Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lasagna with Rutabaga Greens

When I recently harvested the rutabaga that had overwintered in the garden I faced a terrible dilemma: What to do with the greens?

I hate to throw away any kind of food and I just assumed the green leafy parts of the rutabaga would be tough and bitter. But a funny thing happened on the way to the compost pile. I tasted one of the leaves and was bowled over by how tender and mild it was.

Could it be that I was looking at a meal of rutabaga greens, planted seven months earlier?

I cooked the greens in the usual manner in boiling salted water. There were a lot of greens. One batch I left plain. For another, I seasoned the water with cider vinegar. I tried to think of some ingenious use for these greens. And then I remembered a comment from Charlotte over on the Great Big Vegetable Challenge blog in response to my butternut squash lasagna. She had liked that lasagna so much, she wondered if there were any other vegetables that might benefit from the same treatment.

Why not rutabaga greens?

In fact, they make a great substitute for spinach. So if you have a favorite spinach lasagna recipe, consider making it with rutabaga greens instead.

For the filling, I mixed a cup of cooked rutabaga greens, finely chopped, with two cups of ricotta cheese and two beaten eggs. Season to taste with salt, nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over low heat, sweat half an onion, diced small, in some extra-virgin olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes, then add two finely chopped garlic cloves. Continue cooking until the garlic is cooked through. Stir this into the greens/cheese mixture.

To make a sauce, melt two tablespoon butter and stir in two tablespoons all-purpose flour. Cook the flour over moderately-low heat for three or four minutes, then begin whisking in milk, two cups total. Season with salt and about 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Cook until sauce is bubbling and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thick, add more milk.

To assemble the lasagna, I used a non-stick baking pan 8 1/2 inches square and 2 1/2 inches deep. Grease with canola spray, then coat the bottom with some of the sauce and cover with no-boil lasagna noodles (or the noodles of your choice). Spread some of the greens/cheese mix over the noodles, drizzle with sauce, then dust with grated Parmesan cheese and grated mozzarella. Continue the layering process until the ingredients are used up, making sure to save some of the sauce and cheese for the top.

Put the pan on a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven. Bake until the top is golden and bubbly.

You will be so glad you didn't throw your rutabaga greens in the compost.


Joanna said...

Forgive me if I've asked you this before (and if I didn't, then I meant to) ... what IS rutabaga? I am sure it's something we have, but by another name ... chard, perhaps?

I'm really liking your vegetable lasagnas (I bet the plural is something else)


Ed Bruske said...

Joanna, I think you Brits call rutabaga "Swedes." It's a cousin to turnip, but much larger and more orange colored.

Robin said...

Made the greens tonight. They were sweeter than expected-but very yummy! My husband thinks I'm crazy eating "the stuff you cut off".
Now to figure out how to clear the house of the rutabaga smell?

hippioflov said...

A little late in the conversation, but here's a quick way to clear cooking smells. Just boil a little vinegar on the stove. At first you have that overwhelming vinegar smell, but it soon goes away and leaves the air fresh. I even rub down my counters with vinegar.

And thanks for the lasagna idea! I'm going to surprise my family with this one. See if they can guess the vegetable in the lasagna.