Wanna hear a secret? Come here. Closer. Shh....don't tell anyone, but lasagna isn't really that hard to make. I know, right? Everyone makes such a big deal about it. Should you boil the noodles first and burn your fingers? Or buy the "oven-ready" noodles and get a funny texture? Wanna know what I do? Neither. I use regular, plain lasagna noodles, but I don't boil them before I bake up my casserole. And every time, they come out perfectly, tender and able to hold together layers of cheese and sauce, and this time some Swiss chard. The method for this lasagna is the same I've been using for years, with the addition of some sauteed Swiss chard, which can be completely eliminated or replaced with spinach, kale, or whatever you fancy. The result is a cheesy, creamy, filling lasagna that is perfect for a crowd. The Swiss chard adds a bit of freshness and a different flavor element that's a bit spicy and a touch of spring.
I don't pretend to know a lot about Italian food. Heck, I'm Polish and Irish, so I've got my own funny way of dealing with ethnic flavors. Which I probably why I err to the side of baking. But I enjoy lasagna and this is a recipe my Mom taught me. Since it's easy and tasty, I make it often, including as a go-to sympathy dish or for new parents. But when faced with a bunch of Swiss chard and no idea what to do with it, the idea of adding it to a lasagna seemed like the best way to try it out. Julie from The Little Kitchen gave me the inspiration for how to best saute Swiss chard for pasta and it turned out pretty well. I make my own marinara sauce, but you should feel free to use any pasta sauce you like. Mozzarella is my cheese of choice, but you can sub that for your favorite shredded variety. And since you don't have to boil the noodles and play around with them, this lasagna comes together in simple layers. Seriously, this could change your life. Or at least the frequency in which you serve lasagna.
Vegetarian Lasagna with Swiss Chard
4-5 leaves Swiss chard
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
20 ounces marinara sauce, divided
12 ounces ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 8 ounce package lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup water
Chop Swiss chard, rinse and either pat dry or spin in a salad spinner to dry.
Add butter and olive oil to a non-stick skillet and turn on heat to medium. Add Swiss chard and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 2 to 4 minutes, or when the Swiss chard has cooked down.
Allow Swiss chard to cool slightly. While it cools, combine 2 Tablespoons marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, egg, salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisking with a fork.
Spread 2-3 Tablespoons marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Layer 4-5 dry lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan lengthwise, slightly overlapping the edges. Spread about a third of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, then spread a layer of marinara sauce on top of the ricotta mixture. Layer on about a third of the Swiss chard, then top with about a third of the mozzarella cheese.
Repeat layers, starting with the lasagna noodles, overlapping in the opposite direction, until ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of mozzarella.
Carefully pour water all along the edges of the pan, then cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until cheese is gently browned.
Allow to set for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with additional marinara sauce, crusty bread and a salad.
Makes 12 servings.
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