Thursday, May 19, 2011

Leftover Ricotta?? /Swisschard- mushroom lasagne

Fresh Ricotta comes in overfilled cans with holes in the bottom to allow the cheese to drain. Usually, you can find it in one or two pound cans. When CW said she wanted Eggplant Parmesan for Mother's Day, DH (dutiful husband) went out to buy ricotta during his weekend food shop. Unfortunately,the market I went to only had the two pound cans so I was left with all this left over cheese which doesn't keep very long. One of my inventions for using left over ricotta is to spread it on egg and onion matzoh. Topped with a little salt and freshly ground pepper, this is a real treat. Did you know there is a rather large population of Jewish people in Rome? They have some specialty dishes that are truly wonderful though I don't know if ricotta and matzoh is one of them. 

A small problem of cooking with swiss chard is that the stems that are on the vegetable take a longer time to cook than the leaves just like the stalks on the broccoli plant, for example. Simply clean them up, slice them and cook them first and they will be fine. Above, you see sliced  mushrooms and the cut up stalks which should be cooked at the same time. By the way, if you see the "rainbow" variety of swiss chard the stems are red, green, yellow and white. It would be a pity to discard them (as I saw Rachel Ray do this morning) and miss all that color.

As soon as the mushrooms and stems are cooked, add garlic and the chopped washed leaves to the pan cooking them about 3-4 minutes longer. Then put them aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.

To the cheese, add salt and pepper an egg,  some grated parmigiana reggiano and a grating of nutmeg. If you have a little mozzarella or Italian fontina, you may grate some into the mix as well. Remember though, ricotta is the star. Any additions should compliment the ricotta not overpower it.   Now, it's time to construct the lasagne.

This is the first time I've used the "no boil" lasagne believe it or not. I like the curly edges of the traditional lasagne and couldn't imagine the "no boil" stuff could be as good. I was wrong.
The only thing to remember with this lasagne is to make sure their is enough liquid for the noodles to absorb so either dip the noodles in sauce before using them, or make sure you use enough sauce between the layers. Above is my first layer with a good amount of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.I use an offset spatula to spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles. I also like to line my noodles in both directions from one layer to the next so they hold up better on the plate.

Here's the second layer with more sauce and the mushrooms and swiss chard mix.  I had enough vegetables left for about 1/2 a layer, so my third layer was a mixture of  cheese and   vegetables. The top layer was sauce and grated parmigiana regianno.

Layer 3

 Top layer ready for the oven

You need to let the dish sit for 30 minutes before baking it. This gives the no boil noodles time to absorb the moisture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, then allow an additional 20 minutes before cutting it. I promise you, this was good!


  1. That looks absolutely wonderful Joe! We love swiss chard, and I need to go pick some up. I have used fresh ricotta once for a daring cooks challenge. I think it was a gnocchi. Brian picked it up from an Italian deli, but it came in a clear plastic container not a can. Oh, and I love your idea of adding pine nuts to the putanessca. Take care.

  2. Oh, Joe, this looks wonderful, though it is difficult to find fresh ricotta in these parts. Our CSA starts next week; this will be on our list for the first week of swiss chard. YUM! Thanks for sharing (and instructing). Easy to follow, as always!!

  3. There is a good recipe for homemade fresh ricotta in The Splendid Table by Lynn Rosetto Casper.

  4. This looks absolutely delicious Joe and I will use your tip about letting the lasagne sit for a while before baking so the no boil noodles can absorb, thanks!