When winter finally leaves, meadows, woods and river banks are filled with a variety of plants, many of which are edible and commonly found on the tables of the cognoscenti who know how to distinguish one from the other. They are lots: think of the dandelion, wild chicory, poppies and many others, often enjoyed simply boiled and then flavoured, sometimes with hot chilli, olives, garlic and other spices, and sometimes used as a main ingredient in other recipes. Today we wanted to use a part of the hop plant known as ‘bruscandoli’ in Italian. These are the shoots of the wild hop plant, a climber which grows spontaneously in the woods of the Veneto region of Italy and much loved in that region’s cuisine. They are used to make risotto and omelettes primarily, but also other kinds of dish such as lasagna, or simply boiled and flavoured with olive oil, salt and lemon. Today, our chef makes a pasta ‘pie’, similar to a lasagna. Truly delicious, especially if you can make the lasagna yourself at home.
You need to get everything ready before starting to make the pasta pie. Start by putting the hop shoots in a bowl, grate the cheese, and make the béchamel. Now for something a bit more difficult: roll out the pasta with the appropriate pasta maker. You need to make the pasta sheets as wide as possible. When you pull the dough through, make sure you have floured the work surface well. Once you’ve pulled all the dough through, boil a pot of salted water and cook each lasagne for 10 seconds, then dunk them in a basin of cold water. Once all the lasagne are cooked, proceed to layer up the pie: in a baking tray start with a very thin layer of béchamel, then add a layer of pasta (which you should cut so that it just fits in the baking tray), another layer of béchamel sauce, a layer of hop shoots, and sprinkling of parmesan. Carry on like this until the pan is full. The last layers should be pasta, béchamel sauce and parmesan. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 180°C and once ready, let it rest for a further 10 minutes so it can cool a little and settle.
Compose the pasta ‘pie’ by layering béchamel, lasagne, béchamel again, hop shoots from the frying pan, parmesan .. and repeat until finished