Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lasagna with Chard, Ricotta and Walnuts

This recipe is based on one from Local Flavors, one of my current favorite cookbooks, with my own minor changes. I didn’t have enough chard so I used half chard, half mustard and collard greens, and while the recipe originally called for fresh mozzarella, due to a shopping list mishap, I ended up using the pre-shredded stuff my husband picked up at the corner store.
The chard actually came from the farm stand at Drumlin Farm, which we visited with friends (shout-out to Katie, founder of the blog), late last week.
This dish has a few special steps that makes it a bit unwieldy for a weeknight dinner, but it can be made in advance or on a weekend. I liked that it’s a pasta dish that’s appealing to children and uses healthy greens, and it’s unique enough that you could make it for guests. A great recipe to have in the repertoire since you can substitute almost any dark and flavorful greens -- basically, whatever looks good at the farmer’s market. For our family of three this made enough for two ample dinners, and the meal held up well as leftovers.
My husband and I both loved the how flavorful the greens and walnuts combination made the dish -- they add a depth that many vegetable lasagnas lack. Our three-year-old daughter picked out the walnuts but ate some of everything else.

1 cup chopped walnuts
salt and pepper
2 to three pounds of chard or other dark, flavorful greens
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more to oil the dish
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup white wine (you can substitute vegetable broth, if you like)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1 8 oz box lasagna noodles, precooked or uncooked, depending on your preference

1. Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and toast the walnuts on a baking pan until they are gold and fragrant, about 7 to ten minutes. Chop finely and set aside.
2. When the water boils, add one tablespoon salt and the chard or other greens. Cook until tender, about five minutes, even if the water doesn’t return to a full boil. Scoop the chard into a colander and press out most of the water. Reserve some of the cooking liquid. Finely chop the greens.
3. Heat the oil in a saute pan and add the garlic and then the greens. Cook over medium high heat, turning frequently, for a few minutes, then add the wine and allow it to cook down. Turn off the heat.
4.Combine the ricotta, parmesan, and about two thirds of the shredded mozzarella in a bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of the cooking water, then add the chard. Mix together and add salt and pepper to taste.
5. If you are using no-boil pasta, you can reheat the remaining chard water to use to soften them. If you are using boiled pasta, bring the chard water back to a boil or use a new pot to cook them. Lightly oil a 8x10 or 9x13 inch baking pan. Drizzle 1/4 cup of milk over the bottom of the pan. It won’t go on evenly because of the oil, but that is all right.
6. Layer the lasagna noodles on the pan, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the milk, a third of the cheese and greens mixture, and 1/4 cup of the walnuts. Repeat twice, then add a fourth layer of noodles and top with the remaining milk, mozzarella and walnuts. Cover with foil and cook at 350 for 35 minutes. Take the foil off for the last ten minutes if you like a crispy top on your mozzarella. Let sit for ten minutes after cooking to set and then cut and serve.


Katie said...

Great picture! You've inspired me to be more artistic with my photography next time. I tend to be suspicious of lasagnas without tomato sauce, but the flavors in that sound great, and we all love walnuts. I'll definitely give it a try.

Lee said...

Do you think I took that pic? I left it to the pro. :)