Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sicilian Inspired Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins and Pine nuts

Since Dan has been working so hard for the last few months I wanted to make him something special tonight for dinner that he can take tomorrow to work for lunch. I have mentioned before how much he loves my spinach lasagna. Today I wanted to make lasagna but I thought a different flavor was in order. I had purchased a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard last weekend at the farmers’ market which I thought would be perfect in the lasagna. I couldn’t quite decide between using walnuts or going in a Sicilian direction with the chard. In the end Sicily won out. To mimic the flavors of a dish I make with dark greens I have added golden raisins, pine nuts and hot pepper flakes to this lasagna. In order to bump up the flavor a little I decided I would like balsamic glazed onions and garlic to top the lasagna. In lieu of tomato sauce I made a light veggie sauce which I thickened with cornstarch. Here is what I made:

Sicilian Inspired Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins and Pine nuts
Serves 4

Balsamic onion topping Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, peeled and very thinly sliced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating so the thiopropanal sulfoxide can develop)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating so the allicin can develop)
½ cup water, divided in half
2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar (I buy the 18 year old vinegar from Napa Valley Naturals)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (I used 2 good pinches)

Swiss chard filling Ingredients:

1 bunch Swiss chard, cut into julienne (my bunch was approximately 12 ounces before it was washed)
¼ cup golden raisins, or to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts, or to taste
1 pinch nutmeg, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tofu ricotta filling ingredients:

14 ounce block firm or extra firm organic tofu (without soy protein isolates), thoroughly drained
¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes and well drained (this adds richness that is missing in most tofu ricotta recipes)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (a touch of this adds a buttery background, too much will make it cheesy in a bad way)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons dehydrated onions
1 pinch nutmeg, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lemon, zested (to brighten the flavor of the filling)
2 tablespoons brown rice flour (this helps the tofu set up so it is more like ricotta)

Sauce ingredients:

2 cup vegetables stock (I used homemade from the freezer made without salt)
1 lemon juiced (use the lemon zested above)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (to thicken the sauce)


6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, par cooked (cook approximately 75% through so that it will absorb some of the sauce and help the lasagna to set up)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, I used my convection setting. Line a loaf pan with parchment or aluminum foil to serve as a sling to remove the lasagna easily from the pan if you are going to serve it right away. If you plan to cook it ahead of time it will release easily in one piece once it has cooled a bit.

Combine the onions, garlic and ¼ cup of water and cook, stirring frequently, until the water has evaporated. Add the second ¼ of water and cook until that has evaporated. Now add the balsamic vinegar, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the vinegar has become a glaze and the onions look like this. Refrigerate the onions until the lasagna has baked.

Trim and clean the Swiss chard. Microwave the chard until it has just wilted. Add the remaining ingredients (raisins, pine nuts, nutmeg and black pepper) and taste for flavor. Adjust any of the ingredients to suit your taste. Set aside.

For the tofu filling combine the ingredients in your food processor and process until the cashews have been completely broken down. Taste the tofu filling and adjust the flavors to your taste.

To make the sauce combine the ingredients and whisk until the cornstarch has been completely incorporated. Now cook until the sauce thickens and the color goes from opaque to translucent. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.

The reason I continue to tell you to taste all the components is that lasagna is nothing but the sum of its parts. Each individual layer needs to suit your taste or you won’t enjoy the combined dish as much as you could.

To make the lasagna place 1/3 of the Swiss chard mixture in the bottom of the pan, add 1/3 of the sauce. Top with 2 par cooked lasagna noodles, cut to fit. Now top the lasagna noodles with 1/3 of the tofu mixture. Continue adding layers like the first ones, chard, sauce, noodles and tofu until the pan is full.

Cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the noodles are completely cooked. I check the noodles by inserting a paring knife into the pan. If the noodles are cooking the knife will slide in easily.

Allow the lasagna to cool for at least 20 minutes before trying to cut the lasagna.

When you are ready to serve heat the balsamic onions and top the slice of lasagna with the balsamic onions or serve the balsamic onions on the side.  I added a few pine nuts to the top as well that aren't included in the recipe.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 356.86
Calories From Fat (29%) - 104.67

Total Fat - 12.24g
Saturated Fat - 1.31g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 199.14mg
Potassium - 684.88mg
Total Carbohydrates - 50.45g
Fiber - 6.95g
Sugar - 10.95g
Protein - 17.62g


This is not your usual lasagna but it is good. Even my hubby who loves the traditional spinach lasagna I normally make said this was very good and he would eat it again without complaint. This is higher praise than you realize since he really loves the spinach version.

Food today:

Lunch today was very simple for me. I made myself a quick salad of ½ head of shredded romaine, a little roasted pepper fat free hummus (this recipe with roasted red pepper added), salsa, and a little cashew crème fraiche.

To accompany my salad I opted for a cup of frozen grapes. As often as these turn up can you tell how much I love them?

Knowing that Dan wasn’t going to be home before 7pm I opted for a mid afternoon snack that consisted of: falafel, roasted red pepper fat free hummus, a bit of cashew crème fraiche and green onions and celery to dip into the hummus.

I also had two peaches sprinkled with a few white chia seeds.

Dinner tonight was a slice of lasagna pictured above.

To accompany the lasagna we had one of our favorite salads: romaine, mango, apple, shredded carrot, and mint dressed with miso and mirin. This is such a winning combination you really should try it.

Time for me to sign off and spend a little time with my hubby before it is time to turn in. I hope you had a great day. Talk to you all again tomorrow.


  1. i have been eating soo many grapes also:) i miss cherries and blueberries though.the lasagna looks so good! have a good night Alicia


  2. The lasagna looks great. I always add in spinach to my filling, but this would be a nice change. Hope you have a great sunday morning!

  3. Michelle,

    I don't eat the frozen grapes much in the winter, but in the summer I love them. They are so great when it is hot outside.

    Thanks, Dan enjoyed the lasagna more than he expected. He really likes the original version but he said this one is "almost" as good. See what I mean about him being a tough critic, LOL. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  4. Heather,

    I usually add spinach too but I wanted something a little different yesterday. If you like foods that are savory with a little sweet and heat I think you will like this.

    I had a great morning but it was very busy. ;-) I am just getting around to starting what I had planned for my day if you can imagine. It is almost 2pm, LOL.

    hope you are having a good one too,

  5. The lasagna looks heavenly. I will definitely have to try it! Bon dimanche, Ali!

  6. Aimee,

    Thanks, we enjoyed it. I hope you do too. If you like Sicilian food you should enjoy this.

    I hope you have a good Sunday too!

  7. Hi, Ali. Your apple/mango salad inspired me the other day, but I forgot to add in the mint we have in abundance (I hate when that happens). My version was spinach from our garden (crisper than store-bought), iceberg lettuce, green onions, mango, apple, and shredded carrots, and I dressed it with the lemon water I'd dropped the apples in, a dash of sake, a dash of rice vinegar (yes, the sweet kind), and a few drops of sesame oil. Excellent! Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Cindy,

    You must have been reading my mind. I was wondering if my posting all my meals was helping anyone with ideas and you answered my question before I asked it.

    I am glad you liked mango and apple salad. I really like that combination. ;-) Mint is something that has taken over my garden (no surprise) so I try to use it everywhere that I can. It works well in this salad.

    have a great Tuesday,


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