Lasagna, Southern Style
The Farmers Market has finally opened, we have signed up for our spring CSA and I am already in vegetable heaven. We bought a big bunch of collard greens, yellow squash, green beans, zucchini and tomatoes, all crisp, fresh and delicious. We’ve been eating on the collards all week and I decided to do something a little different with them this time and put them in a lasagna with sliced yellow squash. My mother used yellow squash in a lasagna when I was visiting in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and I loved it. She of course took care to slice them as thin as possible and since I was trying to get it all done before my daughter woke up from her nap, I wasn’t so careful. They didn’t cook down like I had hope that they would and were still pretty crunchy, which still worked. Summer squash is good both raw and cooked. What I was nervous about was the strong flavor of the collards in the lasagna, but that ended up being the part that I liked the most, they almost melted into the pasta and were not overpowering at all. I now need to think of different ways to incorporate collard greens into pasta dishes.
After rereading the last post I wrote about lasagna, I see that my tastes have changed, I have been in the States long enough to have forgotten the taste of fresh ricotta and made this lasagna with a big tub of Sorrento. It is kind of funny and a little sad that it has been more than two years since we left Rome and not only am I putting collard greens in my lasagna, my nose doesn’t rise so high when it comes to certain ingredients.
Southern Style Lasagna
- 1 28 oz can of san marzano tomatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lb tub of ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano, divided
- 2 cups grated mozzarella
- 2 cups of braised collard greens
- 2 large yellow squash, thinly sliced lengthwise
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- 1 lb lasagna noodles
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add onions. Once the onions become transluscent break the whole tomatoes by squeezing them in your palm over the pot, pour in the rest of the tomato juice. Bring to a simmer and fill the tomato can with water to add to the pot. Allow to simmer over low heat for a few hours, stirring occasionally and breaking the tomatoes up a bit more with the back of a wooden spoon.
Add the ricotta, eggs, 1/4 cup of parmigiano-reggiano, salt and a generous amount of pepper into a mixing bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until it is combined.
Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes, you want it to be a bit undercooked because it will continue cooking in the oven.
I tend to boil my noodles in batches to prevent them from sticking together. The thick noodles don’t have as much of a tendency to do that, so you can cook the whole batch together, just be sure to separate them quickly after draining the water.
Spread a thin layer of sauce and basil pieces at the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, preferably glass. Place one layer of cooked noodles on top, covering the entire dish. Distribute the collard greens on the layer of noodles, spread a few ladle-fulls of sauce on the greens, sprinkling with parmigiano-reggiano. Place the second layer of noodles on the collards and spread the ricotta evenly over the noodles, topping that with more sauce and basil. Place the 3rd layer of noodles on the ricotta, and place the sliced squash on that third layer, spreading sauce over the squash. The final layer of noodles will be topped with sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil and what is left of the parmigiano-reggiano. Cover and let sit until you are ready to bake, it can be made 1 day ahead of time and chilled in the fridge. If you make it a day ahead, allow it to come to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
Preheat oven to 375°. Bake the lasagna, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes, until it is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow it to sit for a few minutes before serving.
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