Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Mushroom and Rainbow Swiss Chard Lasagna

Rainbow Swiss Chard
This doesn't have the heaviness of a typical tomato and cheese lasagna dish. 

I made a béchamel sauce using lower fat (2%) milk and used a low-fat cream cheese in lieu of the mascarpone cheese that is sometimes found in mushroom lasagna recipes. My farmers market had Portobello mushrooms, beautiful rainbow Swiss chard and freshly made ricotta cheese (I guess the lower-fat milk and low-fat cream cheese were canceled out by the home-made ricotta).  Nonetheless, it was all good.  I made the recipe in a 9x7" glass Pyrex dish versus the 9x13" version.  A spray/drizzle of white truffle oil as the lasagna was resting added an extra treat.

This is a perfect full meal for a meatless Monday...or any day...and could easily serve 4-6 people. The average food cost is about $5.99 per serving.


For the Béchamel Sauce:
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup AP flour
1 1⁄2 cups low-fat (2%) milk
1 cup vegetable broth, preferably home made
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

For the Filling:
6 Tablespoons olive oil 
1 1⁄2 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 small leeks, white parts only (about 1 cup), thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced garlic
4 sprigs thyme
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 cups thinly sliced rainbow Swiss chard leaves
2 1/2 pounds baby Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1⁄3 cup low fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 lasagna noodles, cooked (according to directions on package)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (to coat glass Pyrex dish)
16 oz. ricotta cheese, preferably home made
1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
White truffle oil/spray (optional) for drizzling on top while lasagna is resting


For the Béchamel Sauce:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes; don't let the mixture brown. In another saucepan, warm the low-fat milk.  Slowly add the milk to the pan containing the butter and AP flour, while whisking.  Then add the vegetable broth, continuing whisking until smooth. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is smooth and resembles a thick cream, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; add the nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Cover the surface of the béchamel with waxed paper to prevent a skin from forming.

For the Filling:
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the leeks, garlic, and thyme sprigs and cook, stirring often, until the leeks are soft, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove the thyme sprigs. Stir in the rainbow Swiss chard and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse several times until finely chopped, and then transfer to a large bowl. In another large skillet, heat enough olive oil to coat pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add one-third of the mushrooms (do not crowd mushrooms) and cook, stirring often and seasoning with salt and pepper after mushrooms are half-way cooked, until they are well browned, about 10 minutes. When cooked, put mushrooms in a large bowl and continue to repeat cooking the rest of the mushrooms.

After all of the mushrooms are cooked, place them in a food processor and pulse several times.  They should still have some texture.  When done, transfer the pulsed mushrooms to the bowl with the onion mixture. Add the béchamel sauce, softened cream cheese, and the vinegars and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

To Finish:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil and add salt to taste.  Add the lasagna noodles and cook until tender. Drain.  Add a touch of olive oil to noodles to prevent from sticking.

Butter a 9x7 inch (versus the 9-by-13-inch) glass baking dish. Lay two noodles in the bottom of the dish. Trim to fit, if necessary. Top with one-third of the mushroom filling, one-third of the ricotta, and one-third of the grated cheese. Repeat with the remaining noodles, mushroom filling, ricotta, and grated cheese (there isn't a layer of noodles on the top). Bake the lasagna until the center is very hot and the top is lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly drizzle/spray truffle oil (optional) on top.  Let rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving.

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