Sausages and artichokes are two of my favorite foods, so when I decided to make a lasagna dish recently I knew they would be a perfect combination for my filling. This recipe looks very labor intensive, but it really does come together pretty quickly and if you bought your fresh lasagna sheets, you could simplify the recipe even more. I never buy dry lasagna sheets, and always either make my own or buy fresh sheets already made at our local pasta shop if I am short on time. Although you can use dry noodles if you choose, using fresh egg noodles really does make a big difference in a dish such as this one.
I do realize that everyone is not as lucky as I am to be able to buy fresh artichokes, so you could replace the fresh ones with frozen if needed. Do not use canned or marinated artichokes from a jar as the dish just wouldn’t taste as good. This lasagna can be prepared ahead of time and just baked before you plan to serve it. I’ve even made a lasagna such as this one the day before when I was entertaining guests and wanted to plan ahead. I use about a total of 5 to 6 layers for all my lasagna dishes, alternating one layer of filling with a layer of sauce and cheese, but you can layer your pasta dish anyway you prefer!
Deborah Mele 2012
Artichoke & Sausage Filling:
- 6 Medium Artichokes, Cleaned & Sliced Into 1/4 Inch Slices
- 1 1/2 Pounds Mild Italian Sausages, Meat Removed From Casings
- 1 Cup Finely Diced Onion
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
- 1/2 Cup Fresh, Chopped Parsley
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 6 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
- 6 Cups Milk
- Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
- Salt And Pepper To Taste
- 4 Cups Unbleached Flour
- 5 Extra Large Eggs
- Pinch of Salt
To Assemble Lasagna:
- 1 1/2 Cups Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups Diced Mozzarella Cheese
- To make the artichoke filling, Place the artichokes in a pot with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium.
- Cook until the artichokes are just about cooked then drain.
- In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil, then cook the onions and sausages on medium heat, until the sausage has begun to turn brown and the onions are tender, about 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or two.
- Add the artichokes and white wine to the pan and mix, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn the heat up to medium heat and cook until the wine has been absorbed, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Stir the chopped parsley into the artichoke mixture and set aside.
- For the Béchamel Sauce, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, and once it is completely melted and bubbling, add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Cook for a minute or two until the flour just begins to take on some color.
- Slowly start adding the milk, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming.
- Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, stirring often.
- Season with a pinch of salt, white pepper and nutmeg.
- Set aside until you are ready to use, by pouring the sauce into a glass bowl and covering with a buttered sheet of plastic wrap.
- To make the pasta, mound your flour on a large pastry board, or the counter, and make a well in the center.
- Break the eggs into this well, and start to scramble each egg with a fork as it is being added, then start to incorporate the eggs and flour by slowly bringing more flour in from the inside edges of the well.
- Continue adding the flour to the eggs until they are no longer runny.
- Using your hands now, bring the outside edges in, forming a large mass on your board. (Use only the amount of flour needed to form a soft ball.)
- Begin to knead the ball of dough as you would bread, pushing it down with the heel of your hand.
- Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and satiny, for about 8 minutes.
- Wrap the prepared dough in plastic wrap, and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Use a pasta roller or roll by hand to make long sheets of pasta 1/4 thick. ( I use my Kitchen Aide table mixer with the pasta attachment and roll my past to the third last position.)
- After rolling, cut into 12 inch long strips.
- Precook in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in ice water.
- Dry and set aside on clean kitchen towels.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- To assemble the lasagna, first spread 1/2 cup of the béchamel on the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish rubbed with butter. (Set aside1 cup of the béchamel sauce for the top.)
- Arrange lasagna noodles over the sauce in the dish, trimming them to fit if needed.
- Spread some of the sausage and artichoke mixture over the noodles, top with a sprinkling of the Pecorino cheese, then spoon some of the béchamel sauce over to cover.
- The next layer spoon on enough of the béchamel to cover the noodles, then scatter some of the diced mozzarella and Pecorino cheese on top.
- Cover this layer with more lasagna noodles, then repeat with a sausage and artichoke layer.
- Repeat layers, ending with noodles.
- Spread the reserved 1 cup of béchamel sauce over the noodles and some of the grated Pecorino cheese. Cover with foil, and bake at 375°F for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until bubbly and lightly browned on top, about another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.