Chickweed, Watercress and Arugula Lasagna with Prosciutto Crisps

chickweed lasagna
I was quite enamoured with the bundle of chickweed I picked up from Paffenroth Gardens this week. A perky ball of round stalks and perky leaves with a mild grassy flavour. I decided to use up some produce left over from last week’s canelloni to make a delicious spring herb lasagna and treat it to a very special crispy topping.

chickweed

 

As I looked into my fridge today I saw that I had a bunch of green things that were staring back at me a little forlorn and limp. This often happens towards the end of the week and honestly is no real cause for concern. The smart thing to do is make salads and raw foods at the beginning of the week, then at the back end of the week use your produce for things that are cooked in liquid, baked or are hidden in some other way. If you plan your meals with an eye to which things will last best in the fridge you won’t be disappointed. You will only need to shop once a week (maybe twice if you forgot something) and you can spend the time saved being smug and drinking gin. That is, if you want to do what I do. Otherwise you can do some other fun thing with the saved time. Anyways, on with the lasagna.

arugula

I also decided to perk up the lasagna with a few leaves of Arugula from my garden. I just planted them a couple of weeks ago and already they need a little thinning. This is a much more robust flavour than the salad leaf you get in clamshell boxes at the supermarket. When we first started to get Rocket (that’s what we call it in the U.K, a derivation of the French Roquette) in Britain it was sold as a herb; just a few leaves next to the rosemary. That is what my garden Arugula has become, and I’ll enjoy it very much this summer I think.

As I mentioned, I had some bits and pieces left over from making cannelloni last week. Some fresh lasagna sheets, ricotta and even a good amount of the lemon béchamel were begging to be used. I was looking at Tama Matsuoka Wong and Eddy Leroux’s recipe for a wild herb ravioli and I decided that I could easily bastartize it into a simple midweek lasagna. 

Had I not had these things on hand I think I would have taken the chickweed in a completely different direction. The Japanese use it in a rice porridge as one of the seven wild herbs of spring and although not a tremendous fan of rice porridge, I could imagine doing something similar. Perhaps a risotto with the chickweed stirred in and just wilted at the last minute. If there is more of this tasty green in the market in a few week’s time I’ll put something together I think.

chickweed lasagne

Back to the lasagna though. I decided to perk up the lasagna with two little toppings. Firstly I used delightful little breast shaped mozzarella balls to dot the surface until it resembled the belly of the Capitoline Wolf. Sadly, in the oven these perky domes went the way most things do over time, getting a little saggy (but nevertheless retaining their allure). I also decided to add a nice bit of crispy prosciutto to the plate. It gave a great little bit of crispy crunch and I really think it’s worth doing. If you want to keep this a vegetarian dish then I’d add a little extra salt or maybe some more parmesan to the top of the pie.
making chickweed lasagna

Chickweed, Watercress and Arugula Lasagna with a Prosciutto Crisp
Serves 4
A quick and simple lasagna recipe using Chickweed. If you don't have this to hand you could sub out for any leafy herby green.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. A large bunch of chickweed, about the size of two fists
  2. About half as much watercress
  3. And the same amount of Arugula
  4. About a dozen garlic chives (or 3 scallions)
  5. 3 shoots Green Garlic (or 3 cloves garlic)
  6. A tablespoon of butter
  7. 8oz Ricotta
  8. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus a little extra for topping
  9. 4 sheets fresh lasagna
  10. One batch Lemon Béchamel Sauce (made using 1 lemon, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 tablespoons flour)
  11. About 6 mini mozzarella balls
  12. A couple of tablespoons pesto
  13. 4 slices Prosciutto
Instructions
  1. Set the oven to 375ºF
  2. Roughly chop all the green stuff, but keep the green garlic separate; it will go in the pan first.
  3. Melt the butter in a wide skillet over a medium heat and add the chopped garlic. Let is sizzle for a few minutes, then add all the other green stuff. Give it a couple of minutes to cook down until it's bright green, then turn out into a large mixing bowl.
  4. When the greens have had a few minutes to cool, add the ricotta and parmesan along with a healthy (I mean large) pinch of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Mix well.
  5. Smear a thin layer of Béchamel over the base of an oven-proof dish then add a layer of lasagna. Spread the ricotta and greens mix over the pasta, then top it with another sheet of lasagna. Pour the remaining Béchamel over this and top with the halved balls of mozzarella, the pesto and a dusting of grated parmesan (use more if you're not making the Prosciutto crisps). Put in the hot oven.
  6. After about 35 minutes, lay out the Prosciutto on an oiled baking sheet and put in the oven. They should take about 5-10 minutes to turn golden and crisp up, but keep an eagle eye on them; they will burn easily. Take them out of the oven and set on a wire rack or piece of crumpled foil to crisp up for a few minutes.
  7. Take the bubbling, sizzling lasagna out of the oven and place a prosciutto crisp on top of each serving.
Adapted from Foraged Flavor
Adapted from Foraged Flavor
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/
Lemon Béchamel Sauce
If you need to learn how to make one sauce, I choose Béchamel. It's very simple to make and uses three ingredients you should have in your kitchen already: milk, butter and flour. The addition of lemon here is to pair with spinach, but would also go very well with artichokes.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon Butter
  2. 2 tablespoons Flour
  3. 1 1/2 cups Milk
  4. Juice of 1 Lemon
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and let froth for a minute to give up some of its water. Add the flour and stir to mix. You will have something that looks a little like dough lurking in your pan. Let this cook for about four or five minutes; this will stop your sauce from tasting floury.
  2. Now mix together the milk & lemon juice and add a dash to the pan. Stir vigorously until it's incorporated into the mix and add a little more. Keep going until the mix changes from being definitely a paste to being definitely a liquid (about half the milk will be added). At this point you can add the milk in a steady stream, stirring continuously.
  3. Now heat over a low heat until the sauce is just about at simmering point. Stir it frequently; It will have thickened into a delightful glossy white sauce.
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/

Pairing with Chickweed Lasagna

I’m going to suggest basically the same as I did for the Cannelloni: Un-oaked Chardonnay, lemonade, sparkling water.

Provenance

Chickweed, Watercress: Paffenroth Gardens

Arugula: My back garden

Garlic Chives, Green Garlic: Lani’s Farm

Prosciutto di Parma: The Greene Grape

Pesto: Home made

Ricotta: Di Palo

Pasta: Piemonte Ravioli Company

Mozzarella: Maplebrook Cheese

Milk: Organic Valley

Parmesan: Italy, from Park Slope Food Coop

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