I love, love, love lasagna!
OK, who doesn’t? Even vegetarians find a way to make lasagna work for them. Otherwise, I don’t think vegetable lasagna would exist.
Well, I specifically love, love, love my mother’s lasagna. She made it with a secret ingredient that no other mother of any of my friends ever made it with. (Did that sentence make any sense?)
Anyway, everyone I have ever known (except my mother) made lasagna with ricotta cheese. Including frozen versions. Don’t get me wrong. Ricotta has its place. But, it makes my lasagna dry. And, it’s just not right.
So, when I moved out of the house, I made sure to get that lasagna recipe to take with me. I made it a few times, but I have not attempted it since going gluten-free. I know I can get gluten-free lasagna noodles, but it just seems too heavy to me.
But, I have been trying to figure out a way to make it. Make it more healthy. Make it less heavy. Make it so I can eat it, enjoy it, and not feel guilty and 5 pounds heavier.
Well, I did it. That gosh darn CSA box showed up with an over abundance of veggies, again. What to do with them?
There were two giant bunches of Swiss chard. Hmmm. Chard is flat and long. And it goes great in Italian/tomato dishes. I wonder…
Yep! It worked like a charm. Well, almost. When I made it, I used the chard in long strips. And, we found out that it is a bit difficult to cut into with a knife when it’s warm. Hence, the recipe below calls for it torn into pieces. Much easier.
And, one other note. It was pretty watery due to the leafy green thing. I used a turkey baster to suck some of it out. But, it still tasted great. And, the water content should be reduced if you use a spinner on your chard before you layer it.
OH! And that secret ingredient that my mother used. It’s cottage cheese. Instead of ricotta, she used cottage cheese. It made the lasagna so moist and yummy. Anyone I have ever known that has tried my mother’s lasagna (or later, mine) loves it and says it’s the best they’ve ever had. Seriously! She volunteered to make it for Christmas Eve dinner one year and was pretty much required to do it every year after. Snarf went my family. It was gone!
So, below is my recipe for Christmas Lasagna. Get it? It’s red (the sauce) and green (the chard). Get it?
- 1 Onion (chopped)
- 4 – 5 cloves Garlic (chopped)
- 2 lbs Ground Beef
- 2 – 28 oz. cans Tomato Sauce
- 2 tbsp Dried Parsley Flakes
- 1 tbsp Sugar (I used Palm Sugar.)
- 1 tsp Dried Basil
Cottage Cheese Mixture -
- 3 cups Cottage Cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)
- 1 tbsp Dried Parsley Flakes
- ½ tsp Dried Oregano
The Rest of It -
- 1 bunch of Swiss Chard (rinsed, dried, and torn into pieces)
- 8 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Saute onion in a little olive oil until translucent.
- Add garlic and saute a bit more. Be careful not to burn garlic.
- Add ground beef and cook until beef is browned and mixed with onion and garlic.
- Drain off the fat.
- Add tomato sauce, parsley, sugar, and basil.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered at least one hour or until mixture has thickened to the consistency of spaghetti sauce.
- Remove from heat.
Cottage Cheese Mixture -
- Add cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley and basil to food processor and blend until smooth. It will be thick and you need to spoon it out. It should not pour. Then it’s too thin.
The Rest of It -
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In an ungreased lasagna pan, layer Swiss chard to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Then the meat sauce.
- Then mozzarella cheese.
- Then cottage cheese mixture.
- And repeat 3 more times.
- End with mozzarella so cottage cheese mixture is only layered 3 times.
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Bake for 1 hour if lasagna has been refrigerated.
**Note** I used a very large lasagna pan for this. If using a normal or smaller pan, it will make two batches.
**Note 2** My mother is allergic to onions, so in her original recipe, she uses onion powder. It works perfectly. So, if you have an issue with onions, just substitute onion powder.
I am also posting this recipe now, because it is easy to make ahead of time and refrigerate/freeze for a crazy day that you just want to throw something in the oven and be done with it. Indulgent, yet still feel good about eating it with all of the holiday food we are given all month. Just be sure it is thawed before cooking if you freeze it.
Until later, here’s to…Living better, easily!™
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PPS – I am linking this to Gluten-Free Holiday at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang for holiday entrees and side dishes. Lots of good stuff linked already. Go take a look.
PPPS – I am also linking this to Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free being hosted by Carol from Simply…Gluten-Free. (Naomi Devlin of Straight Into Bed, Cakefree and Dried started Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free, and each month it’s hosted on a different blog with a different theme.) And, this month’s theme is family traditions. Since this is a Christmas Eve tradition, it counts.
PPPPS – Wow! I have a lot to link this to. I am also linking this to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker. Linda always has a lot of great recipes of her own, plus some fabulous ones linked up on Wednesdays.
PPPPPS – I am also linking this to Real Food Weekly at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang. Lots of good, real food.
PPPPPPS – If you haven’t already – you can ‘like’ Glügle Gluten-Free on Facebook.