First of all, I’m not even gonna front and pretend this recipe is quick and easy – it is quite involved and somewhat complicated due to the sheer number of steps required for making fresh pasta and fresh cheese, but the end result is definitely worth it.
The base of this lasagna is the homemade saffron pasta noodles. If you have the time to make your own pasta, please make your own pasta! It takes a little bit of pre-planning and some extra time but it’s worth the effort. The next best choice would be fresh pasta from your local farmer’s market, if you have that available. Regular, store bought pasta will work just fine, too! A spinach-infused pasta would also work well here.
The homemade truffled ricotta is really the star of the show, though. Again, if you have time, please try to make the cheese from scratch. It’s easy peasy but again, takes some pre-planning. LAWD! The difference fresh cheese makes!! I can’t even explain it to you. But, if you’re tight on time and would still like to try this recipe, fresh ricotta from a local vendor would be preferable in lieu of homemade, then store bought if that’s not available to you. Either way, add a little truffle salt to add that extra bit of umami-ness.
This is one of my favorite hearty vegetarian main dishes. I especially love it because it’s a lasagna without a red sauce OR a bechemel sauce – just the vegetables and fresh ricotta shining through.These steps can easily be trimmed by substituting ready-made, store bought versions of lasagna noodles and ricotta cheese. Either way, the recipe is definitely worth trying.
Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Lasagna with Saffron Noodles and Fresh Truffled Ricotta
adapted from food & wine
makes 12 servings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing
1 onion, finely chopped
2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 cups fresh homemade truffled ricotta (recipe here, see notes below for alternative)
2 large eggs, beaten
6 oz parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz fontina cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 400°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Cook fresh lasagna noodles for 60 seconds. If using store-bought noodles, cook for ~3 minutes, just until they begin to soften. Drain well and transfer the noodles to a baking sheet. Toss the noodles with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add in Swiss chard (add in batches, if necessary) and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until wilted and no more liquid remains. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a plate to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, nutmeg and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix the truffled ricotta with the eggs, 1 1/2 cups of the parmesan, 1 cup of the fontina and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
assemble the lasagna
Butter a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish and spread 1/2 cup of the pumpkin mixture in an even layer across the bottom of the dish. Place 3 or 4 lasagna noodles on top of the pumpkin, overlapping them slightly. Spread half of the remaining pumpkin mixture over the noodles in an even layer. Top with half of the Swiss chard and another layer of noodles. Cover with half of the truffled ricotta mixture. Repeat the layering with lasagna noodles, pumpkin, Swiss chard, another layer of noodles. Finish the layering with the ricotta mixture.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until heated through. Take out of the oven and remove the foil.
Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan and 1 cup of fontina on top of the lasagna and broil until golden brown and crisp on top, about 4 minutes (up to 10 minutes if you like your cheese extra crunchy like me). Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes, then cut into squares.
Serve with a light arugula salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and parmesan cheese.
Skip the homemade lasagna noodles and purchase fresh or dried store-bought. Try experimenting with flavored noodles, like spinach.
Skip the homemade truffled ricotta cheese and use store-bought ricotta + 1 tsp of truffle salt, if you have truffle salt.