I've been nagging Robin to help me make a lasagna with sheep cheese for awhile, primarily because I have an allergy to dairy, which means a "real" lasagna is simply out of the question for me. Somewhere along the way this morphed into a recipe that was something closer to the whole sheep lasagna. We substituted ground lamb in place of the normal meats you would include in a lasagna and instead of spinach we used Marche, the greens also known as lamb's lettuce. The result was an outstanding dish that stacks up nicely against any of the more traditional lasagna recipes (just because I shouldn't eat dairy doesn't mean I don't sample on occasion).
Whole Sheep Lasagna Recipe
2lbs ground lamb (coarse if you can get it)
1 Tbl fennel
2 Tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste
28oz can Crushed Tomatoes (San Marzano)
1/2 yellow sweet onion (diced)
5 whole cloves garlic
1 Tsp red pepper flakes
1Tsp anchovy paste
3 Tbl EVOO
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine (Sangiovese / Chianti)
1/4 cup total basil, oregano, thyme
1 pint grape tomatoes
16oz cubed soft sheep milk's cheese
1 cup grated pecorino romano
3-4oz Mache (lamb's lettuce) or sub spinach
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves whole
2-3 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
- Preheat oven 375
- Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente. Remove from heat and set aside in a little water and olive oil
- While the noodles are boiling, use a medium saute pan to brown lamb and combine with ingredients for seasoning meat. At this time you can also start your sauce by sweating your onions and garlic in medium sized sauce pan, combing the onion and garlic with olive oil, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper.
- Once meat is brown set aside.
- Finish sauce by adding wine, cook to reduce till liquid is almost gone.
- Add crushed tomatoes to the sauce, simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes (this is a good place to sample the wine you purchased for dinner)
- Prepare your filling by picking basil, cubing soft cheeses, grating pecorino romano (reserve half cup of cheese for top). Combine all filling ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
- Slice mushrooms
- Add chopped herbs and grape tomatoes to sauce. Combine meat and sauce at this point.
- Using the saute pan from your meat add olive oil and saute mushrooms on medium high to high. Add salt, pepper, and thyme to mushrooms. Saute till browned. Add mushrooms to bowl with filling.
- Prepare lasagna 9x12 baking dish so you can start making layers.
- Coat the bottom of dish with a layer of sauce, followed by a layer of noodles, and then a layer of filling (veggies cheese and mushrooms).
- Repeat layers until you get to your last row of noodles, then finish with a layer of sauce and sprinkle the reserve cheese on the top.
- Cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove foil, change oven setting to broil. Cook lasagna until topping is golden brown and bubbly (5 minutes max). Don't walk away at this stage or the lasagna will burn.
- Remove from oven, allow to rest for 5-7 minutes before serving.
- Serve with bread, salad, and your favorite Italian wine.
The three sheep cheeses used in this recipe are pecorino romano, pecorino di pienza, and brigante pecorino pinna. The pecorino romano is an excellent cheese for grating, the other two cheeses a much better for melting.