I would like ways to use a surplus of lasagna sheets. I have Three kids, and only two of us enjoyed real lasagna.
This question was prompted in part by a recent Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for dal pitta, which, for convenience, swapped out freshly made noodle batter for roughly torn sheets of lasagna. And, as with many things in life, soup is a good way to go here.
“I would tear very small sheets with a small hammer, which is a fun job, or kids can break them up with their fingers and then throw them on thick things,” says Claire Thomson, author of Year of home cooking. This could be, he says, a zucchini, basil, cream and stock number, or a seasonal minestrone. “With the arrival of spring, I would say peas, broad beans, a good sauteed [chopped onion, carrot, celery], lots of herbs, chicken or vegetable broth, then split lasagna to cook in the soup. “
That sentiment is echoed by our Roman food correspondent Rachel Roddy, whose new book The AZ of pasta comes out in July: “I love lasagna sheets and I’m a big fan of maltagliati [‘badly cut pieces’]. “He breaks these leaves into pieces and adds them to members of the thick bean soup family. pasta and beans, pasta and chickpeas, pasta and lentils; essentially anything you can normally use small pasta shapes on. Keep an eye on it while it cooks though, Roddy cautions: “Sometimes you will need to add a little extra water to keep it thick.”
The great thing about lasagna is, of course, that it can be treated simply as sheets of pasta. “If you parboil them briefly, to make them soft, you can use a sharp knife to cut them into tagliatelle,” says Roddy. “Although obviously they wouldn’t be very long tagliatelles.” For Mitshel Ibrahim, chef-owner of Ombra in East London, who has been making lasagna on Sundays during closing, cannelloni are the obvious answer. “I’d boil the lasagna for a couple of minutes, then fill it with ricotta and spinach,” he says, “or with a Neapolitan-style ragout.” Roll into tubes, dip in tomato sauce, and bake until slightly crisp on top. Although, admits Ibrahim, this “is still a kind of pasta baking.”
If you have fresh lasagna sheets hanging around in the freezer, take the lead at London’s Bancone pasta shop, which turns them into “silk scarves.” Cut the leaves into 12½cm squares, then cook in a saucepan of boiling salted water for two to three minutes and serve with nut butter and candied egg yolk. Of course, that might not be exactly Sarah’s children’s alley, but she could instead look to Liguria in northwestern Italy and serve those pasta handkerchiefs with pesto alla Genovese.
If in doubt, though, do like Roddy and break up any excess stubborn lasagna sheets, then store them in a jar with other near-empty packet shapes. “One of the great things about a jar of mixed pasta is that the cooking times are a bit different,” he says, which is particularly popular with his partner, Vincenzo, who likes his pasta the right way. al dente. So, adds Roddy, just start experimenting.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism