Spicy Chard & Italian Sausage Lasagna

 

Traditional Italian-American lasagna is a flavor bomb of deliciousness. Heavy with meat and cheese all in a warm comforting dish, yum. Sadly however I feel like I’ve eaten a bowling ball after a few bites. Lasagna is a reminder it is possible to have too much of a good thing. It’s too meaty, too cheesy, too rich. I started playing around with my lasagna recipe to see if I could come up with something just as satisfying but without the caloric guilt and lead balloon weight. This lasagna is flavorful and as satisfying as the traditional dish with less of everything. Even better it uses no cook noodles, dried spices and is much cheaper and easier on the waistline with the use of cottage cheese and only 2 cups of shredded cheese. Plus, it’s even better the next day. So the next time you think lasagna give this dish a try. It’s light enough for spring and it pairs well with lighter bodied red wines. I know the recipe looks lengthy but it’s deceptive. This dish comes together quickly and won’t keep you in the kitchen for hours. Enjoy!

10 oz. chard, rinsed and roughly chopped (I used baby chard so the stems were more tender, if using full-sized leaves remove the stems and cook them first for 3 minutes then add the leaves)
8 oz. hot Italian sausage (2 meat counter links), removed from casing
8 oz. bag of shredded cheese (mozzarella or Italian blend)
24 oz. large curd cottage cheese
28 oz. spaghetti sauce (I used Barilla Roasted Garlic)
9 – 12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles (I use Barilla so they’re actually half the usual length and depending on which pan I use I can either place 3 side by side or 4. If they overlap slightly that’s fine)
2 large eggs
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped (a generous 1/2 cup)
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

1. Pour the cottage cheese into a colander and set aside to drain.

2. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the sausage stirring it occasionally until it is cooked through. Once it’s cooked use a potato masher to press through the meat a few times to crumble it. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon leaving the residual oil in the pan.

3. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook about 3 minutes, reduce heat if the garlic starts browning heavily. Add the chard and sprinkle it with 1/2 tsp. salt, a dash of pepper and the chili flakes. Cover the pan and let the chard cook 4 minutes.

4. While the chard cooks, beat the 2 eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add the cottage cheese. Add the dried spices, 1/2 tsp. salt and a dash of pepper. Stir until combined.

5. When the chard is done stir it together with the garlic and onions and pour it into the colander to drain.

6. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with a light layer of spaghetti sauce, about 1/2 a cup.

7. Place 3 or 4 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. It’s fine if there’s a bit of space between them or if they overlap, just get them in there. Add 1/2 the cottage cheese mixture and sprinkle with 3 Tbs of the shredded cheese. Next evenly distribute the sausage and then the chard across the cottage cheese mixture. Pour in the remaining cottage cheese and sprinkle with 3 more Tbs of the shredded cheese. Top with 3-4 more lasagna noodles and then pour the remaining sauce over.

8. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. After 25 minutes, remove the foil and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese evenly over the top and bake about 10 minutes more until brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes  before serving. You can cut it sooner but it will be runny. Patience grasshopper. For best texture make it a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.

3 comments

  1. Two questions: 1. Cottage cheese is the ONLY cheese in the world I don’t like (mostly a texture thing), but I do like the idea of using it to lighten a recipe. Will I notice it? 2. Why chard? No objection to it. Just curious why you picked it.

    • Hi LA – Thanks for checking out the recipe. You will notice the cottage cheese because it doesn’t become completely spreadable like ricotta in traditional lasagna does. So while it doesn’t taste like cottage cheese because it absorbs the flavors you will still have some noticeable curds. I would suggest using half low fat ricotta and half cottage cheese instead so you get the lightness but a smoother texture. A quick blitz in a Magic Bullet would get rid of any curds too. I used chard because it’s sturdy enough to hold up to baking, it’s slightly bitter so it works really well with the sausage and I can always find it almost year round at the Farmer’s Market. It’s also incredibly easy to grow so it became my go-to green when I was actively gardening. I hope you enjoy the lasagna and thanks for visiting my blog!

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