After almost a week of concentrating on recipes for St. Patrick’s Day, including Corned Beef and Cabbage, Champ, Irish Soda Bread, Irish Car Bomb Bread Pudding and Baileys Irish Cream Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies (that’s a mouthful!), I thought it was time to turn my attention to something a little more health-conscious.
In this week’s produce box, I found Red Chard, Sweet Potatoes and a Zucchini Squash (along with an assortment of apples, bananas, pears, celery and lettuce). I’ve been thinking all week about what I’m going to make – Red Chard Risotto? Roasted Sweet Potatoes? Raw Zucchini salad? None of it sounded really good to me. I wanted something hearty – a last winter hurrah before spring truly sets in. I settled, finally, on a roasted vegetable lasagna with homemade sweet potato noodles.
1 cup sweet potato puree
3 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1 large zucchini or 1 1/2 small
1 bunch red chard
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 carton ricotta or cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
10 sheets lasagna noodles
Begin by preheating your oven to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick spray. Slice the zucchini about 1/2 an inch thick and lay out in a single layer. Wash the chard and trim the woody stems – place this on the baking sheet next to the zucchini. Sprinkle all veggies with salt and place in the preheated oven. Let roast for about 20 minutes, or until most of the moisture has cooked out.
It should look something like this.
While the veggies are roasting, peel and cube the sweet potatoes (I did a total of 6 small potatoes, but I only used a cup of puree for the lasagna noodles. The remainder of the puree I froze in individual servings for my youngest child, who starts on fruits and veggies next month). Steam them in a stovetop or microwave steamer until tender.
Puree in a food processor with some of the steaming liquid until you achieve a smooth, lump free puree.
For the pasta, place three cups of flour and a tablespoon of salt in a bowl and make a well in the center. Crack two whole eggs in the center of the well and add 1 cup of the puree. Mix everything together with a if fork until you achieve a loose dough. Turn this out onto a well-floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes or so. You probably will have to add quite a bit more flour. Divide pasta into 6 pieces and begin rolling it through the pasta machine on the largest setting. Fold the pasta back onto itself and run it through the largest setting again. Continue doing this on the largest setting 4 or 5 more times. If the pasta begins to stick, add more flour to the surface before running through the machine again. Once you’ve achieve a smooth dough, turn the dial on the machine to the next smallest setting and run through once. Then dial it down again and run through again. Continue until you reach the smallest setting. You may have to cut the sheets in half if they get too long.
Once you rolled out your pasta sheets, cut them into appropriate lengths to fit in your baking pan and lay aside to dry. I cooked mine in boiling water at this point, but I think next time I would skip this step – I don’t think it really made a difference, other than making the sheets difficult to handle because they were hot.
For the lasagna, make a bechemel – melt butter in a saucepan and add two tablespoons flour. Whisk to combine and let the flour cook until it begins to smell nutty. Whisk in the two cups milk (I actually used evaporated milk because that’s all I had). Continue whisking until sauce thickens and is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and grate about 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg into the sauce.
Combine ricotta/cottage cheese with eggs and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper.
To build the lasagna – in a 9×11 baking dish, spoon a little bit of the bechemel in the bottom of the pan. Place noodles on top of this. Spoon cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Place some of the veggies on top of the cheese mixture, spoon some bechemel over these and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top of this. Layer another two noodles, cheese mixture, veggies, bechemel, mozzarella – etc. until you have filled the pan or run out of ingredients.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until brown on top and bubbly around the edges. We served ours with a fresh green salad. Even the 4-year old liked it!