Friday, October 5, 2012

Swiss Chard, Summer Squash, and Mushroom Lasagna

Aside from a fabulous skillet spinach, mushroom, and ricotta lasagna we made while camping in Big Sur, I haven't really had lasagna since I was a kid.  I wanted to make a big Sunday family dinner and after some thought, I settled on making a Swiss chard, summer squash, and mushroom lasagna with béchamel sauce. I used rainbow chard, yellow squash, and patty pan squash from the CSA box and picked up some beautiful, woodsy mushrooms.

The key to a flavorful veggie lasagna is to saute and season each of the vegetables separately so that every morsel is packed with delicious flavors. The Swiss chard is quickly blanched, drained, and chopped and then sauteed with onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper. The summer squash is sauteed with garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Finally, the mushrooms are sauteed with some garlic and nutmeg. The lasagna is filled with each of the veggies, ricotta, fontina cheese, and parmesan and blanketed with a subtly spiced béchamel sauce. The sauce and cheeses make the lasagna fairly rich, but the veggies balance out the texture and rich flavors.

This is a great dish for a casual get together with family or friends because you can do a lot of the prep in advance. For example, I made the vegetables in advance, then prepared the sauce just before assembling the layers. It requires an hour of baking time in the oven, but does not need to be attended to during this time. Be sure to let it stand for about 15 minutes before serving.

Other Swiss chard dishes you might enjoy include:

Swiss Chard, Summer Squash, and Mushroom Lasagna

Béchamel sauce:
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 Turkish bay leaf
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp (scant) ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Swiss chard, sumer squash, and mushroom layers:
1 bunch Swiss chard, center rib and stem cut from each leaf
1 lb summer squash (yellow, patty pan, zucchini), diced
10 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/3 cups chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Coarse kosher salt

9 7 x 3-inch no-boil lasagna noodles
olive oil
1 15 oz container whole-milk ricotta cheese, divided
6 oz fontina Cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups packed), divided
8 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese, divided

For béchamel sauce:
Bring milk and bay leaf to simmer in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk to blend. Cook 2 minutes, whisking almost constantly (do not let roux brown). Gradually whisk milk with bay leaf into roux. Add 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, nutmeg, and cloves and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

For swiss chard and mushroom layers:
In a large heavy skillet, bring 2" water to a boil, then salt. Blanch chard in the boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain, pressing out all water, then chop coarsely. Dry the skillet and heat 1.5 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, half of garlic, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until onion is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in chard and season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat 1.5 tbsp oil over medium- high heat. Add mushrooms and remaining garlic. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Mix in nutmeg and season with coarse salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat 1.5 tbsp oil over medium- high heat in the same skillet. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add squash and thyme, season with coarse salt and pepper, saute until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For lasagna: 
Brush 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish with oil to coat. Spread 3 tbsp béchamel sauce thinly over bottom of dish. Arrange 3 no-boil noodles in dish to cover bottom (2 side by side lengthwise, then 1 crosswise). Spread half of chard mixture over pasta, then half of summer squash, then half of mushrooms. Drop half of ricotta over in dollops and spread in even layer. Sprinkle with half of fontina, then 4 tbsp parmesan; spread 3/4 cup béchamel over. Repeat layering with 3 noodles, remaining chard, summer squash, mushrooms, ricotta, Fontina, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup béchamel. Cover with 3 noodles and remaining béchamel.  Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with foil. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake lasagna covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until heated through and top is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Tip: To test for doneness, insert the blade of a small knife deep into the center of the lasagna for 30 seconds. remove the knife and feel the blade. If it's hot, so is the lasagna.


  1. This looks like it would the perfect thing to serve to friends and family on a weekend night. Thank you for sharing...and for making this cold October morning a little warmer. Have a wonderful week!

  2. Instead of sharing it with friends and family, two people can enjoy it for a few days! I don't think that anyone can get bored of eating this over and over again :)


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