Seriously, Mollie Katzen?

So, yesterday I made Lasagna al Pesto from Mollie Katzen’s cookbook The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  (The “new” part means it’s a re-issue of the original Enchanted Broccoli Forest, not that it’s about an enchanted broccoli forest only recently discovered.)  One step calls for finely mincing a pound of raw spinach.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a pound of raw spinach on a cutting board, unconfined by the plastic bag it came in.  It’s a lot.  I had to work on half a pound at a time, since my cutting board wasn’t large enough to accomodate it all.  And I think I gave up somewhere around “finely chopped”, which consists of significantly larger pieces than “minced”.

Is this small enough?

Even that took a long time. 15 or 20 minutes of chopping, easily, alternating between chef’s knife and cleaver. My shoulder is still a bit stiff.

I also made the green lasagna noodles the recipe called for from scratch, because I couldn’t find any at the grocery store. It was kind of a pain, but I’m a bit of a kitchen masochist (earlier this week, I made coconut milk from an actual coconut). I used the recipe in The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook (Beth Hensperger).  You can make a lot of stuff besides bread in a bread machine; this particular cookbook also has recipes for jam.  I thought it worked pretty well.  Rolling out the dough was a bit of a pain, as I don’t have a pasta machine and had to do it by hand.  But it was easier than I remembered from the last time I tried making homemade pasta, when I was a teenager.  I don’t know if it’s because the recipe I used this time was better, or because my arms are stronger now.

A sheet of spinach lasagna noodle drying on the counter

I didn’t bother cutting the pasta into lasagna strips, since I would have had to re-assemble them into sheets in the pan, anyway.  Though I did have some strips, because I didn’t realize the pasta recipe would only make enough for one batch of lasagna, so then I had to trim bits of the edges of the 3 sheets I rolled out to re-assemble into a 4th sheet in the baking dish.

I thought the homemade pasta was good, though not quite as amazing and wonderful as I’d hoped, after all that work. I did like it better than dry noodles, but it didn’t have the light, tender texture of really good fresh pasta. It was a bit doughy. I might have rolled it out too thick, or it might just be the recipe, which called for all-purpose flour instead of semolina.

The lasagna used up the last of my vegetable CSA produce, finally. I’d made massive amounts of pesto during the height of basil season, since we were getting an enormous bunch of fresh basil each week, and stashed it away in the freezer. This was the last container.

I didn’t take a picture of the final lasagna, because I’d made it for a potluck we were hosting, and by the time it came out of the oven, people were already here.  Donald thought it was good, for a vegetarian dish.  Other people seemed to like it well enough, too, since there was only a little bit left over.

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