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Rachel Roddy’s Vincisgrassi

Upgrade your usual lasagna with this utterly decadent, mushroom-rich recipe from Rachel Roddy. Bathed in a creamy béchamel and flavoured with Parmesan and prosciutto, this makes for a show-stopping centrepiece dish.

From the book

Rachel Roddy

Introduction

Baroque lasagna is how some describe this monument of Gastronomia Marchigiana. It is certainly an exuberant dish, layers of pasta, enriched with butter and sweet wine, ragù maybe enriched with offal and porcini, and folds of béchamel, the name of which is sometimes credited to an Austrian general stationed in Ancona in the late 1700s, other times to a rich truffle sauce.

As always with important dishes, opinions about how best to make vincisgrassi are forthright and there are many variations. I have enjoyed making what I understand to be a traditional version by Alessandro Molinari Pradelli in his book of La cucina delle Marche, which includes sweetbread, liver and brain in the ragù. Also a version from a friend which includes lots of fresh porcini and truffles. My favourite, though, is inspired by Ann and Franco Taruschio, and their version made and served at their restaurant The Walnut Tree, a magical coming together of Le Marche and Wales, which feels just right for this book. And it is a glorious meeting of pasta enticed with eggs and sweet wine, mushrooms, prosciutto and béchamel. Like lasagna, vincisgrassi are a project that will take over the kitchen, but the result is divine. Be generous with the final layer of grated Parmesan on top, and irregular with the edges – golden corners are good.

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Ingredients

For the pasta:
300g 00 flour
100g semola
3 eggs
50g soft butter
2 tbsp vin santo or Marsala
For the rest:
50g dried porcini
300g field mushrooms, or fresh porcini, sliced
150g butter
60g flour
800ml whole milk
60ml extra virgin olive oil
200ml single cream
3 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
14 slices of prosciutto, cut into strips roughly 1cm wide and 5cm long
salt and black pepper
150g Parmesan, grated

Essential kit

You will need: a 2 litre ovenproof gratin dish

Method

Soak the dried porcini in plenty of warm water for 30 minutes.

Working on a board or in a bowl, make a mountain of flour, use your fist to swirl a crater and into it break the eggs, butter and vin santo. Use a fork to start and then your hands, to make a rough dough. Knead until firm and smooth, then cover with an upturned bowl and leave to rest.

Roll out by hand or with a machine and cut into 20cm squares. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the sheets in batches for 1 minute, plunge them into cold water, then spread them out on clean cloths.

Drain the porcini, keeping the liquid. Slice the mushrooms.

For the béchamel, melt 50g of butter, add the flour and cook until golden and toasty. Add the warm milk and 400ml of porcini soaking liquid, a little at a time, beating well with a balloon whisk and then simmering until as thick as double cream.

In a frying pan, melt 20g of butter and the olive oil and fry the mushrooms until soft and collapsed, then add the soaked porcini. Add to the béchamel along with the cream and parsley, season, stir for a minute longer and then pull from the heat.

To assemble the vincisgrassi, butter a 2 litre ovenproof gratin dish and cover the bottom with a layer of pasta. Lay on some of the prosciutto, then spread over a layer of the béchamel, dot with butter and sprinkle with some Parmesan. Continue the process, making layer after layer, finishing with the seventh layer of pasta with defiant extruding corners, and top with the last of the béchamel and a final sprinkling of Parmesan.

Bake in the oven at 220°C for 20 minutes, then put under the grill for 3 minutes to toast the top.

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From the book: An A-Z of Pasta

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