Swiss Chard and Spinach Lasagna

February 10, 2011 § 6 Comments

I made Swiss chard Lasagna for dinner last night. (But it didn’t look this sweaty and unappetizing. Ew.  Any tips for night photography?)   I know.  I’m talking about chard again.  I’ll admit, I’ve been a little obsessed with the stuff since I began this project (see here and here if you don’t believe me) but, honestly, I have to be attentive to things we get from the garden. It just feels ridiculous to let something we have started from seed, rot once it gets to my refrigerator because I can’t come up with a way to use it. So, there I was again…how to use chard in a meal that won’t make people cry around the table.

I found Bon Appetit’s recipe for Lasagna with chard and mushrooms  (after a family member recommended one of their soups) and decided I could just omit the mushrooms and add more greens.  I had a bag of spinach that could fill in for the extra greens and  so, we (my helper and I) were on our way.

I think It came out really well (despite the icky looking photo at the top).  It was rich and decadent, but didn’t feel like overindulgence (I wasn’t so full that I was uncomfortable after eating a decent sized piece).  The Bechamel sauce  (white sauce) in this dish has nutmeg and cloves that give it a sweetly spicy flavor that went well with the creamy ricotta and Fontina cheeses.  Responses from around the table were all positive. I think my oldest daughter even said “I love it”.  It’s shocking, but it happened.  Point.

Swiss Chard and Spinach Lasagna (adapted from BA’s Swiss Chard Lasagna with Ricotta and Mushrooms by Melissa Clark*)

Bechamel Sauce

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Swiss Chard and Spinach Layers
  • 1/2 pound Swiss chard, center rib and stem cut from each leaf
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups chopped onion  (2 smallish)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
lasagna
  • 9 7×3-inch lasagna noodles
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese (preferably organic), divided
  • 6 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, coarsely grated (about 11/2 cups packed), divided
  • 8 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

bechamel sauce

  • Bring milk and bay leaf to simmer in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk to blend. Cook 2 minutes, whisking almost constantly (do not let roux brown). Gradually whisk milk with bay leaf into roux. Add 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, nutmeg, and cloves and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Remove bay leaf.  Béchamel sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill. Remove plastic and rewarm sauce when ready to use, whisking till smooth.

    swiss chard and spinach layers
  • Blanch chard and spinach in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain, pressing out all water, then chop coarsely. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, half of garlic, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until onion is tender, 5 minutes. Mix in chard and spinach and season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and remaining garlic. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Mix in nutmeg and season with coarse salt and pepper.
    lasagna
  • Cook noodles in medium pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; put cool water, just enough to keep the noodles from sticking, into the pot and add noodles back in.
  • Brush 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with oil to coat. Spread 3 tablespoons béchamel sauce thinly over bottom of dish. Arrange 3 noodles in dish to cover bottom.  Spread half of chard mixture over pasta.  Drop half of ricotta over in dollops and spread in even layer. Sprinkle with half of Fontina, then 4 tablespoons Parmesan; spread 3/4 cup béchamel over. Repeat layering with 3 noodles, remaining chard and ricotta, more Fontina and Parmesan.  make one more layer with noodles, bechamel, and topped with the remaining cheese.  Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with foil. Let stand at room temperature  2 hours  (or place in the refrigerator overnight).
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake lasagna covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until heated through and top is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before
    Melissa Clark is a collaborator on many cookbooks, food writer for the New York Times,  and has her own book that I’m hoping will be my next library find.
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§ 6 Responses to Swiss Chard and Spinach Lasagna

  • Susan says:

    i’m going to bring you a lamp next time i come over. i think the solution to your night photography is to get some (non-yellow) light in your house!!

  • MBHeim says:

    I know what you mean about feeling bad if you don’t use what is in your garden. Jeff-the-hunter has quite the collection of venison in our freezer(s). What’s a girl to do with venison (besides meatballs and jerky!)?

  • Monica says:

    Michelle,
    ooh. That is a conundrum. We actually have some venison in our freezer, too (someone gave us part of their buck) I just can’t eat it…It’s so…bloody tasting. maybe I should try a stew and see what happens. If Esau wanted it badly enough to give up his birthright, maybe it’s good. keep you posted.

  • kathy says:

    um…..that looks like a lot of effort. impressive for a week night dinner, i must say!

    • Monica says:

      Kathy, My mom always made lasagna and I would help her…I think that’s why it’s not a big deal for me to make it…plus, I made it ahead of time so I could just heat it up for dinner. I feel so smart when I do that! :)

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