Chard Lasagna (Lasagne alle Bietole)

Unlike other ‘old-fashioned’ vegetables like parsnip that are now in every supermarket, chard is still difficult to find in the Netherlands. As research for this post I googled Italian recipes for lasagne alle bietole and noticed that most recipes use only the green part and add a lot of cheese. To bring out the mild, earthy and slightly sweet flavor of chard as well as the crunchy texture of the stems I decided to do it differently: I made a green sauce with the leaves and included the white stems. The method is very similar to that for asparagus lasagna that I posted recently, so I am not going to repeat all of the steps in detail. The result was very nice indeed.

Ingredients

For a 20 cm (8 inch) square lasagna (4 servings as a main course or 6-8 servings as primo piatto)

1 head of chard of about 900 grams (2 lbs); about 600 grams (1.3 lbs) white and 300 grams (.7 lbs) green

about 750 ml (3 cups) milk

100 grams (2/3 cup) flour

100 grams (7 Tbsp) butter + more for greasing the dish

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

freshly grated nutmeg

fresh pasta dough made with 2 eggs and about 200 grams (1 1/3 cups) of Italian 00 flour, or enough store-bought lasagna sheets for 4 layers of pasta

Instructions

Separate the green and white parts and chop them both.

To preserve as much flavor as possible I vacuum sealed the green and white parts separately with some salt…

…and cooked them sous-vide for 1 hour at 85C/185F. But you could also steam them.

Puree the green part in the food processor, adding the juices from the sous-vide bag of the white part.

Add milk to the pureed greens to end up with 1 litre (4 cups) of liquid.

Make a bechamel sauce with the chard/milk mixture, butter, and flour, according to this method.

Add a dash of freshly grated nutmeg…

…and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Roll out the pasta dough and cut 4 sheets that are slightly smaller than your lasagna dish. Parboil them briefly as shown in the recipe for asparagus lasagna. Store-bought pasta may also need to be parboiled, especially if it’s dry pasta.

Grease a 20 cm (8 inch) square lasagna dish with butter and cover the bottom with a layer of pasta.

Arrange one third of the white part of the chard on top of the pasta.

Cover with one quarter of the green sauce.

Sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Repeat with 2 more layers and then a final layer of pasta covered with green sauce and extra cheese.

Bake the lasagna in the oven at 200C/400F for about half an hour, or until the top is nicely browned.

Flashback

One of my favorite dishes in Taiwan was ‘3 cup’ scallops. The name refers to the sauce, which includes equal amounts of soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. But the star of the dish is the Taiwanese basil, which is known outside of Taiwan as Thai Basil. This type of basil has an anise or licorice type of flavor and is not the same as regular (Italian) basil. It is also not the same as Thai holy basil. The Taiwanese basil works very well with the scallops and the sauce is delicious. The hardest part may be to find the Thai basil. Otherwise, preparing this dish is pretty straightforward and quick.

9 thoughts on “Chard Lasagna (Lasagne alle Bietole)

  1. What a useful recipe for me ! I also cannot always access chard in my local country supermarkets but have learnt that full-grown bok choi, tho’ ‘sweeter,’ works along the same lines. Like the idea. Have not quite made the same way. Shall try, probably as a main, perhaps with a fishy primo piatti . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bok choy certainly looks like chard, but it does have a mild cabbage flavor as well. I remember when I did a chard post before, there were people thinking it was bok choy because of the similarity.
      There is something strange about Italian menu indications, because the “primo” piatto is not actually the first course that is served. You start with appetizers that are called antipasti. Then pasta or rice as a primo piatto (because it is pasta this lasagna would qualify), followed by meat or fish as a secondo piatto, possibly accompanied by one or more contorni (sides). And of course there are dolci after that. So fish before the pasta would be called antipasto. But if it’s a larger portion it would be served after and called secondo.

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      1. Stefan – thanks absolute heaps ! I have been to Italy a dozen times or more . . . always with food-loving partners, but you have here clarified something of which I had not thought. I have eaten like this most of the time . . . perhaps not thought of the terminology correctly . . . and then – I am forever the ‘difficult one’ who would love to taste all the antipasti and the rest can go ‘hang’ 🙂 ! I guess why I love degustation meals so . . . best and thanks . . .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha! glad it is not just me then! I had to look really hard at the picture to make sure this is not Bok Choy. It sure looks like Bok Choy due to the shape of the leaves and the very wide stems. The chard i am used to has thinner stems and slightly more wavy and frilly leaves.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I made an exceptional spinach lasagna recipe recently but my pasta was a lot thinner (i will post it soon!), with many layers, you may have seen it on Facebook. The unusual thing about that recipe was that you made it a day ahead and reheated it the following day in a skillet on its side, crisping the edges of the super thin pasta.
    I love the flavoured béchamel you made for this dish, and the crisp top!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am looking forward to that post. This pasta was quite thin already, the thinnest setting on my Kenwood. I can get it thinner using my hand-cranked pasta maker, but the only thing I know that would be thinner is filo pastry.

      Like

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