It's a recipe by Rowley Leigh using Swiss chard that I've had my eye on for a while, especially when I saw that Josh had blogged it and his looked great. Swiss Chard isn't something my local Sainsburys stocks though, and this had prevented me from trying it out. However, a weekend trip to Greenwich and a visit to a cute little greengrocers on Royal Hill found me in possession of a big bag of cavolo nero, a dark, almost black cabbage. I had seen recipes using this before, such as with pasta, but as I'm at home with not a lot else to do, I wanted something rather more time-consuming and involved.
Well, I can happily report back that cavalo nero is a pretty good substitute. It has a pleasing bite to it and a iron-rich flavour that holds it's own in the lasagne. The whole lasagne was excellent - each layer had it's own distinct flavour and nothing overwhelmed. The inclusion of basil leaves meant you got a fresh herby hit every other mouthful or so. It's definitely a recipe I'll make again.
Cavolo Nero & Portabello Mushroom Lasagne
Serves 2 - 3
1 bay leaves
A couple sprigs of thyme
20g plain flour
200g Cavalo Nero
3 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
20 basil leaves
250g Portabello mushrooms or similar
100ml double cream
4 or 5 no-cook lasagne sheets
Put the milk, sliced onion, cloves and thyme into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for three minutes then turn off the heat and leave it to infuse and cool, then strain.
In another saucepan melt the butter then add the flour, stirring well and cooking for a couple of minutes to make a roux. Whisk in the milk, bit by bit, ensureing there are no lumps. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until smooth.
Wash the cavalo nero leaves and chop into centimetre thick strips.
Fry the chopped garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil for a minute then add the cabbage and fry for a few minutes it starts to wilt and become tender. Pour in the tomatoes, season well, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes before removing from the heat and allowing to cool.
Slice the mushrooms to half a centimetre thick then heat a large frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the mushrooms, adding the juice of the lemon half way through and seasoning well. Once cooked but still firm, drain in a colander over a bowl, letting the juices drip into the bowl.
Next, to finish the white sauce, whisk in the mushroom juices and the double cream. Simmer further until it has reduced slightly and is glossy and thick. You should now have three dishes - the tomato cavalo nero, the mushrooms and the white sauce.
Assemble the lasagne starting with one layer of white sauce, one layer of lasagne, one layer of tomato mixture and one layer of the mushrooms. Continue this for three layers, scattering the basil leaves atop the tomato mixture. Grate the parmesan over the final, white sauce layer.
Bake in a 200ºC (180ºC for fan assisted) for 40 minutes then remove and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Serve with a green salad.