A good lasagne has small amounts of filling between numerous layers of pasta, adding to the texture and flavour. This may seem like a faff to make, however it can be done in advance and is easier than a meat lasagne. There is a lot of room for alternatives too, depending on what is available – you could try kale, beetroot tops or some other brassicas.
This recipe originally appeared in House & Garden magazine, photo courtesy of Helen Cathcart
- 650g broccoli
- 1kg mixed chard and spinach
- 4tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 leek, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- Butter, for greasing
- 15 lasagne sheets
- 200g parmesan, grated
For the béchamel
- 700ml milk
- Bay leaf
- 50g butter
- 4tbsp flour
- Few grates of nutmeg
- ½tsp cayenne pepper
- Cut the broccoli into small florets. Strip the chard and spinach from the stalks and keep the leaves. Fill your largest pan with water (about 5 litres) and add 1tbsp sea salt. Bring to the boil and cook the broccoli for about 4 minutes, or until completely tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and lay flat on a tray to cool while you cook the green leaves. Cook these for 2-3 minutes, remove, drain and lay on a tray to cool. Keep the pan full of water for later use.
- Heat 2tbsp oil in large pan and sweat the onion and leek, with a good pinch of salt, until soft but not coloured, for about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli, more salt and some pepper, and stir well. Fry for a minute, then tip into a food processor and blitz briefly to make a semi-smooth but still chunky mixture. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. You will use the food processor again, so do not wash it up.
- In the same frying pan, heat the remaining 2tbsp oil and fry the garlic and fennel seeds until the garlic begins to brown. Add the cooked leaves, with salt and pepper, and fry for a minute. Briefly blitz in the food processor, then add to the bowl and stir.
- For the béchamel, put the milk and bay leaf in a pan and heat to just below boiling. In another pan melt 50g butter, add the flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute, then add all the milk, stirring briskly. Bring to the boil, stirring. Add the nutmeg, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/mark 3. Boil the pasta sheets in the greens water until al dente (following the packet instructions) and drain, leaving just enough water to stop them sticking together. Butter a 30 x 20cm baking dish. Cover the base with a layer of pasta, dot with vegetables, pour over a ladle of béchamel, season and scatter over 2tbsp parmesan. Repeat for another four layers and for the fifth layer spread with béchamel and parmesan only. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.