If you’ve been following the meals I’ve been cooking for my family recently, you’ve probably noticed the abundance of beets in the dishes. I try my best to make a wide variety of dishes, even though they all revolve around the same ingredient. So this recipe is made with –you guessed it– beets and beet greens! I sautéed the greens with onions, fresh thyme, tomato paste and a bit of vegetable broth. The taste is very similar to collard greens. Of course, you could always replace the beet greens with collard greens or kale.
To ensure the beet greens were well appreciated, I utilized them in layers of lasagna. The key is to add generous amounts of béchamel sauce and cheese. Prepared this way, all the beet greens and beets were used up and I bet no one even really noticed I had served such large portions of greens!
1. Info for Beet Lasagna Recipe
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
- Servings: 8
- Calories: 289kcal
2. Ingredients for Beet Lasagna Recipe
- 1 (9-ounce) package pre-cooked lasagna sheets
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
- 10 ounces golden beets (or any varieties of beets), peeled, boiled and thinly sliced
- 6 cups beet greens
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 1 cup sharp yellow Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4½ cups milk, warm
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1¼ teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
3.1 Preparing the onions
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and thyme and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are softened. Add the tomato paste and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer half the amount of onions to a plate. Set aside.
3.2 Cooking the beet greens
Wash the beet leaves thoroughly in several baths. Remove and discard the older, more fibrous part of the stems. Bring salted water to a boil. Add the beet leaves. Blanch for 1 minute. Drain the liquid, reserving 1 cup and transfer the greens to a cold water bath. Roughly chop the leaves.
In the same pan, bring the temperature up to high heat. Add the beet greens and sauté until evenly distributed and well coated with the onions. Adjust seasoning.
Reserve the excess beet green liquid in a separate bowl. You can use the liquid to thin the béchamel sauce later if it starts to thicken too much.
3.3 For the béchamel sauce
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat; you don’t want it to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add the flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter and form a paste. Add the milk in 3 stages and stir well until fully incorporated. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add ½ cup each of mozzarella and cheddar cheese and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beet green liquid if the sauce is too thick (I did). Let cool.
3.4 Assembly time
Check the consistency of the béchamel sauce. If it’s too thick, thin the sauce with the reserved beet green liquid (up to 1 cup).
In a 10” x 14” x 3” high rectangular pan sprayed with oil (for easy clean up), spread a layer of reserved onions and the tomato sauce first, then layer 4½ sheets of the lasagna. Spread a layer of leafy green mixture evenly. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Spread 2 to 3 ladles of the béchamel sauce, then add another 4½ sheets of lasagna. Repeat the same layers with thinly sliced golden beets, then more greens until all the ingredients are used up. Finish with the rest of the béchamel sauce. It should cover the whole tray; top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place in the oven for 30 minutes at 375°F (until golden brown).
When it’s cooked, remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. Cut into squares.
4. Tips and advices:
- I am not a fan of fresh lasagna sheets. I use Barilla brand lasagna that’s already pre-cooked. The heat and mioisture of the béchamel sauce will cook and soften the lasagna sheets. I think it’s better to control the level of liquid and to produce a denser consistency. There’s nothing worse than soggy lasagna. When you use dry pasta, you’ll get good results and you’ll also save some time.
- The secret to good lasagna is the balance of liquid in the dish. I use a slightly thinner béchamel sauce than the traditional one used in Mac ‘n’ Cheese. The lasagna should come out firm when it’s served. If the excess liquid from the leafy greens is not removed beforehand, you’ll have runny, soggy lasagna.
- To make béchamel sauce, always make sure all the ingredients are at the same temperature, so heat the milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes (or in a saucepan), so it’s warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don’t hesitate to use a hand blender. If you have béchamel sauce left-over, don’t discard it. Just store it for later and use it as sauce for a croque-monsieur sandwich (ham and cheese sandwich).