A rich and savory lasagna, the execution is deceptively simple as this one is all about the sauce. Jam-packed with vegetables and working equally well with fresh summer tomatoes or canned bounty in the depths of a frigid February, this lasagna is Ugly Food at its finest: warm, comforting, satisfying.
While leafy greens form the backbone of the flavorful sauce, don’t be afraid to experiment with whatever fresh veg is on hand: carrots, fennel bulb, fresh basil or oregano, eggplant or summer squash. At its best, lasagna is a use-it-up dish that wraps all sorts of vegetable goodness in a tasty blanket of carbs and cheese: and who doesn’t want that?
Kale & Arugula Tomato Sauce
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stalk celery, with leaves, sliced
- 1 green sweet pepper, diced
- 1 large bunch kale (8 – 12 oz), washed, tough stems removed, chopped
- 1 bunch arugula (4 oz), washed, tough stems removed, chopped
- 1 quart tomato purée or canned tomatoes, or 1 pint tomato sauce + 2 lbs chopped fresh tomatoes
- ½ tsp sea salt, or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 12 lasagna noodles or 1 recipe whole wheat pasta
- 1 lb ricotta cheese, preferably whole milk
- 1 lb mozzarella, preferably whole milk, sliced
- 1 – 2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
- dried oregano, for garnish
- In a Dutch oven or stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, celery and sweet pepper; sauté over low heat until vegetables are tender and somewhat reduced, about 10 minutes.
- Add kale and arugula; sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until wilted.
- Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano; stir to mix well, then simmer over low heat, partially covered, until sauce thickens and flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Coat the bottom of a 13-inch casserole or lasagna pan very lightly with tomato sauce (to prevent noodles from sticking). Lay uncooked lasagna noodles, or a sheet of fresh homemade pasta, to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Layer approximately ⅓ of the mozzarella and ricotta cheeses across the noodle layer. Spoon a thick layer of kale-arugula sauce over the cheese, spreading evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan, then add the next layer of noodles. Repeat for one more layer, then add the top layer of noodles and top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with oregano and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil (tightly if using unbaked lasagna noodles, loosely if using fresh pasta) and bake in the preheated oven until thickly bubbling, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is nicely browned and there is little to no liquid bubbling at the sides, about 15 to 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes prior to serving.
- Any leafy green will work well here: kale, chard, mustard, beet or radish greens, arugula or a combination. If using frozen vegetables, thaw completely in a colander and squeeze out excess water in a clean kitchen towel.
Will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or keeps well frozen for up to 3 months.
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