Each night for the past week, we have eaten amazing food cooked by the local donne of Faiola, a nearby town that is currently ‘in festa’. The concept of the country town Italian festa is new to me. Basically, towns celebrate the summer, different types of food and religious dates with communal parties. People do a lot of eating, drinking and dancing. At this festa, the talented locals made the best pizza I have ever eaten, fantastic umbrecelli and various cuts of charcoal grilled pork.
At home, our fridge and fruit baskets are full. At the festa, we won two whole legs of proscuitto in the spinning wheel lottery and our neighbours have been so generous with their overflowing orti, that we have a mountain of cucumbers, zucchini, basil, green beans and onions.
Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, a friend from Naples paid a visit. He gifted us three enormous balls of buffalo mozzarella and lemon crema pastries from an island in the city’s bay. The mozzarella was so sweet and lovely that we ate one ball with our hands, ripping pieces off and shoving them in. With the next ball we were more dignified and made a simple caprese. Then with the last one I made this; mozzarella, tomato and pea lasagne.
I rolled out the dough with the intention of making ravioli but it’s too hot to be messing around with little parcels. When I realised how much filling I had, it was clear I lacked the motivation to prepare enough to use it all up. So, I took the easy way out and made this. It was delicious.It’s very simple, which is a good thing when it comes to summer lasagne; you don’t always need five kinds of meat, cheese and béchamel to make your lasagne bang.
Tomato, pea and mozzarella
Makes four serves
1 cup of Napoli sauce
2 tablespoons of fresh or frozen peas,
1 big ball of buffalo mozzarella
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
8-10 basil leaves
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, for drizzling
For the lasagne sheets
1-½ cups of flour
1. Prepare the lasagne sheets by mixing together 1-½ cups of flour and two eggs. Knead it for eight minutes, then form it into a disc and rest it for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours, wrapped in plastic.
2. While the pasta is resting, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
3. Rip the mozzarella up into small pieces and place in a big bowl. Add the egg, basil, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix it with your hands and then squeeze to make sure everything is integrated. Mix the peas and Napoli sauce together.
4. When the pasta has rested long enough, roll it out thinly, either by hand or with a machine. Cut large, wide sheets, big enough to fit in your chosen lasagne pan. You might have more pasta than you need, but you can use any scraps in soup.
3. Drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over. Spread some of the cheese mixture evenly, season with pepper and top with a layer of pasta. Continue in this way, tomato sauce – cheese – pepper – pasta for two more layers. Finish with a layer of pasta and add a bit more cheese and grate some Parmesan over the top. Sprinkle with pepper, drizzle with more olive oil and any extra basil.
5. Bake until the top is brown and the edges are bubbling. This should take about half an hour but could take longer depending on your oven. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
6. When you’re ready to serve, tear some more basil leaves over the top and eat with a green salad.