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Herbed Tomato Béchamel Sauce
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Generous pinch dried oregano
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup thick tomato purée
3 egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped pine nuts or almonds
3 pounds fresh spinach, cooked until wilted,
squeezed dry, and finely chopped, or
five 10-ounce packages frozen spinach,
thawed,, squeezed dry, finely chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup raisins [we prefer golden raisins]
1 pound ricotta, drained
1/2 pound spicy Italian salami, minced
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
Salt, pepper
8 ounces fontinella cheese, shredded
8 ounces Asiago or Parmesan, grated
3 ounces Gruyère or Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 to 3/4 pound lasagne, cooked al dente,
rinsed and drained on paper towels

For the sauce:  Melt 1/4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan until it is bubbly. Remove from heat and whisk in flour, basil, thyme and oregano. Cook,
stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes being careful not to let the flour
brown. Gradually whisk in the half-and-half. Increase the heat slightly
and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the
tomato purée. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Whisk in the
egg yolks. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Transfer to a
storage container. Spread 1 tablespoon butter over sauce to prevent a
skin from forming. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the lasagne:
  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add
onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and caramelized, about
25 to 30 minutes. Stir in garlic and nuts and cook about 30 seconds. Mix
in spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until dry. Remove from heat and
season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Blend in raisins. Set aside
and cool.
Combine the ricotta, salami, green onion, egg yolk, parsley, basil, and salt
and pepper to taste in a medium bowl and blend well.
Mix the fontinella, Asiago, and Gruyère cheeses in another medium bowl; reserve 1 1/4 cups for topping.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9- by 13-inch baking
dish or 2 medium baking dishes. Whisk through the chilled sauce several
times to lighten, Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of the pre-
pared dish. Cover with a layer of pasta. Top with a thin layer of spinach.
Dot with ricotta mixture and sprinkle with fontinella mixture. Repeat layer-
ing, ending with pasta. Pour the remaining sauce over lasagne and sprinkle
with reserved 1 1/4 cups cheeses. Bake until bubbly and lightly browned,
45 to 60 minutes. Turn off heat; let lasagne stand in the oven 20 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
Variation:  Spread each lasagne noodle with thin layers of spinach and
ricotta mixture. Roll each noodle up jelly-roll fashion, tucking a small stalk
of steamed broccoli into each roll. Arrange in bottom of buttered baking
dish. Sprinkle with Fontina mixture. Cover and freeze or refrigerate.
Pour the Herbed Tomato Béchamel Sauce over the pasta rolls just
before baking.

Note: Either variation of lasagne can be assembled without sauce and
refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 months. Sauce can be prepared
3 days ahead and refrigerated.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Classic Lasagne (Mario Pei)
Everybody Loves Lasagna
Asparagus Lasagne
Grilled Vegetable Lasagna (Emeril)
Vegetarian Lasagne (Martha Stewart)

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