutes, but possibly up to 30.) Top with chopped parsley and serve.
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    1 comment:

    1. I have done a couple of different lasagna, and always do a became, but never with all of that extra stuff in it... not sure I can find fresh pasta out here in the Midwest, but will have a look, I would like to give this a go.


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