Thanksgiving Vegetable Lasagna

by Marjan

My quest to serve a creative non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner continues! Last week's recipe for haricot vert  was intended to replace the traditionally neglected green bean side dish. For this weeks recipe, I have created a vegetarian lasagna which is as rich and delicious as my classic lasagna recipe. Inspired by seasonal vegetables and one of my favorite holiday side dishes, mac-n-cheese, I have incorporated Swiss chard (or kale) and yam to make a rich yet healthy vegetable side dish or vegetarian main dish.


Layers of yam, Swiss chard, fontina, ricotta, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese accented with nutmeg and sage is the perfect healthy and delicious Thanksgiving meal!


A nice little time saving trick: I usually make extra mashed yam to also use for one of my favorite appetizers, candied Bacon and yam!


Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, prepare this tantalizing cheesy lasagna and enjoy throughout a busy work week. A great pot-luck dish, lasagna is easy to bake ahead, cool and reheat. This time saving delicious Vegetable Lasagna will be a big hit during chilly fall and winter months.
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

I prefer to use fresh, organic ingredients from scratch.  However, to save time, canned cooked yam may be substituted instead of oven roasted; and instead of making your own béchamel sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese can also be substituted. Preparing this delicious dish requires 1 1/2 hours of prep time and 45 minutes of bake time. I guarantee it is all well worth it!


8 or 9 Lasagna noodles (I prefer 'no-boil, precooked, oven ready noodles'; otherwise prepare noodles following package instructions)
1/3 cup quality extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 pounds Swiss chard (or kale), stems removed and chopped
4 cloves of minced garlic
3-4 yams; peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thin
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon crushed dried sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
32 oz. organic ricotta cheese
2 cups freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 cups freshly grated fontina cheese
2 organic large eggs
**optional Béchamel sauce or shredded mozzarella cheese instead
    3 tablespoons of butter
    3 tablespoons flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    3/4 cup warm milk
**optional garnish with fresh sage leaves and all spice
9x13 inch lasagna baking dish

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Place sliced yam on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast for 30 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, heat a large pan on medium low with olive oil. Toss onions and sauté until soft (5-7 minutes).  Add Swiss chard and stir frequently until wilted (10 minutes). Toss in garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes until garlic is fragrant. Turn heat off and set aside.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together all 3 cheeses (NOT mozzarella if using béchamel), eggs, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, sage, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper.
Butter all sides of baking dish well. Arrange 3-4 noodles on the bottom. Cover evenly with entire Swiss chard and top with half of cheese mix. Place another layer of noodles. Layer roasted yam evenly on top of lasagna. Top with remaining cheese mixture.
If preparing béchamel sauce, in a medium size sauce pan over low heat, melt butter. Add flour to hot melted butter and using a French whip stir constantly for about 1-2 minutes until slightly golden and well blended. Gradually stir in warm milk and nutmeg while stirring until mixture is thick and smooth (consistency similar to thick gravy), approximately 15 minutes. 
** if not preparing béchamel, sprinkle mozzarella on top of cheese mix and garnish with sage and dash of all-spice. 
Otherwise, spoon béchamel on top of cheese. Bake for 45-50 minutes and garnish with sage leaves and dash of all-spice; place back in the oven for 4-5 minutes on broil. Remove, cool for 15 minutes prior to serving.




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