Chard Lasagna

Let’s be honest – is there a more comforting meal than lasagna? We always make a big batch of it when heading up north to go skiing. We’ve learned that when we’ve been out on skis all day, we just want to hit up the sauna and then dig right into dinner – not cook. Thus, half of our car is filled with skiing equipment and the other half jam-packed with containers full of already cooked meals. Lasagna, as mentioned, is always one of them. Other ski trip friendly (and winter friendly!) dishes we return to are curry-laden, thick dals and pasta with lentil bolognese. Hearty, filling, nutrient dense, lots of energy. Those are the key words.

As far as lasagnas, we’ve tried and tested many different variations over the years – root vegetables, leafy greens, red sauce, white sauce, lentils, beans – and come to the conclusion that lasagna almost always comes out pretty amazing (except the time we added thin shaves of rutabaga, thinking we had come up with something brilliant, and it tasted so bitter and… bad). For this one, we’ve headed the late summer/early fall kind of route. The ingredients are very no fuss (and not even that many). Chard aplenty, paired with silky smooth leeks. Our super hero the black lentil, gone decadent together with a traditional béchamel-type sauce. A few layers of lasagna sheets – and you’re all set (almost). On top, you can choose a vegan or vegetarian cheese based on your personal preference. All you have to promise is that you whisk, whisk, whisk away when making the sauce – béchamel sticking to the bottom of your pot makes for a cleanup extraordinaire. That’s all!

För recept på svenska, klicka här: Mangoldlasagne

Serves 6

3 pounds fresh chard (approx. 1 1/2 pounds if already blanched)
1 3/4 cups black lentils, dried (approx. 14 ounces)
1 tablespoon bouillon powder
1-2 leeks, halved and sliced 1/2″ thick (approx. 1 pound)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup cheese of your choice, grated (approx. 4-5 ounces)
9 lasagna sheets
4 tablespoons butter (or oil, if vegan)
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 3/4 cups milk of your choice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
5-6 sprigs each of fresh thyme and oregano
Salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. As the water is boiling, de-stem the chard by breaking of the stem where the leaf starts (the stem running through the leaf is so thin it can be kept). Reserve the stems for another dish (they keep for up to a week in the fridge). Rinse the chard leaves, and when the water is boiling, blanch them for a few minutes. Drain and let cool in a colander, before squeezing out any excessive water using your hands (be careful here, so that you don’t burn yourself). Roughly chop the chard and set aside for later.

Rinse off the lentils and put them in a medium sized pot together with 2 cups of water and the bouillon powder. Bring to a boil, and let simmer (covered) over low heat for about 30 min, or until cooked through but with a slight bite still remaining. While lentils are cooking, set the oven to 400°F. Then, heat up a splash of canola or olive oil in a pan over low heat and sauté the leeks and a pinch of salt until soft, approx. 10 min. Stir often to prevent any burning. Add garlic and continue cooking for another minute or so, before stirring in the chard. Break up any clumps of greens and make sure the ingredients mix well. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir. Turn off the heat after 2-3 min and set aside.

Finely chop the herbs. In a medium sized pot, melt the butter (or add the oil) over medium heat and then whisk in the flour. Continue whisking until you have nice ‘paste’, and then start adding in the milk, little by little. Whisk constantly until all the milk has been added, and keep at it for another 10 min or until the consistency has turned thicker and quite creamy. Remove from the heat, add spices and salt to taste (approx. 1-1 1/2 teaspoon salt), and stir in the fresh herbs. When the lentils are done (there should be no water left in the pot), add these to the white sauce and stir it all together. The color of your beautiful béchamel will go from pearl white to grey-ish, but fear not – once in between layers no one will notice (and don’t forget all the nutrients the lentils bring to the game here).

Grease an oven-proof dish, roughly 8 by 11″. Spread some lentil sauce at the bottom, followed by some chard-leek mixture sprinkled on top. Place three lasagna sheets across. Repeat two more times, and then finish with a sauce and chard layer. Evenly sprinkle the grated cheese, and bake for 30-35 min or until the top has gotten some nice color.



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