Martha Stewart Living (April 2012)
If you're a big fan of traditional lasagna, there's a recipe in this month's Martha Stewart Living that may seem like sacrilege.
As part of a feature on how to incorporate more kale and other greens into your diet, this Escarole, Kale, White Bean and Tomato Lasagna is billed a healthy take on the Italian classic.
We had to know: Can a lasagna that uses no noodles, no meat, no bechamel and no ricotta be a good stand-in for traditional lasagna?
We say yes!
And, well, also no.
Let's get the "no" part out of the way. If you make this dish expecting an honest-to-goodness lasagna, you will be disappointed. End of story. The only things this has in common with lasagna are tomatoes and cheese (and as we said, it's not even the ricotta you'd find in a classic lasagna).
So let's all just agree to call this a casserole.
Still, as a healthy take on lasagna, we think this is pretty great. (In case you're wanting to know, "healthy" in this case is 279 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat per serving; it's an 8 serving dish.)
It's definitely a filling meal. The greens and tomatoes are substantial. An an oregano-spiked white bean puree -- that stands in for the missing ricotta -- brings a nice creaminess to the dish. And on top, an ample amount of Parmesan gives the savory notes you want from classic Italian fare. The only substitution we made in this dish is that we subbed chicory for escarole. Both are varieties of endive. If you can't get escarole or chicory, we suggest just upping the amount of kale.
The flavors are nice, but the overall texture left a little to be desired. Without pasta to give it some definition, this lasagna casserole was very creamy and liquid. It might be easier to eat it with a spoon than a fork.
Still, we'd probably make this again. It's a tasty, healthful casserole (that happens to make an excellent take-to-work lunch, by the way).
So if you're looking for a nice, light dish that's healtful and filling, we highly recommend this! But if you want to make a traditional lasagna, well, give this one a pass. (But send us the recipe for the one you're making!)
Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
7 cloves garlic
1 large bunch kale (1 1/2 pounds), steams and center ribs discarded, roughly chopped
1 large head escarole (1 to 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed and roughly chopped
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, 1/4 cups bean liquid reserved and beans drained
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 3/4 cups)
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil and half the mushrooms. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. Repeat with 1 more teaspoon oil and the remaining mushrooms.
Chop 6 garlic cloves. Heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan or skillet. Add garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute (do not let brown). Raise heat to medium-high, and add 1/2 cup water. Add two-thirds of the kale; cover, and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Add remaining kale. Cover, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in escarole, and add a little more water if pan is dry. Cover, and cook until greens are wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove lid, and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat bottom of a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking dish with 1 teaspoon oil. Place beans in a food processor. Finely grate remaining garlic clove over beans. Purée 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl, add reserved bean liquid, and purée until smooth, about 1 minute. Add oregano , and pulse until just combined.
Coarsely chop tomatoes, reserving juices. Combine tomatoes and juices with red-pepper flakes and spread one-third in baking dish. Top with half the greens. Spread half the bean purée over the greens with a small offset spatula, and sprinkle with a third of the cheese. Scatter evenly with three-quarters of the mushrooms.
Continue layering with a third of the tomatoes, the remaining greens, and a third of the cheese. Dot top with spoonfuls of remaining bean purée, using the back of the spoon to slightly flatten mounds (it will spread as it bakes). Layer with remaining cheese. Cover with foil, being careful not to let foil touch surface, and bake until bubbling around edges and hot but not bubbling in center, 30 to 35 minutes.
Turn on broiler. Transfer lasagna to broiler, and cook until top just turns golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.