Meatless Monday Recipe (on Tuesday): Green Lasagna with Greens

Meatless Monday Recipe (on Tuesday): Green Lasagna with Greens

Michele Berger
Published: 07/05/2011

Chard (Photo: Meganpru, Flickr Creative Commons)

We hope everyone had a relaxing July 4th! Even though today’s Tuesday, we thought we’d continue our Meatless Monday virtual cookbook with a recipe from Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine. As the name suggests, it calls for a ton of greens, so it’s a great way to use up some of the extra veggies from your CSA. If you’re up for a challenge, try making the pasta from scratch!

Green Lasagna with Greens

David Tanis, Chez Panisse
Berkeley, California

For this lasagna, I add puréed raw greens to the pasta dough and use cooked greens for the filling. I have a habit of saving greens: the outer leaves of escarole and curly endive, radish tops, young turnip tips, and oversized (or any size) arugula. All of these can be combined with spinach or chard and wilted together with olive oil, garlic, and a touch of hot pepper, then chopped roughly for a filling for lasagna or ravioli.

Note: According to the chef, you can sub stinging nettles for half or all of the greens. To do so, blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds to remove sting. Squeeze out excess moisture and use like domestic greens. Also, to make the pasta dough, you’ll need a pasta machine.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients
PASTA
2 cups shredded raw greens (mixture of chard and spinach)
2 small eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING
3 T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 lbs chopped washed greens (mixture of chard, spinach, and broccoli rabe)
Salt and pepper
1 lb fresh ricotta
Grated zest of 1/2 a lemon

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
4 T butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
Salt and pepper
Nutmeg, for grating
2 cups grated Parmesan, for assembly

Directions
1. To make the pasta dough, put the shredded greens, eggs, salt, and olive oil in a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Scrape the green puree into a mixing bowl, and add the flour. Knead into a soft dough. If the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle with a little more flour and knead some more. Wrap the dough in plastic and set it aside to rest.

2. For the filling, heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan over a medium-high flame. Add the garlic and sizzle, without browning. Add the red pepper flakes, then add the greens. Stir well and let the greens wilt for a minute. Season with salt and pepper and stir again.

3. Drain the wilted greens in a colander. When the greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze them to remove any excess liquid. Set them aside.

4. In a bowl, combine ricotta and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well.

5. For the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium flame. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring for a minute without letting the mixture brown. Whisk in the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, letting the sauce thicken after each addition. When all the milk has been added, add the bay leaf and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.

6. Turn the flame to low, and let the sauce cook gently for 10 minutes. Thin if necessary with a little more milk. Grate in some nutmeg. Check the seasoning and adjust. Strain the sauce into a double boiler and keep warm.

7. Butter a large 8x12 baking dish. Have a large pot of salted boiling water on the stove and a large bowl of cold water nearby.

8. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin sheet with a pasta machine at its next-to-thinnest setting, placing the pieces on a floured counter as you work. Cut the sheets into 8-inch-long pieces. Leave the pasta sheets uncovered on the floured counter.

9. To assemble the lasagna, boil two sheets of pasta at a time so they cook evenly and don’t stick together. Cook the sheets as you go, for 1 minute or less, leaving them quite al dente. Plunge them immediately in the cold water to stop the cooking, then blot on a kitchen towel.

10. For the first layer, lay 2 pasta sheets side by side in the bottom of the dish. Arrange 1/4 of the cooked greens over the pasta. Dot the greens with 1/4 of the ricotta. Spoon 1/2 cup béchamel sauce over the ricotta, and sprinkle with about 2 T of Parmesan. Repeat the process to make 3 more layers. Finish with 2 or 3 sheets of pasta on top, coat with the remaining béchamel, and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan.

11. Refrigerate the assembled lasagna for several hours or overnight to marry the flavors. Bring to room temperature before baking.

12. Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes until bubbling and lightly brown on top. Let rest before serving.