Chard and Pancetta Lasagna with Sage

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Chard Pancetta Lasagna

A Decadent Lasagna

Swiss Chard

“The wind whistled over the settlements in the afternoon, and the farmers began to set out mile-long windbreaks of eucalyptus to keep the plowed topsoil from blowing away. And this is about the way the Salinas Valley was when my grandfather brought his wife and settled in the foothills to the east of King City.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

Swiss Chard

Growing a summer vegetable garden is something I always want to do. I give it a try and usually have more fails than wins. Tomatoes are always a priority, but between the summer fog and our mostly shaded backyard thriving is random. Still, I’ve planted three tomato plants again this spring, Sun Gold, Celebrity and Giant Red Cherry. (I’ve given up on Early Girl.) We’re trying a different spot, but 6-8 hours of direct sun is more of a desire than a reality. Herbs do thrive. I’m thankful for parsley, thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary. The best part of last summer’s vegetable garden was the Swiss chard. I planted a six-pack of plants that faithfully gave dinner worthy chard for an entire year. I even forgot about them during this year’s rain. Now they are bolting, going to seed. Before I say goodbye I’m harvesting the tender leaves that are growing along the stalks for salad greens and sharing this recipe from the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen for Chard and Pancetta Lasagna with Sage.

Chard Pancetta filling for Lasagna

If you like Swiss chard this is a recipe to try, if you could care less about chard but like lasagna (and think about adding more greens to your diet) this is a recipe to try. Or if you have an abundance of chard and another serving of sautéed greens is stifling, you must make this recipe. However, this is a lasagna recipe, the healthy part is the chard and onion, after that we’re talking cheese, béchamel and noodles. Oh, and pancetta! Not too much, just enough to add that wow flavor that makes this recipe irresistible.

Essentials

The original recipe is made in a large cast iron skillet. This makes a beautiful, huge lasagna. I went another direction, making two smaller pans of lasagna. One pan for dinner and another to freeze or give away. To accommodate two pans, more béchamel is needed. The recipe below is for making two separate lasagnas, in 8” or 9” square pans (or oblong pans or the equivalent size of pans).

Chard Pancetta Lasagna

Williams and Sonoma recipes can be a bit fussy with lots of dirty bowls and extra steps. After making the recipe several times I’ve simplified it a bit. Use already diced pancetta that can be cooked quickly instead of razor thin slices that must be cooked in batches. I buy a huge two pound block of mozzarella cheese at the big box store, grate the entire block of cheese in the food processor and then freeze what I don’t use for later. The original recipe calls for fried sage as a garnish for the finished lasagna. That’s a bit too much when we already have a creamy, cheesy lasagna, and it’s another messy thing to do. One step that helps the recipe along is soaking the no-boil noodles in hot water before assembling the lasagna. It works wonders for the texture of the lasagna noodles.

Sage

Ricotta Filling
2C/1 lb ricotta cheese
1 egg
2T minced, fresh sage
2C/8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2T milk
1/4t fine grain sea salt
Chard Pancetta Filling
8 oz minced pancetta
1 yellow onion, diced
2 bunches Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped
Béchamel
8T/4oz unsalted butter
3/4C all-purpose flour
3C milk
1/4t fine grain sea salt
To assemble the Lasagna
1 pkg no-boil lasagna noodles, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
1-1/4C/5oz shredded mozzarella cheese
12 fresh sage leaves

Chard Pancetta Lasagna

  1. Heat the oven to 350°. To make two pans of lasagna, grease two, oven proof pans, either 8” or 9” square or oblong or the equivalent in size.
  2. Make the ricotta filling by mixing together the ricotta, egg, sage, mozzarella, milk and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the diced pancetta until crisp and browned and most of the fat is rendered out. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened. Remove the onion from the pan and place in a large bowl. Working in batches, add the chard to the skillet, stirring frequently, until the chard is wilted. As the chard cooks transfer it to the bowl with the cooked onions. Add the pancetta to the bowl and mix the filling together.
  4. In a large saucepan, pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, stir in the salt. Using half of the béchamel, spread the sauce in an even layer in the bottom of the pans, dividing it between the two lasagnas.
  5. To assemble the lasagna, arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce, overlap the noodles a bit if needed. Spread a third of the pancetta mixture in an even layer on top, then a third of the ricotta mixture. Repeat the layers two more times: noodles, pancetta mixture, ricotta mixture. Add another layer of noodles and cover with the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining grated mozzarella. Garnish with a few fresh sage leaves.
  6. Bake until the noodles are tender and the lasagna is lightly browned and bubbly, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional sage leaves and serve hot.
  7. The second lasagna can be refrigerated for baking within 48 hours of preparation or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for baking later. Before baking, defrost in the frozen lasagna in the refrigerator overnight.

Swiss Chard

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16 Responses to Chard and Pancetta Lasagna with Sage

  1. Yi says:

    Nothing beats a hearty homemade lasagna filled with fresh vegetables! Having a vegetable garden has always been my dream but living in an urban apartment means I have to settle with a small herb garden in my balcony. Not complaining though but still hoping one day I’ll own a garden and grow some fresh veggies. Thanks for sharing your recipe and the garden!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Yi! I know how fortunate I am to have space and time to garden. I just long for ripe tomatoes and lush melons!

  2. We’re growing tomatoes in pots this year (so we can move them around to the sunny spots) and just planting herbs in among the flowers. Only veggie we’re growing is chard — love the stuff, and it always does well. And the rabbits don’t eat too much of it. 🙂 Anyway, terrific recipe! Tons of flavor, and a good way to use Swiss chard. Thanks!

  3. So comforting and delish.bwishi ng you a Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. Your lasagna looks irresistible and your photos are stunning. Thank you for for this beautiful post.

  5. True confessions Deb. I’ve never eaten Swiss chard! Pretty unbelievable, right? I think it’s about time. This creamy, cheesy, lasagna seems like a tasty place to take the leap. I’m also about to take a leap into back yard gardening. I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb. I’ve attempted container tomato plants in the past without much success. But just like you, I remain determined.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Mary! I’m not sure how I got started on chard, but the baby leaves are wonderful in salads and the larger leaves make for fabulous cooked greens. Happy gardening!

  6. I love this take on lasagna – the combination of pancetta and sage with your incredible béchamel is simply irresistible!

  7. This is very nice way to use the hearty green vegetables into a gourmet dish. Sounds very delicious!

  8. mjskit says:

    You make a gorgeous lasagne!! And I LOVE the pancetta and chard and who doesn’t love sage. Beautiful and oh so delicious!

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