Lasagna della Vigilia

(Christmas Eve Lasagna)Chef/Owner Mary Riley, Enzo Restaurant, Newburyport

This is a traditional Piedmontese dish, traditionally served on Christmas Eve.  At the restaurant, we serve this family style; at home it makes a great light supper, served alongside a salad of bitter greens. Do your best to find salt-packed anchovies and use real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; you’ll taste the difference. This is a festival dish, so it is fairly rich with butter and cheese, but if you want a lighter option, you may substitute good quality olive oil for half of the butter.  Our recipe is adapted from a version published in Carol Field’s informative Celebrating Italy.

Serves 4–6

4 ounces unsalted butter
6 salt-packed anchovies, soaked in water for 24 hours, deboned and minced OR ½ can of oil-packed anchovies filets in oil, drained and minced
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 pound fresh lasagna noodles (if fresh pasta is not available, a very thin dried lasagna sheet makes a good substitute; the Barilla brand is a good choice)
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the anchovies and garlic. Warm everything over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (the anchovies will dissolve into the butter).

Cook the pasta al dente in a large pot of boiling salted water. Fresh pasta will need a minute or less to cook through, dried noodles may take as long as ten minutes.

Drain the noodles and gently toss them with the butter mixture in the skillet—be careful as you don’t want to tear the noodles. Sprinkle the cheese over the pasta, adding a little pasta cooking water to keep things “saucy”.

Give the pasta many generous grindings of pepper and sprinkle on the parsley. Gently toss to coat the noodles with these ingredients.

Serve on warmed plates with additional cheese and pepper on the side.