• Bolognese (half recipe, which was exactly enough for this dish)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 6 oz. pancetta*
  • 5 garlic cloves*
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced in the food processor
  • 1 celery stalk, minced in the food processor
  • 1 carrot, minced in the food processor
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1-2 cups milk, heated**
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 cups chicken  broth, heated (you can also use beef or veggie stock)**

Pasticcio is similar to lasagna with a bechamel sauce in place of most of the cheese. (Don’t worry, there is also cheese). This particular version uses spinach pasta and a bolognese. I saw Lidia Bastianich make it on her PBS show many years ago and instantly knew I wanted to try it. I think what held me back for so long was a) it’s complicated, to the point where while making this I declared “I’m only making this once a year, so don’t even ask for it!” and b) it’s SO decadent! It seems almost wrong.  But it’s not!! It’s SO right! I’m still only making it once a year though.

To make this dish you need to accept the undertaking of three large projects: 1) make spinach pasta, 2) make bolognese and 3) make béchamel.

Spinach Pasta
4 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained with all the liquid squeezed out of it
4 eggs
1 Tbs olive oil
3 1/2 to 4 cups of all purpose flour

Place spinach in a food processor and whir it up until it’s a finely chopped paste. Side note, you should have 4 oz. of spinach AFTER you’ve thawed and drained it, so it will likely be more than 4 oz while still frozen. Combine the spinach with the eggs and oil in a bowl.

Place 3 cups of flour in a mound on either a cutting board or just on your countertop. Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour your spinach egg mixture into the well. Using a fork, slowly mix in flour from the inside of the well, using your hand to continue to fortify the outside of the well. When most of the flour is incorporated and you are able to pull everything together into a mass, move any excess flour to the side (except enough to ensure the dough doesn’t stick to your surface) and begin to knead the dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and springs back almost immediately when you poke it. 8-10 minutes is roughly how long it should take, but don’t be afraid to continue kneading for longer if your dough isn’t yet as described above. Wrap the dough loosely in plastic wrap and allow it to sit for at least a half an hour.

I very luckily had the use of Elaine’s Kitchen Aid mixer and pasta roller attachments. Using the mixer, I rolled the pasta out into long strips until it was very thin – I went up to the #6 setting on the roller.

Cook pasta strips (in batches) in salted, boiling water. Rinse with cool water if not using right away so that they don’t stick together and set aside.