Spinach, Chard and Courgette Lasagne

I often like to plan a week’s meals in advance. I’ll sit down with my recipe books, websites and a blank sheet of paper and come up with some ideas of what I’d like to make. Once I’ve pitched a plan to Michael (and he’s agreed to it) I turn my scribbles into a shopping list. Then drag him with me to the local supermarket!

When I was a lot younger the big weekly shop was actually fun – especially when it came to persuading my parents buy whatever took my fancy that week. I didn’t always get my way but it never stopped me trying. Even until recently I loved going to the supermarket. Probably because I could buy what I wanted without being told “no”. Before I met Michael I’d often rock up without a list and see where inspiration took me. It can be fun but it is not a good value way to shop!

More recently I’ve found that joy starting to drift into despair. Part of me wouldn’t be sad if I never went to the supermarket again…

I suspect that it reflects a change in the UK retail market – thanks to the continued growth of the discount chains. Personally, I’m not a fan. I don’t have any issues with the pricing, the quality of their products, their buying and ethics nor how they treat their staff. It’s the experience of actually shopping in a discount store that’s the problem.

Clearly a lot of people can overcome the queues, the odd layouts and the lack of choice, as they’re gaining market share quickly. It’s also made the big supermarkets think about their own business models. Sadly, rather than offering a nice alternative it feels like everyone is in a rush to the bottom. Food shopping has become something of an ordeal, so the time has come to make a few changes.

The trouble is that I don’t really like the idea of doing an online grocery shop. I’ve tried it a few times but within a matter of days I’m back in the aisles because I’d rather see what I’m buying first. I’m sure things have improved but I still don’t quite trust that the pickers and packers will pick or pack the right items.

So, as a bit of a compromise we decided to try getting a veg box delivered and working our meals around that. They tell you in advance what to expect in the box, so it’s not a total lucky dip. If you don’t like it then you can ask to swap it for something else. All sounds good, right?

The only downside, so far, is that they don’t really give you an idea of quantities. Last week we got a nice selection but it included what seemed like a metric tonne of Swiss Chard. I can’t say it’s something I’d ever choose to buy and was a little overwhelmed when I first unpacked it. A little part of me panicked.

I know that steamed or sautéed chard can make for a perfectly lovely accompaniment to many meals, but there are only so many times you can do variations on that theme! I wanted to use it in something that wouldn’t just feel like a bowl of green leaves. As the box also contained courgettes, which I find so inoffensive that I often forget they exist, I wondered whether I could make a vegetable pasta bake of some sort.

Whilst doing some research I found quite a few recipes for variations on the veggie lasagne theme. Some with courgettes, some with squash or pumpkin and plenty with spinach and ricotta. I would never profess to be an expert on chard, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether chard and ricotta would work? In a worst-case scenario I knew I had some spinach left in the fridge so could always use its sweeter flavour to slightly offset the more bitter chard.

That was the chard sorted but what about the courgettes? It seemed rude to leave them in the cupboard… Why we’re at it, why not add in some tomatoes too for a bit more colour and flavour!

You could argue that I got a little carried away by making three different sauces for this lasagne, but I think the result is totally worth the effort. The flavours work really well and even though it contains a decent amount of cheese it retains a remarkable lightness. It’s also flexible as you could change the proportions of the layers quite easily – you could even miss out the chard and only use spinach if you wanted.

I’m really happy with the result. Even Michael, who was ready to put in an emergency Domino’s Pizza order, cleared his plate – you can’t argue with that.

 

Spinach, Chard and Courgette Lasagne

A trio of green vegetables bring a beautiful, earthy flavour to this rich lasagne, whilst the addition of a warmly spiced tomato and pepper sauce keeps it light and fresh.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Pasta, Vegetarian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

for the Courgette Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic peeled and crushed
  • 3 Courgettes grated
  • 10 leaves Basil shredded
  • 25 g Parmesan Cheese (or Vegetarian alternative) grated

for the Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic peeled and crushed
  • 700 g Passata Rustica*
  • 1 Red Pepper deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 1 pinch Sea Salt Flakes
  • 1 pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper

for the Spinach and Chard Sauce

  • 30 g Butter
  • 30 g Flour
  • 400 ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
  • 200 g Spinach washed
  • 200 g Swiss Chard washed, thick stalks removed
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 250 g Ricotta Cheese
  • ½ tsp grated Nutmeg

for the Lasagne

  • 4 Fresh Lasagne Sheets you may need more if you have a larger oven dish
  • 25 g Parmesan Cheese (or Vegetarian alternative) grated

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 190°C

Make the Courgette Sauce

  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and sauté for 10 minutes or so, until softened and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and fry, stirring constantly, for a minute or so until fragrant, followed by the grated courgettes. Fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, then stir through the chopped basil and parmesan. Put to one side until needed.

Make the Tomato Sauce

  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry, stirring constantly, for a minute or so until fragrant. 
  • Add in the passata rustica, chopped red pepper and chilli flakes. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, until thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and put to one side until needed.

Make the Spinach and Chard Sauce

  • Put the spinach and chard into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to wilt for a few minutes, then drain well.
  • Spread the mixture over a clean tea-towel or on some kitchen paper, then squeeze tightly to remove all excess moisture. You want to get this as dry as you can at this stage.
  • When dried, chop the spinach and chard, adding in the dried oregano at the same time. 
  • Make a roux: Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, before adding in the plain flour and stirring until well combined. Cook out the flour for a minute or so. Slowly add in the milk, stirring continuously, until you have a smooth, slightly runny sauce. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Add the spinach and chard mixture to the white sauce, followed by the ricotta and grated nutmeg. Mix well and put to one side until needed.

Assemble the Lasagne

  • Spoon half of the courgette mixture over the bottom of a large oven proof dish. Top this with half of the tomato mixture, followed by a layer of lasagne sheets. Put half of the spinach and chard mixture on top of the lasagne sheets. Then repeat the layers - courgette, followed by tomato, then lasagne and finish with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle over the grated cheese.
  • Put into the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the top is crisp and golden, and the lasagne tender.
  • When cooked allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

Notes:
* - I use Cirio brand Passata Rustica as I like the texture this gives the sauce, but you could use either "normal" passata or tinned chopped tomatoes if you can't find it.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Response

  1. November 12, 2018

    […] was created on the back of the “great Swiss Chard glut” that I mentioned last week (Spinach, Chard and Courgette Lasagne). Though I should point out that when I say “quick” I’m referring to the cooking […]

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