Sausage, chard, Asiago, and lemon lasagna

March 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I kind of have a thing for Martha Stewart’s craft/cooking/gardening empire. Perhaps it’s because I know she loves cats (that always helps win my affection), but mainly I think I just like her attitude that first and foremost, she’s a teacher…with like a million bajillion dollars and many minions who probably jump ten feet anytime she’s nearby, but there you go.

Anyway, while drooling over the lovely pictures of plants and container gardens and landscaping tips in the March 2011 issue, never mind that my only gardening success ever was sprouting grapefruit trees from seeds (they’re still alive, yay! and we won’t talk about how many herb plants I’ve killed…), a recipe for Swiss chard, sausage, and lemon lasagna caught my eye.



As it includes Swiss chard, one of my favorite vegetables ever due to its slightly bitter edge, I was definitely interested in cooking, and let’s be honest, eating it. However, more intriguingly, thinly sliced and boiled lemons are added to the lasagna during assembly, and that was the clincher. Lemon in lasagna? It’s one of those bizarre ideas that I figured would either be extremely delicious, or a horrific disaster the likes of which hasn’t been seen in my kitchen since the other week when I tried to bake cookies with twice the amount of butter than necessary.



So, with some blushing due to my previous gaffe and assiduous measuring, I decided to make a few changes while still maintaining the spirit of the original recipe. I much prefer spicy Italian sausage to sweet Italian sausage, so that was an easy swap. To stand up to the heat added by the sausages I swapped Parmesan for the gutsier Asiago cheese. I also used two percent milk, and thankfully my béchamel sauce was as creamy and delicious as one would hope, but without too much heaviness, a trait for which many lasagnas are criticized, keeping in mind that I also didn’t want to overwhelm the unique taste of Swiss chard. Of course, you could certainly swap back to whole milk if that’s what you prefer.

Surprisingly, for a dish with such complex and complementary flavors, this lasagna is quite easy to assemble and would be right at home both at a weeknight dinner or even a dinner party; the lemons, aside from adding a refreshing citrus twist, also make the lasagna look rather fancy. Plus, it’s hearty and rich enough that it is still suitable for those of us stuck in the late-winter doldrums, but with enough healthy greens to remind us that spring is really, truly going to arrive…any day now, right?

Whether this spring will include my growing anything as successfully as in the magazine’s pictures, is, of course, another matter entirely!

Sausage, chard, Asiago, and lemon lasagna

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Serves four to six

Ingredients

  • Five cups chopped Swiss chard (from one bunch)
  • One organic lemon, very thinly sliced
  • Three tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Three cups 2% milk
  • One cup grated Asiago cheese (about four ounces)
  • Salt and pepper
  • One pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed if necessary
  • 1/4-1/3 pounds dried no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Mueller’s; see note)

1. Wash and slice the Swiss chard. Spin dry or blot to remove excess moisture; set aside. Thinly slice the lemon, discarding the ends with excess pith — you may wish to use a mandolin instead to get the slices thin enough (I struggled with my terrible knife).

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, stir in flour and cook for two to three minutes, whisking to remove lumps. Slowly pour in the milk while stirring. Once the mixture has reached a boil, immediately reduce the heat and simmer for one minute or until mixture thickens. Turn off the heat and place milk mixture (béchamel) aside. Stir in 3/4 of the grated Asiago cheese, a large pinch of salt, and grind in some pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste). Then, stir in the chopped Swiss chard and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large skillet, cook sausage until browned; drain away any excess oil and discard. Set sausage aside.

4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, cover the lemon slices with about a cup of water, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about seven minutes or so. Drain away the water and set lemon slices aside.

5. In an eight-inch square baking dish, spoon in a thin layer of the chard/cheese mixture. Place in a layer of lasagna noodles. Layer in half the sausage, topping with 3/4 cup chard/cheese mixture. Top with another layer of noodles, the remaining sausage, and 3/4 cup chard/cheese mixture. Lay half the lemon slices over top the chard/cheese mixture. Top with another layer of noodles, the remaining chard/cheese mixture, and the other half of the lemon slices.

6. Cut a piece of parchment paper and a piece of foil to cover the lasagna pan. First, cover with the parchment and then with the foil. Bake the lasagna, covered, for 55-60 minutes (see note).

7. Carefully remove the lasagna from the oven and remove the parchment-and-foil lid. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup Asiago cheese. Return the lasagna to the oven and bake an additional five minutes, or until the Asiago cheese on top is melted. (Or use a broiler and broil for two to three minutes, again until the Asiago cheese on top is melted.)

8. Let the lasagna cool for about ten minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Note: I used Mueller no-boil lasagna noodles, which require 55 minutes of baking time. If you use a different brand (the original recipe specified Barilla), your cooking time may vary; Barilla noodles only need 25-30 minutes in step 6.

Lasagna can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days, as well as frozen for up to one month. Bake in the oven to reheat, though in a pinch the microwave works too.

Bibliography

—. “Sausage, chard, and lemon lasagna.” Martha Stewart Living. March 2011: 164-165 (recipe card insert). Print.

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