My very first television appearance years ago was for a spot on a local Maryland Public Television show.  I can’t quite remember the name of the show, but I remember what the topic was.  I was to demonstrate how to make lasagna.  During the segment the host noticed that she was doing the work and I was just telling her what to do.  She said “Why am I doing all the work?  You are the Chef!”  I told her simply, “I’ve never made lasagna before!”

After the jaw-dropping moment had passed, I explained that as a single chef, it was hard to have a date cook for me without fearing that it wouldn’t be “good enough” for a chef.  So I would ask if they made lasagna and most often my date had and was glad to make it for me because…. “I had never made lasagna.”  (I never explained that I had made plenty of “Layered Pasta Dishes.”  It’s all in what you call it!)

Those days are long gone and it is with pleasure I can offer this healthy version of Lasagna using a delicious Pumpkin Pasta Sauce and blanched Swiss Chard.  With a trio of delicious Wisconsin cheeses I am sure you will enjoy this as well.

Chard and Tuscany Pumpkin Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (or use no-cook lasagna noodles)
4 cups Béchamel Sauce (recipe follows)
1 jar Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin Sauce
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
1 big bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and blanched*
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Method:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray or grease a 9x13x2 inch baking pan.  Spread about 2/3 cup of Béchamel sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with four of the noodles, overlapping them slightly.  Top the noodles with about ¼ of the jar of sauce and then with ¼ of the ricotta.  Place about a ¼ of the chard on top of that and then another 2/3 cup Béchamel.  Repeat the process ending with Béchamel on top.  Finish with mozzarella and Parmesan.   Bake covered for 25-30 minutes then remove the cover and bake another 20-25 minutes until the cheese has browned and the lasagna is hot and bubbly.  Let cool before serving so the cheese has a chance to set.

*Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the stemmed chard.  Cook about a minute.  Drain, squeeze or spin dry and chop a bit.

[Adapted from a recipe from Cucina Antica Foods.]


Béchamel Sauce

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
Salt and pepper

Method:  Cook the butter and flour in a sauce pot over medium low heat for a minute until smooth and bubbly.  Do not allow the flour to brown.  Off the heat, add a little of the milk and stir well to blend.  Add some more milk stirring, then add all of the milk.  Place back on the heat and bring to a boil, whisking.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook ten minutes, whisking often.  Season with salt and pepper.  Use as desired.

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