Corsican Brocciu Lasagne
This Corsican Brocciu Lasagne is my lazy gourmet way of cooking the Corsican classic dish of Cannelloni au Brocciu.
Using fresh lasagne sheets and piling on the toppings is in the same taste league and it’s so much quicker and less fiddly than stuffing dried cannelloni tubes or rolling up fresh lasagne sheets. Just don’t tell the neighbours in Antoine’s village.
Cannelloni au Brocciu is either served as a starter/entrée or as a main course and is just about on every menu in traditional Corsican restaurants. Although it’s around all year, the Corsican signature cheese, Brocciu, is really only available between November and May-June. If you see it on menus over the summer months, don’t scoff like my Corsican mother-in-law does: you’ll probably be getting a delicious substitute of soft ewe’s milk cheese or ricotta instead.
So, if you can’t find brocciu cheese to make this, don’t worry: a good quality ricotta will do nicely – just add a good pinch of salt to it.
For more about brocciu cheese, see my post on Fiadone, Corsican Brocciu Cheesecake.
As in many Corsican recipes, blette or swiss chard is used. Again, if you can’t get this easily, a good substitute is spinach. I also cheat using fresh lasagne sheets that require no pre-cooking but if you want to make your own pasta from scratch, here’s my recipe for egg pasta, that uses up some yolks so you can make your macarons with the whites!
“I would recognise Corsica with my eyes closed…”
Napoleon Bonaparte was referring to Corsica’s Maquis, the distinctive Mediterranean shrub-land that covers the island, full of wild herbs and flowers that emanate the most incredible fragrance: it’s a mix of woody, smoky notes that can’t be equaled anywhere else in France.
The extra touch that makes all the difference
As with many Corsican dishes, a good amount of herbs are used that are found growing wild in the undergrowth of Corsica’s Maquis or bush. The best tasting I had of this dish was in Rogliano, a tiny village at the most northern point of the “Island of Beauty’s” Cap Corse. It was so simple but the secret was the addition of fresh mint to the swiss chard/spinach filling and, since then, I always add it to this dish. You’ll see: it makes all the difference.
Nepita, a typical Corsican herb from the maquis is also used in Corsican cooking: it’s a mixture of peppermint and oregano and added to tomato ragouts and stews, such as this Veal Stew with Peppers.