Say “Yes” to with Swiss Chard Lasagne with Bechamel

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Swiss Chard Lasagne with Bechemel and Hazelnuts

Yes, it’s the first month in a new year and yes you’re looking at a gooey, cheesy, packed with carbs plate of Swiss Chard Lasagne. Yes, I’ve noticed my fellow bloggers and their admirable resolutions concerning food. No grains. No dairy. No this. No that. Yes, I’m supposed to be embracing the latest foodie fads by guzzling green smoothies or chomping the new kale salad (whatever it may be). But frankly, there’s nothing like a good plate of lasagne to ring in a new year. It might just be the perfect comfort food. But screw it up, and we’re talking mushy noodles, soupy sauce, and congealed cheese.

Swiss Chard Lasagne

The thing about lasagne is it’s an open concept so mistakes can be made when cooks try to take shortcuts. However, as long as you keep it good and cheesy and above all honor the noodles you really can’t go too far wrong.

So I say skip the ricotta cheese (it becomes dry and crumbly unless beaten with egg) and nix the no-boil noodles (nobody could accuse no-boil noodles of being texturally interesting). And don’t forget to honor the noodles, if there are less than three layers of them, it’s probably not really lasagne.

Which isn’t to say that there’s no room for a re-interpretation of a cheesy, packed with carbs plate of lasagne. A good cook can take the techniques learned making the classic version and transform even a vegetarian lasagne like this Chard Lasagne into something appropriately decadent. So long as you’re familiar with Bechamel.

BechamelTomato Sauce

Bechamel

Bechamel is made by combining hot milk with a pale roux made from butter and flour. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, it’s a versatile sauce that can serve as the base for – well, this, that, and everything. I bet I could turn a green smoothie into a decent lasagne with a healthy dose of Bechamel.

Bechamel is considered one of the mother sauces of classic French cooking. Add cheese to it (as in this recipe for Chard Lasagne with Hazelnuts) and it technically becomes a Mornay sauce. I was raised on classic French cooking by a Julia Child obsessed mother. As a kid, I knew what Bechamel (and Mornay) sauce was even before I learned the devastating news that baseballs were for boys and Easy-Bake Ovens were for girls.

Yes, because of the Bechamel turned Mornay sauce my Chard Lasagne with Hazelnuts is very rich. It probably won’t work for most people’s New Year’s resolutions list. However, a healthy heaping of Swiss chard and a big scoop of baby spinach makes this lasagne practically the same thing as a green smoothie, right? GREG

PS Lasagne? Or Lasagna? I’ve decided to go with the British spelling because this recipe was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Bechemel and Hazelnuts Swiss Chard Lasagna with Bechemel and Hazelnuts

Lasagne with Chard, Spinach and Hazelnuts

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Adapted from Yotam OttolenghiPublished
Lasagne with Chard, Spinach and Hazelnuts

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Swiss chard (leaves and stems separated, leaves roughly chopped, stems finely sliced)
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • ½ pound baby spinach
  • water (as needed)
  • freshly ground black pepper (as needed)
  • 2 ounce fresh Italian parsley (leaves and stalks roughly chopped)
  • 2 ounce fresh dill (leaves and stalks roughly chopped)
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cup whole milk (gently warmed) plus a splash more if needed
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • cooking spray (as needed)
  • 1 ½ cup good quality tomato sauce (divided)
  • 12 sheets dried lasagne noodles (cooked until al dente and set aside in a single layer on a greased baking sheet)
  • 2 ½ ounce chopped hazelnuts

Directions

Prepare the greens: Heat olive oil in a large pot with a lid set over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems, caraway seeds, and ¼-teaspoon salt. Cook stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add half the chard leaves, cook for one to two minutes, stirring, until they wilt, then add the rest of the leaves and stir until wilted. Add the spinach and another ¼-teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally until well wilted, about 8 minutes. Add a splash or two of water and a couple big grinds of black pepper and turn the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped herbs and season generously with salt. The mix should be a little wet but not at all soupy. Drain off some moisture if needed. Set aside.

Make the Mornay sauce: Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Sprinkle flour over and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until sauce is thickened and no longer feels grainy when rubbed between your fingers, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups grated Parmesan, whisking until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Prepare the lasagne: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl toss the remaining 2 cups grated Parmesan with the grated gruyere. Set aside.

Use cooking spray to lightly coat a 11×13 shallow baking dish. Drizzle ½ cup tomato sauce onto the bottom, swirl the dish to get the bottom well covered. Cover the base, crosswise, with four sheets of al dente lasagne. Drizzle ½ cup of tomato sauce on top, then spread half the greens over the sauce.

Gently reheat the mornay sauce, using a splash or two of milk if necessary to get it moving in the pan. Dollop half the mornay sauce evenly across the greens, then scatter with ⅓ of the grated cheese mixture. Repeat this process with 4 more sheets of pasta, the remaining ½-cup tomato sauce, the remaining greens, the remaining mornay sauce, and half of the remaining grated cheese mixture. Finish by topping the lasagne with the final 4 lasagna sheets and the last of the grated cheese mixture. Sprinkle over the hazelnuts, cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes then remove the foil and finish cooking 15 to 20 more minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 to 20 minutes before serving.