Today I’m leaving for my holidays: a nineteenth-century train journey towards Paris, where I’ll spend 30 hours, just 30 little and lonely hours to enjoy la Ville Lumière, where I’ll be for the very first time. I don’t have a plan yet, though I have a long journey by train to read my guide and shape my short – very short – tailor-made itinerary. After Paris, I’ll move to London, by train again, where for the first time I will spend about ten days, instead of the usual hit and run weekend.
But here we are with the second recipe for our midsummer night’s dinner. Since I am a fresh pasta maniac, what could be the first course if not a fresh pasta dish?
The lasagna is one of those dishes that best suit a dinner with many friends, as it can be made in advance and slightly warmed just before serving. In summer, try this lighter and fresh version, it will soon become one of your favourite dishes.
Cherry tomato and mozzarella lasagne
A fresh, summery, vegetarian lasagne, layered with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano, with the refreshing aroma of basil. Make it for a group of friends or the whole family gathered around a table for a summer dinner.
The ingredients of the tomato and mozzarella lasagne
Fresh mozzarella fiordilatte is better enjoyed in its purest form. Slice it, or torn into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil, and serve it at room temperature. For this lasagne, you do not need top-quality mozzarella, as you’re going to bake it. An average store-bought mozzarella would do. It is also a perfect recipe to upcycle old mozzarella.
As for the scamorza, if you cannot find it just substitute it with the same amount of mozzarella.
If you do not feel like making fresh pasta, you can use store-bought lasagne sheets. You’ll need approximately 500 grams (1 lb) of fresh lasagne.
Cherry tomato and mozzarella lasagne
For the fresh pasta lasagne sheets
- 150 grams (1 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour
- 150 grams (3/4 cups) semolina flour
- 3 medium eggs
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
For the lasagne filling
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 500 grams (1 lb) mozzarella fior di latte, diced
- 150 grams (5 ¼ ) scamorza cheese, shredded
- 120 grams (1 ¼ cups) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Fresh basil leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 350 ml (1 ½ cups) whole milk
Make fresh pasta
- Combine the two flours on a wooden working surface and shape them into a mound with a large well in the centre. Crack in the eggs, then pour in the olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Using a fork, stir slowly, starting from the centre of the eggs and gradually picking up more flour from the edges, whisking as if you are beating eggs for an omelette. When the dough turns crumbly, switch to kneading with your hands.
- Continue kneading the ball of dough until the gluten starts to develop, as this will render the sheets of pasta stronger. The movement is all in the wrist: roll the dough outwards and away from you with the heel of your palm, then fold it back over onto itself and repeat the rolling movement. When the ball of dough is smooth, silky, and no longer sticky, wrap it in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using it.
Now prepare the lasagne.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C /400 degrees F.
- Roll out the dough into paper-thin sheets of pasta. Leave the pasta sheets on a tablecloth dusted with semolina flour. Have all the other ingredients ready nearby.
- Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil across the bottom of a 20- x 30-cm (8- x 12-inch) baking dish. Then line it with enough sheets of pasta to cover it. Spoon one quarter of the tomatoes over the pasta sheets, then top them with one quarter of the mozzarella and one quarter of the scamorza. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, add a few basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with more sheets of pasta, and repeat for three more layers.
- Pour the milk over the lasagne, pierce it with a knife, and press the lasagne with a fork.
- Finish with a good dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil, for a nice and golden crust.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
- Let it rest for a few hours, or better yet overnight, and reheat just before serving.
More lasagne from the blog archive
- My grandma’s lasagne. It is quite unique, as it is not the Bolognaise recipe, but her own version, made with béchamel sauce, her Tuscan ragout, mozzarella and paper-thin sheets of fresh pasta. I followed her layer after layer, learning the importance of balancing the ingredients, spreading the béchamel and the ragout with a wooden spoon as to cover the entire surface, without exceeding with quantities.
- Lasagne alla bolognese. There are four elements that distinguish lasagne alla Bolognese from other lasagne, so typical of the Italian gastronomic culture: fresh green egg pasta, made with spinach; ragù Bolognese, made with beef and pork, cooked slowly, for a long time; béchamel sauce and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Pesto and ricotta lasagne. This lasagna is quick to make and quite light compared to the classic lasagna prepared with béchamel and ragù. Instead of the béchamel, I used fresh sheep ricotta, softened with some milk and flavoured with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and black pepper. You can choose the ricotta you prefer: cow milk for a more neutral taste, goat milk ricotta if you like stronger flavours, or even buffalo ricotta: with this, you will get a rich and creamy lasagna.