Wanted in Rome recipe: Sausage and Broccoli Lasagne

Lasagne made with the classic Roman combination of broccoli e salsiccia.

By Kate Zagorski
Some ingredients go together so well that they can work in any form. The classic Roman combo of 'broccoli e salsiccia' is one such pairing. Whether on a pizza, thrown together with pasta or simply fried together in a pan, the contrast of hearty sausage meat and garlicky greens always seems to satisfy.
This recipe revisits this idea but in lasagne form, taking the concept of a lasagne in bianco (without tomato) to fully celebrate the sausage and broccoli flavours. The addition of bechamel and mozzarella makes this a filling, comforting dish which will warm you up on a winter's day.
This recipe is a great vehicle for the pointy romanesco broccoli so abundant at this time of year, and which gives a delightfully sweet, nutty tang to the dish, but you could also use the darker broccolo siciliano for a similar result. If possible use thin, fresh pasta sheets which do not need pre-cooking but if you only have dried or thicker lasagne sheets to hand (or prefer a less al dente taste) boil them for a couple of minutes in the leftover broccoli water to soften them slightly. If you prefer you can make your own bechamel but the shop-bought besciamella works perfectly fine for this recipe, as well as saving time and washing up!
Serves 6
8-10 sheets of lasagne
1 medium-sized head of broccoli
4 pork sausages
500ml bechamel sauce
3 x 125g balls of mozzarella, cut into 1cm cubes
50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
2 dried red chillis, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cut the broccoli into small florets and cook in salted boiling water until just beginning to soften.
Add a generous splash of olive oil to a frying pan, add the garlic, chilli and a little salt then cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes to infuse the oil. Be careful not to brown the garlic.
Drain the broccoli and add to the frying pan. Toss it well in the oil and cook for about 5 minutes over a medium flame until it is soft and has absorbed the flavours. Set aside and leave to cool a little.
Cut the mozzarella balls into cubes of about 1cm.
Squeeze the uncooked sausage meat out of its casing and tear into small pieces.
Now begin to compile the lasagne. Spread a little bechamel sauce on the base of a baking dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets on top and then spread more bechamel over the top before adding half of the broccoli mixture and half of the sausage meat distributed evenly. Add a third of the mozzarella cubes in between the pieces of broccoli and sausage, drizzle with a bit more bechamel and then cover with another layer of pasta sheets and repeat the whole procedure.
Add a final layer of lasagne sheets and cover with the remaining bechamel and mozzarella. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and season the top with salt and black pepper.
At this point you can cover the lasagne and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
To cook the lasagne pre-heat the oven to 180°C and then bake for about 30 minutes until the cheese has melted and the top is golden and crispy.

Kate Zagorski has lived in Italy since 2000. Married to a food-obsessed Roman chef, she leads food tours and also works as a freelance food and travel writer.