This meatless lasagna was described as a showcase of spring vegetables. The filling was full of asparagus, peas, fresh herbs, greens, and leeks. It was loaded with cheese too, of course. 🙂
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used no-boil noodles. I prepared it the day it was served but it could be prepared up to two days ahead. It can be assembled ahead of time and baked before serving or baked in advance and reheated before serving. Clark notes that the lasagna is easier to slice if it is baked and then reheated.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
For the Béchamel:
4 T unsalted butter (plus additional butter or cooking spray for greasing the pan)
1/3 cup (5 T) all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon fine sea, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced (I used a garlic press)
For the Filling:
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces if thin or 1/2-inch pieces if fat
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)
1 cup combination of soft herbs (parsley, chives, basil, dill), finely chopped, plus more for garnish
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced into half moons and cleaned
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
8 ounces baby spinach or baby greens, like kale or arugula (about 8 cups), chopped if large
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
32 ounces whole-milk ricotta (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
12 ounces dried lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles), or substitute the same amount of no-boil, oven-ready or fresh noodles; all will work
8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn into pieces
To Prepare the Béchamel:
In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
Once melted, add flour and whisk until combined. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until pale golden.
Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, so that the sauce does not clump.
Add the salt, nutmeg and bay leaf. Gently bring to a simmer and let cook for 9 to 12 minutes, whisking often, until the béchamel is thick but still pourable.
Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and grated garlic, and taste, adding more salt if needed. (I used coarse salt.)
To Prepare the Filling & Complete the Dish:
Place a 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let it heat until it thins out, about 30 seconds, then add the asparagus and sauté, shaking the pan, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Season asparagus with salt and pepper, then transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the frozen peas and 2 tablespoons mixed soft herbs.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat until the oil thins out, about 30 seconds, then add the leeks, fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté leeks until tender and golden at the edges, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the spinach and remaining herbs, working in batches if needed, and sauté until the greens are very tender and the pan is very dry, about 10 minutes.
Stir in lemon zest and juice. Taste and add more salt if needed. It should be well seasoned.
Add leek-spinach-herb mixture to a large bowl. Stir in ricotta and 3/4 cup each Parmesan and pecorino (save remaining Parmesan for the top). Taste and add more salt if needed.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.) Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or a little butter.
Remove bay leaf from béchamel, then ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of the baking pan until just covered.
Place as many noodles as will fit on top of the béchamel, breaking or cutting them to fit in one layer.
Ladle a little more béchamel on top of the noodles, covering the surface.
Add half of the ricotta-leek-spinach-herb mixture, spreading evenly, then sprinkle half of the asparagus-pea mixture on top.
Add another layer of noodles, then béchamel, then the remaining ricotta mixture, then the remaining asparagus-pea mixture.
Top with the sliced mozzarella.
Add a third and final layer of noodles (don’t worry if you don’t end up using all of the noodles) and cover with remaining béchamel.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Cover the pan with parchment paper and then foil; place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove parchment and foil. Rotate the pan.
Bake for another 30 minutes on convection or up to 40 minutes in a standard oven, or until golden brown and bubbling on top. Rotate the pan for even browning, if necessary. (If the top is still pale, you can run the lasagna under the broiler for 1 to 3 minutes.)
I could eat broccoli rabe with a side of broccoli rabe- an absolute favorite. My husband could eat pappardelle with a side of pappardelle. 😉 Now you can see why this dish was perfect for our Valentine’s Day dinner! Everyone loved it. ❤
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kristine Kidd. I modified the proportions and method. Fabulous.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 garlic cloves, peeled, flattened
1 large yellow onion, chopped
8 ounces cubed pancetta
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed (I used a mortar & pestle)
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
2 large bunches broccoli rabe (also called rapini; generous 2 pounds), stems sliced 1/2 inch thick, tops cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups water
17.64-ounce (500 g) package dried pappardelle pasta
2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional for serving
1/2 cup raw pine nuts, toasted (@375 degrees for about 5 minutes)
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet, preferably with a lid, over medium heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
Add garlic and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Discard garlic.
Add onion, pancetta, and fennel seeds to skillet; sauté until onion is tender and pancetta begins to brown, about 8 minutes.
Add dried crushed red pepper, then broccoli rabe stems and cook 4 minutes to soften slightly, stirring occasionally.
Stir in broccoli rabe tops, sprinkle with salt, and add 2 cups water. Cover and cook until stems and tops are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid.
Add pasta to skillet with broccoli rabe and stir over low heat to combine, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls to moisten if necessary.
Stir in 2 cups of the cheese. Season to taste with salt and generous amount of pepper.
Transfer to shallow bowls, if desired. (I served it in the pot.) Sprinkle with pine nuts and garnish with additional cheese.
This dish makes creamed spinach the main event rather than a decadent side. This version is actually less indulgent as well. It incorporates milk instead of cream and uses pasta and its starch as a thickener.
The original article actually states that classic creamed spinach isn’t that good. I love creamed spinach! For years, my husband and I used to celebrate his birthday at a steakhouse- the creamed spinach saved me. (I’m not a steak fan!)
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I used loads of fresh greens from my CSA share rather than frozen chopped spinach. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish (with roasted CSA veggies on the side) but it could also be served as a hearty side, of course. Creamy and filling.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
5 cups whole milk, plus more as needed (I added an additional cup of 1% milk)
1 pound stemmed and sliced fresh greens (I used a combination of kale, collard and cauliflower greens) OR 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
2 wide lemon peel strips
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
10 to 12 ounces ditalini, orzo or pearl couscous
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
If using fresh greens, stem, slice, and wash them.
Place the greens in a steamer basket in a large pot (I used a pasta pot); cook until wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Strain the steamed greens to drain as much excess liquid as possible. (I used a ricer for this task.)
Chop the steamed and strained greens; set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
Add the 5 cups milk, chopped greens (or spinach), lemon peel, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, if using, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the greens (or frozen spinach) with your spoon, until the greens have softened and the milk is just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until the pasta is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If it looks dry at any point, add more milk. (I ultimately added an additional cup of milk.) The mixture will continue to thicken as it sits, so it’s okay if the sauce looks a little soupy.
Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, discard the lemon peels, and stir in the Parmesan until melted.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.
This full-flavored weeknight dish was healthy and delicious. The yogurt sauce was an essential element for my family. Any combination of greens could be used in this dish- I used the ingredients that had just arrived in my CSA box. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated sautéed collard greens, bok choy, and leeks. I served the chicken and greens over brown Basmati rice drizzled with pan juices. We also had warm naan on the side. Great.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
For the Chicken:
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 7 thighs)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, finely grated, minced or passed through a press
1 T finely chopped fresh thyme and/or oregano leaves (I used 1/2 T each) (can substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano)
large pinch of red-pepper flakes
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, cut lengthwise into 8 thin wedges
For the Garlicky Greens:
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch of collard greens, ribs removed, halved lengthwise
2 baby bok choy
1-2 leeks (I used 1 1/2 large leeks), sliced into 1/4-inch half moons and soaked
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
large pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 T sherry vinegar
For the Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 cup plain Greek or other strained, thick yogurt (or substitute labneh or sour cream) (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup coarsely grated seedless cucumber, such as Persian or hothouse cucumbers
1 large garlic clove, finely grated, minced or passed through a press
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, parsley, and/or cilantro, for garnish
brown Basmati rice, for serving
warm flatbread, such as naan, for serving, optional
To Prep & Roast the Chicken:
Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with the salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine 4 of the grated garlic cloves, thyme and/or oregano, red-pepper flakes, and olive oil.
Add chicken and lemon wedges, and toss until well coated. (If you want to work ahead, you can refrigerate the chicken for up to 12 hours before roasting.) (I marinated the chicken in the refrigerator for 6 hours prior to cooking.)
To Prep the Greens: Cut the ribbed collards into 1/4-inch ribbons. Slice ribbons in half; set aside. Cut the leafy portion of the bok choy into 1/2-inch ribbons. Rinse and dry the collards and leafy bok choy. Cut the bok choy stems into 1/8-inch pieces, cutting larger pieces in half to make relatively equal-sized pieces. Soak separately from the leafy greens to clean; rinse, dry, and set aside.
Arrange chicken and lemons on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan in a single layer.
Roast until chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 27 to 35 minutes in a standard oven. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
After placing the chicken in the oven, cook the rice, the greens, and make the sauce. (see below)
To Cook the Garlicky Greens:
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high. Add the soaked and strained leeks, sliced garlic, and chopped bok choy stems. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the washed leafy greens, 1 to 2 handfuls at a time, and stir until wilted. Continue until all of the greens have been added to the pan. Cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Season with the sherry vinegar as well as salt and pepper, to taste.
To Make the Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce:
Stir together yogurt, grated cucumber and clove of minced garlic in a small bowl.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Layer the sautéed greens over the rice on a platter or other serving dish.
Top with the roasted chicken. Squeeze roasted lemon wedges all over chicken, and sprinkle with mint/parsley/cilantro and more red-pepper flakes, if desired.
Drizzle some of the accumulated pan juices over the top of everything.
Serve chicken accompanied by cucumber-yogurt sauce and warm flatbread.
My kids love the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Trader Joe’s. (It sells out daily- so they are clearly not alone!) This vegetarian comfort food dish seemed reminiscent enough to be a crowd-pleaser. 😉 I liked that it incorporated leafy greens too.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I modified the method and proportions. I also added a poblano chile, red onion, garlic, and cilantro. Nice.
Yield: Serves 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium or 1/2 large red onion, diced
1 poblano chile, seeded, ribbed, and diced, divided (or 1 jalapeño, sliced into rounds)
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 pound rigatoni, penne, or other tubular pasta
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano), divided
4 packed cups greens (I used 2 cups turnip greens (sliced into 1-inch ribbons) and 2 cups baby spinach)
8 oz (1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size chunks
1/3 cup cilantro or flat-leaf parsley and tender stems, roughly chopped, for garnish
Bring a large covered pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente, 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions. (It should be a little too firm to the bite.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with high sides and a tight-fitting lid (or a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add the diced onion and half of the diced poblano chile, season with salt, and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the cubed squash and season with salt, cumin, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring every minute, until squash becomes browned in spots and feels just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection.)
When the squash is just tender, add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Bring to an active simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft and easily mashable, 10 to 12 minutes.
Turn off the heat, then use the back of a wooden spoon to crush about half of the butternut squash and leave the rest chunky. Season the squash to taste, keeping in mind that salty Parmesan will be added soon.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the remaining 1 cup of reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Stir vigorously to combine.
Stir in the greens one handful at a time until each addition wilts slightly.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, the mozzarella, and the remaining diced poblano chile. Place in the oven and cook until the top is melted and browned in spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
This savory pie gobbled up all of the kale from my CSA box. Kale is more appetizing to my crowd when it’s paired with lots of salty cheese. 🙂 We ate it as a main course with sliced heirloom tomatoes and green salad on the side. It would be wonderful served for brunch or a special lunch too.
This recipe was adapted from The Washington Post, contributed by G. Daniela Galarza. I modified the method and incorporated my CSA purple kale and Toscano kale along with baby spinach. Swiss chard and/or collard greens could also be used in the filling.
The original recipe notes that sheep’s milk feta is traditional in spanakopita but any salty, crumbly or grated cheese such as cojita, chevre, extra-sharp white cheddar, paneer or pecorino would also work. The pie can also be made without the crust as a gluten-free option. Healthy and delicious.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 bunch (about 4 ounces) scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
8 to 10 cups (about 10 ounces) baby spinach (whole) and/or other greens (I used stemmed purple and Toscano kale, sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces phyllo dough, about half a box, defrosted
1 bunch (about 1 heaping cup leaves) fresh dill or parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
6 ounces feta, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, whisked well
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. (I used a 14-inch stainless skillet.)
Add the scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, about 1 minute.
Add the spinach/greens and salt, and cook until the greens wilt, release their liquid, and dry out, about 5 minutes.
Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and let it cool while you prep the other ingredients and prepare the crust.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.)
Brush a 9-inch pie plate with olive oil or coat with cooking spray. (I used a ceramic deep dish pie plate.)
Crumble the feta in a medium bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, black pepper, and chopped herbs. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Unravel the phyllo dough onto a clean, dry work surface. (I cover the stack with damp paper towels, topped with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out.)
Working quickly, gently brush the top sheet of phyllo with some olive oil. There’s no need to oil every spot; the oil will spread as you work. Pick up the first three or four sheets of phyllo in a stack and lay them, oil side up, in the pan, allowing one narrow end to cover the bottom of the pan and the other end to climb up the side of the pie plate and hang over the edge. (I layered the sheets one by one but would group them next time!)
Repeat, brushing the top of the remaining stack of phyllo sheets, and placing the next three or four sheets into the pan, oil side up. Continue oiling and fitting the oiled phyllo into the pie plate, rotating the pan so that the bottom is covered and a roughly even amount of phyllo is hanging over the circumference of the pie plate. This will not look perfect; if the phyllo tears, patch it and keep going. Set the pie plate aside.
Add the chopped herbs, breadcrumbs, feta and black pepper to the cooled spinach, stirring to combine.
Add the eggs, mixing well to combine.
Pour the filling into the phyllo-lined pie plate and, using your fingers, crinkle the phyllo overhang partially over the top of the pie, leaving a 5- to 6-inch diameter in the center exposed. The more crinkled the top is, the nicer it will look once baked, so don’t worry about making this look neat.
Lightly oil any dry spots of phyllo before baking, if needed.
Bake for 22 to 35 minutes, or until the filling is set and the phyllo is deep brown in places, like the color of an almond skin. Serve hot or at room temperature.
I have a couple dishes to share that are absolutely loaded with greens. This colorful dish could be served as a main but we ate it as a hearty side with grilled mustard chicken thighs and roasted potatoes. I drizzled the potatoes with residual bacon fat (from this dish) prior to roasting- great.
This recipe was adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman, via The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I modified the method and incorporated my CSA beet greens, kale, and collard greens. The original recipe notes that carrots or summer squash can be substituted for the peppers and corn. Easy and delicious.
Yield: Serves 6 as a side
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot or small onion, minced
3 cups corn kernels, from about 4 ears corn (or a combination of corn and diced summer squash)(thawed frozen corn okay)
1/2 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper (or carrot)
pinch red pepper flakes
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
6 to 8 cups de-stemmed greens, like chard or kale, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons (or whole baby spinach, or another tender green)(I used a combination of beet greens, kale, & collard greens)
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Transfer to paper towels to drain; pour off all but a teaspoon of fat from the skillet. (Reserve the bacon fat for another use- such as roasting potatoes!)
Add butter and melt.
Add shallot (and carrot, if using) and adjust heat; vegetables should sizzle, but not scorch. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.
Add greens and cook for about 4 minutes, until beginning to wilt.
Add corn (and/or squash), peppers, and pepper flakes and let sizzle, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Crumble bacon and add to skillet with scallions. Cook together 1 minute and serve hot.