Swiss Chard Lasagna with Ricotta and Mushrooms

Is there anything better than food shopping at the local farmer’s market? Sunday mornings, Tonopah Rob http://tonopahrob.com/ sets up shop a few miles from me, along with several other local food growers and foodies.  Mini-mountains of beautiful multi-colored carrots, the most aromatic display of fresh strawberries a nose could encounter, and piles of just-picked swiss chard.  What to do, what to do…

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Ricotta and Mushrooms

Serves 8

Bechamel

2 1/2C whole milk

1 bay leaf, Turkish if possible

6T unsalted better

1/4 AP flour

1/2t kosher salt

1/2t (scant) ground nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

Swiss chard and mushroom layers

1 pound fresh Swiss Chard, center rib and stem cut from each leaf

4T EVOO

1 1/3C chopped onion

4 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided

1/4t  dried crushed red pepper

kosher salt to taste

1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced

1/4t ground nutmeg

lasagna

9 7″x3″ lasagna noodles, scratch-made if possible

15oz whole milk ricotta, organic if possible

6oz Italian Fontina cheese, coarsely grated, about  11/2C packed, divided

8T finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

For the sauce, bring milk and bay leaf to a simmer in a medium sauce pan, remove from heat. Melt the butter in a medium heave sauce pan, whisk in the flour. Cook 2 minutes, whisking almost constantly….do not brown.  Gradually whisk the milk with bay leaf into the roux. Add 1/2t kosher salt, nutmeg and cloves and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce thickens to the point where it will coat the back of a spoon, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

To prepare the layers,  blanch the chard in a large pot of boiling salted water for one minute then drain, pressing out all the water. Chop coarsely.

Heat 2T of the olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, half the garlic and the crushed red pepper. Saute the onion until tender, 3-4 minutes. Mix in chard, season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and the rest of the garlic. Saute until the mushrooms are browned and tender, 7-8 minutes. Add nutmeg, season with salt and pepper.

Cook the lasagna in a large pot of salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring now and then. Drain well. Arrange noodles on a sheet of plastic wrap.

Brush a 13″x9″x2 baking dish well to coat.  Spread 3T of the bechamel all over the bottom of the dish. Place 3 lasagna noodles in the dish to cover. Spread half the chard mixture over the noodles, then half the mushrooms. Drop half the ricotta in large dollops, spread to cover. Sprinkle with half the Fontina,  4T of the Parmesan, then 3/4C of the  bechamel. Repeat. Top with 3 lasagna noodles and remaining bechamel.

Preheat oven to 400F. Cover with tin foil, bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until heated through and top is browned, 20-30 more minutes. Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.

A nice side salad, fresh loaf of french bread, the right beverage…dinner.

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. I(c) All rights reserved, 2011.

Recipe courtesy bon appetit, january 2011

Chard photo courtesy girl-heros.com

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