We came up with this recipe while brainstorming how to make a pasta dish for two, and landed on lasagna because it's the ultimate crowd-pleaser, the king of all baked pastas, the most impressive thing we could think of. We are not ashamed to admit that the idea for presenting it this way came from a photo of baked cinnamon buns in a pan, though we later learned that there is in fact a classic, pinwheel shaped pasta dish that exists in Italy, called rotolo.
We wanted to make this version taste like classic lasagna and pulled in all the flavors of a true lasagna Bolognese — fresh pasta, besciamella, Bolognese sauce — and added some Italian American twists of our own (i.e. mozzarella, tomato sauce, sweet Italian sausage). It's perfect for sharing, because each person gets a pinwheel, and the whole top is crispy, so every bite is perfect. The lasagna is lighter than most traditional lasagnas because we use robiola cheese instead of ricotta cheese. The pinwheels are easy to share, and they are fun to make.
Technique tip: Make sure all ingredients are chilled before rolling the lasagna. Swap option: Most of the labor-intensive components can be swapped for store-bought ones, i.e. the Bolognese can be swapped for a store-bought meat sauce, the tomato sauce can be swapped for store-bought sauce, and the pasta sheets can be purchased at a high-end grocery store. The besciamella can be skipped if there are time constraints.
Special equipment: A pasta sheeter and a food processor.
- 1½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 quarts whole milk, cold
- 2 Spanish onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 5 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 4 ounces pancetta, ground or processed in food processor
- 1 pound ground veal
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 pods star anise
- 2 small cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano DOP tomatoes
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano DOP tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 leaves basil
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- cooked pasta sheets (recipe above)
- béchamel (recipe above)
- mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Parmesan, grated
- Bolognese (recipe above)
- tomato sauce (recipe above)
- robiola cheese
- parsley, chopped
For the pasta:1.
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until it comes together into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.2.
Roll dough into large square sheets with a pasta roller to desired thickness.3.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set up a bowl of ice water.4.
Cook pasta sheets, submerging in the water for one minute then immediately placing into the ice bath. Remove from ice bath and set aside to cool.
For the béchamel:
Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add shallots, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. Cook over low heat until shallots are translucent. Add flour and stir well. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and stir. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt to taste.
Remove from heat and strain through very fine mesh sieve. Place, covered in the refrigerator to cool.
For the Bolognese:1.
Process onions, garlic, celery and carrots together in a food processor. Set aside.2.
In a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, sear the sausage and ground veal in olive oil. Remove from pot and set aside.3.
Add pancetta to the pot and cook over medium heat until crispy. Add processed vegetables and cook over medium heat until soft. Add tomato paste and stir. Cook for five minutes. Add wine and let cook until fully evaporated. Add veal and sausage back into the pot. Add milk, star anise pods and San Marzano tomatoes. Stir well and cook over medium-low heat for about two hours. Remove and discard star anise pods. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat and place, covered in refrigerator to cool.
For the tomato sauce:
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic and cook over low heat until soft. Add tomatoes, increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and add basil. Season with salt to taste. Remove basil and garlic. Place, covered in the refrigerator to cool.
Preheat oven to 400°F.2.
Lay out a pasta sheet on a clean countertop. Spread a thin layer of béchamel evenly across the pasta sheet.3.
Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella over the béchamel. Place another sheet of pasta on top. Spread a layer of Bolognese evenly across the second pasta sheet, leaving one edge uncovered with sauce in order to seal the roll closed. Roll the layered pasta into a log. Place in refrigerator to cool.4.
When cool, slice the lasagna log into pinwheels. Ladle the tomato sauce into a casserole to cover the entire bottom of the dish. Lay lasagna pinwheels into the casserole dish, with the cut sides facing up, until the dish is full. Add dollops of robiola cheese in between the pinwheels.5.
Place in the oven and and bake for about fifteen minutes or until pasta edges are golden brown. Top with chopped parsley and serve.