At the beginning of farmers’ market season, I am guilty of impulse buys. I suppose I am just so excited that the growing season is finally in full swing that I get a little carried away. Case in point, I had been staring at a bunch of gorgeous rainbow chard and a head of cauliflower since my weekend trip to the market, trying to plan their fate before I left town and would be forced to give them away or toss them. Inspired by a recipe I saw for a cauliflower “alfredo,” it came to me – lasagna. Incorporating cauliflower into the filling not only adds more vegetables to the dish, but can flat out replace the cheese if you are looking to make it dairy free or lighten it up. Even I was a little weary at first, as I love me some cheese. Lo and behold, this one was a winner! Of course, you can mix some cheese into it if you want to, but you might not notice it’s gone, and even appreciate how light this lasagna is!
Spring Veggie Lasagna
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 spring onions, diced
1 bunch Swiss Chard (about 4 cups), chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 head cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (for a vegan variation, use nutritional yeast)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup ricotta cheese (optional)
1 box uncooked whole wheat or oven-ready lasagna noodles (bonus points if you make your own pasta!)
1-2 cups tomato sauce of choice
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet or sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add chard and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until wilted. Season with oregano. Set mixture aside.
Bring 6 cups water to a boil and season with salt. Cook for about 8 minutes until soft. With the salted water, remove cauliflower and place in a food processor. Add butter, parmesan, ricotta (if desired), and garlic powder and pulse on high until smooth, using 2-4 tablespoons of reserved water to thin to desired texture – which should mimic ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a 9×13 baking pan, spread tomato sauce to coat bottom. Double-layer lasagna noodles. Spoon and evenly layer cauliflower mixture, followed by the sautéed chard. Top with lasagna noodles and completely cover with tomato sauce, followed by cauliflower and chard. Repeat once more, until top layer is tomato sauce coated pasta. Top with additional parmesan or Italian seasoning if desired. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Enjoy and have a delicious weekend!
Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!