Standout Meal of the Week: Lasagna with Chicken Sausage, Mushrooms, Rainbow Chard and Dinosaur Kale

The best thing I made this week was a lasagna that used up both the bunches of rainbow chard and dinosaur kale, which I served with an extra simple — to offset the fact that the lasagna took 3+ hours to make! — arugula salad dressed with lemon juice, kosher salt and shaved parmesan.

Don’t be too put off by that 3+ hours thing I mentioned; I’d been out two nights in a row and, on Saturday, was craving some at-home time. (I’m an introvert, is the thing.) I made tomato sauce from scratch, so that added a pretty big chunk of time onto the process. And because I used both bunches of cooking greens, including those beautiful rainbow chard stems, prep was a factor (see: my greens washing technique).

With that said, the lasagna is a super flexible recipe to keep on hand as CSA season marches on, because you can incorporate so many different vegetables into it. And, of course, homemade red sauce is a super way to use up the pounds and pounds and pounds of tomatoes that are going to challenge your will to live as the summer unfolds. The components — the red sauce, the vegetable filling — can be prepared individually, ahead of time, and assembled for a fairly fast weeknight dinner or you can, as I did, devote a lazy Saturday to binge-watching a favorite television program (in our case, I’m shepherding my husband through an “L Word” immersion) and make a huge tray of lasagna that will provide lunches, leftovers and a few pull-out-of-the-freezer portions.

Lasagna Vegetable Filling Recipe

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard stems, chopped into ½” pieces, leaves set aside
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, stems removed
  • 16 oz. white button mushrooms, quartered
  • salt & pepper

In a large saute pan, the heat olive oil before adding the onion and rainbow chard stems. Cook that very attractive mess up over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion has become soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes.

While that’s cooking, prepare the garlic and de-stem the kale. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until it becomes fragrant. Add the kale to the onion mixture and, using tongs, incorporate into the onion mixture. When the kale begins to wilt, add in the chard leaves and use tongs to incorporate, reducing heat to medium low. The chard leaves will be a bit more delicate than the kale leaves, which is why you want to get the kale wilted first.

While the greens are submitting to your will, clean and quarter the mushrooms. Generally speaking, you don’t want to wash mushrooms directly in water, as they’re sponge-like and will retain all that moisture, but in this case we actually want to end up with a bit of extra liquid in the vegetable filling. Once the mushrooms are clean and cut up, toss them in the pan, season the whole shebang with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper and a small amount of salt, and allow them to cook until they’ve given up their liquid and begin to reduce in size, about 10 minutes. Remove the filling from the heat and cool.

***A note on salt and oil content: I deliberately keep those on the low end, because the vegetable mix is being added into a dish with other salty, fatty ingredients. This is a good rule of thumb, overall, to bear in mind when pre-cooking any kind of vegetable mixture for later use.***

Next up, making your red sauce (with chicken sausage!)….