I'm never totally convinced by veggie lasagnes but this open lasagne, ordered at our local Italian Rosemarino, was a cracker. Granted it doesn't look much (though my hastily snatched low-light picture doesn't help) but the combination of ingredients - spinach, walnuts and fontina cheese - was spot on.
I found some similar recipes on the Bon Appetit site here and this recipe site so it's probably just a question of adding some chopped toasted walnuts to your spinach (along with some other ingredients, obviously) and using a mild, melting cheese like Fontina. Or maybe making a walnut paste as Georgio Locatelli does in his superb Made in Italy Food and Stories. Walnuts seem to be a much more common element in savoury dishes in Italy than they are here.
Anyway I've asked the restaurant for the recipe. Cross fingers they're willing to share it! (And they've come up with the goods! See below though I reckon it would serve at least 8)
Open lasagne of spinach, ricotta, walnut & fontina
For the filling:
1kg of baby leaf spinach
1kg of Ricotta cheese
200g of toasted, chopped walnuts
4 large shallots
3 cloves of garlic
250g of Fontina cheese
Salt, pepper & nutmeg (to-taste)
For the pasta dough:
550g of plain flour
4 whole eggs & 6 egg yolks
2 tbsp of good olive oil
Pinch of salt
Semolina for dusting
(Good fresh lasagne sheets can also be used as a short cut but if you have a pasta machine it’s nice to use it)
• Combine all ingredients in a food mixer until the dough forms a ball • Rest in fridge for at least an hour • Roll by hand to a thickness of 3mm • Feed through a pasta machine dusting with semolina if necessary until you get to the second thinnest setting • Cut into squares of roughly the same size, approximately 10cm
• Blanche in boiling water for 3mins then refresh in iced water • Pat dry and coat lightly with olive oil, chill until required
• Thinly slice the shallots and garlic and cook gently in olive oil until soft but not coloured • Add the spinach and cook until wilted • Cool quickly and use a sieve to squeeze out any excess water • Mix in the ricotta & chopped walnuts
• Grate in a little nutmeg and season with salt & pepper • Thinly slice the Fontina cheese
Assembly: • Place a pasta sheet on an oiled tray • Spread 3 tbsp of the spinach mix evenly over the pasta and top with a slice of Fontina • Repeat twice, (its nice to place the pasta sheets at different angles), bake for ten minutes • Serve with good Italian bread (we recommend fresh focaccia) and a salad of your choosing.
For an English twist ‘Rachel’ goats cheese, from the White Lake Cheese Co. in Somerset, makes an excellent alternative to Fontina.
Rosemarino is at 1 York Place, Bristol BS8 1AH.