I literally can not remember the last time I had lasagna. The tomato allergy put a lot of really amazing Italian dishes right out of reach for me, so when I started making this last night, I was terrified. Maybe it would be awful. Maybe it would be just fine, but I wouldn’t like it. Maybe some dishes just can’t be adapted to not use tomatoes.
I shouldn’t have worried. It was creamy and complex with a cracker-crisp layer of parmesan over the top and had just enough vegetable to feel like a whole meal in one casserole. This recipe, in other words, rocks. I will confess, I didn’t measure everything. Until I started putting all this stuff on the Internet, I only ever measured for pastry and eyeballed everything else. I like to use as much of something as looks or smells or tastes right. Actually, I feel dough when I bake and add flour or liquid as needed. So my old habits kicked in tonight, and for a few things I’m just going to have to guess how much I used. Use your own judgment if it doesn’t seem right to you. Recipes are meant to be played with!
Ingredients (makes a 9X13 casserole, serves 6-8)
3/4 pound lasagna noodles (15 sheets)*
4 cups carrot sauce (double this recipe)
1 pound mozzarella, grated. I used the cheap stuff. It’s a whole pound of mozzarella, and melting rather improves it.
4-6 leaves of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 eight-ounce bag of frozen artichoke hearts.
some sour cream (We talked about this. I just used a spoon, okay?)
3/4 cup grated parmesan
First make the carrot sauce. If you’re smarter than I am you have some in the fridge, but I tend to make small batches and them wish I had more. So I made the double batch, and discovered that my immersion blender can handle it (Good; that much sauce will not get along with my food processor. Not in one batch, anyway.) Stir the eggs into the carrot sauce and set aside.
Boil the lasagna noodles until al dente, according to the instructions on the box. This only deserves special mention because of what happens next. Once you drain them, they will try to weld themselves together with an adhesive strength rivalling that of concrete. So I peeled them apart, cursing up a storm as I burned every one of my fingers, and draped them over the sides of my colander. There has got to be a better way.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and start making lasagna layers. Assembling the lasagna is actually fun for someone as compulsive as I am. First, three noodles to cover the bottom of my dish. Then I spread some sour cream over the noodles with the back of a spoon. I probably used about two teaspoons per layer, but just use as much or as little as you want. This turned out to be my accidental secret ingredient, as I forgot to tell Mr. Blackbird about it and he was obsessing over that one flavor he couldn’t name. Oops.
Then sprinkle about 1/5 of the mozzarella over the pasta, smear about 3/4 of a cup of sauce over that, and layer in some artichoke hearts and kale. I didn’t measure any of this, and it came out great, so please don’t worry if one layer has a whole cup of sauce and the next has too many veggies, because it will all work out. I promise, this turned out to be an incredibly forgiving dish.
That right there, for instance, was a not-enough-kale layer. The next one made up for it. Repeat with all the layers but the top one, where you want the cheese on top for bubbling purposes. The parmesan goes on top of that. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 5-10 to get the top nice and crispy. I actually cranked the oven up to max broil for two minutes and got a thin parmesan cracker over the top of the casserole, which I declared the best part. Mr. Blackbird does not agree. He liked the artichokes best. Serve with wine and a bit of bread, if you like. It really needs no accompaniment. Next time I might throw in some pulled smoked chicken breast, but this dish honestly holds its own without it.
I tried to show the layers here, but I don’t think it comes across. Or maybe it does. Look at how nicely everything just smooshes together into one amazing, savory bite!