Back in May, The Professor and I were invited to spend 12 days in the Tuscany region of Italy to shoot two hands-on Culinary Getaways for Jovial Foods; to say that it was an experience of a lifetime is an understatement. Gorgeous 18th Century Tuscan villa surrounded by majestic cypress trees, stone walls covered in roses, church bells peeling in the distance and access to some of the very best food I’ve ever eaten – it was memorable.
Days were divided into cooking classes and farm visits with enjoying gelato, cappuchinos and exploring the piazzas where townsfolk gather every afternoon; new friendships formed and we still keep in regular contact with one another. At the end of each week’s class, a feast is prepared by the participants to share what was learned, share favorite memories and toast one another’s successes; a playlist was gathered and in an upstairs ballroom, under the Tuscan moon, we danced – young, old, pregnant and everyone in between joined the party – as I said it was memorable.
This lasagna was served at the feast and was made by Jovial’s head pasta-maker, Lorenzo; it’s very close to my own lasagna but there was something a little different that I couldn’t quite put my finger on – by the end of dinner, an entire pan of lasagna was completely empty – not even a spoonful. I became obsessed with that lasagna and asked for the recipe – yes, it too, was memorable!
I made Lorenzo’s lasagna for a family party at the beginning of summer and let me just tell you, I’m the only one in the family who needs to be gluten-free; however, the lasagna was a big, big hit with everyone – they even asked to take leftovers home. This isn’t a sponsored post and Jovial did not ask me to write about them, the Culinary Getaways or their products – but I must tell you that Jovial is the only pasta we eat now; their olive oil and jarred tomatoes are organic and of the highest quality – those are stocked in our pantry as well. And their organic gluten-free cookies are handmade by artisan bakers in Venice – the fig-filled are my personal favorites but my younger sister loves the chocolate cream-filled. I could go on and on about the care and passion of the entire Jovial team – suffice it to say, these are the people I want making the food The Professor and I eat, pinky-swear.
The folks at Jovial are hosting another Culinary Getaway beginning this weekend, September 7-14 and is being taught by our good friends Shauna and Danny of Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef; we won’t be joining them this time (sniff, sniff) and the class is sold out. However, there will be another Culinary Getaway offered in the Spring of 2014 – we highly recommend attending if you’re looking for a vacation that includes great food, great company in a fabulous setting!
In the meantime, if lasagna is your thing (and seriously, who doesn’t love lasagna), please, please make this – you might even imagine yourself sitting in a marbled kitchen in a 18th-century Tuscan villa, sipping a glass of Chianti and laughing with good friends.
Makes one, large pan
FOR THE LASAGNA:
- 2 boxes Jovial Gluten-Free pasta, par-boiled, pat dry
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped – approximately 1-1/2 cups
- ½ cup white wine – I used a good Pinot Grigio
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- ½ pound ground veal
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 jars Jovial crushed tomatoes (18 ounce jars)
- 1-1/2 cups finely shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (for the layers)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BECHAMEL:
- 125 grams butter
- 75 grams brown rice flour
- 4 cups whole milk, warmed
FOR THE RAGU:
- Par-boil the lasagna noodles in a large pan of salted water for 4 minutes and place them on clean kitchen towels, pat dry; I spritz the noodles with ever so slightly with olive oil to keep them from sticking; set aside
- Sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent; add the white wine and cook until the wine evaporates
- Add ground meats and rosemary cooking until the meat has browned
- Add the jars of jovial crushed tomatoes and let it simmer covered for at least one hour
FOR THE BECHAMEL:
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat; add brown rice and blend well
- Cook the butter/flour mixture for about 1 minute, whisking constantly
- Slowly whisk in warmed whole milk – shouldn’t be boiling but do not pull milk out of the refrigerator and add or you will have lumps
- Whisk continually until thickened – not as thick as pudding, more like gravy; set aside
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
- Coat the bottom of a large baking dish (if you have a pan that is 4″ deep, use it) with some butter; add a ladle of meat sauce
- Placed a layer of par-cooked noodles on top; spread with bechamel sauce, then another ladle or so of meat sauce and a good sprinkling of Parmigiano
- Repeat layers ending with sauce and cheese
- Bake for about 40 minutes; let stand 10-15 minutes before serving