Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chard Lasagna

This dish made for a perfect meal for a semester-end gathering with my graduate students - you can prepare the day before and refrigerate; serve with a simple salad.  Preparing this dish, I thought of two inspirations in my life.  Sara, an energetic teacher, researcher, and activist regularly opens her home to her students for evenings of wine, food, and stimulating conversation, feeding the body and mind.  Julie integrated hope, good food, and a sort of radical acceptance into her classroom, and always reminded me of the importance of care for self and others in any intellectual life.  Both teach me much about imagining a different future.

As I was preparing this for my own students, I was not yet aware that Julie died last week. There is much to celebrate about the life of this remarkable woman...

serves 10-12

1 1/2 pkgs flat lasagna noodles (the kind you don't have to cook - I did this with whole wheat noodles and it worked splendidly)
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
olive oil for sauteing 

1 28 oz + 1 12 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can get them)
30 oz container low fat or fat free ricotta cheese
2 bunches chard
2 eggs
1 small bunch fresh basil
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup shredded cheese (Parmesan/Provolone/Mozzarella blend is perfect)
salt and pepper

Begin by dicing the onion and mashing or pressing the garlic.  Start to work on sauteing the onion in a large saute pan.  Allow to saute until translucent.

In the meantime, chop your chard and set aside in a large bowl.
Chop your basil and set aside.

By now your onions are probably translucent; reduce heat and add the garlic, allow to saute for another 3-4 minutes, until garlic just begins to brown.  

Add 1/2 of the onion/garlic mixture to the chard.  Add the tomatoes to the onions and garlic in the pan, with juice, and allow to simmer until somewhat thick.

Mix the ricotta cheese, half of the basil, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste into the chard.  Form a well in the middle and add the eggs; beat them lightly with a fork before mixing well into the whole mixture.

Check on your sauce.  When it is somewhat thickened, remove from heat and add the remainder of the basil.

In a 9 1/2 x 13 pan, spray the bottom and sides with olive oil.  Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the bottom, followed by a layer of noodles (should take about 5 to cover).  Follow with 1/3 of the cheese/chard mixture, a 1/4 cup sauce, and another layer of noodles.  Repeat two more times. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, and top with the shredded cheese and foil.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, remove the foil, and bake another fifteen minutes, until the top is brown.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Red Beet Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Unlikely combination? Absolutely. Delicious?  Oh, you have NO idea... A recipe using red beets was circulating a month or two ago. Using the usual tricks to cut on fat and calories, I came up with this version based on my own favorite ingredients (not to mention refrigerator contents).

3/4  cup          beet puree
3/4  cup          sugar
3/4  cup          flour
1/2  cup          cocoa
1/4  cup          canola oil
1/4  cup          nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp applesauce
1     tsp           baking powder
1/2  tsp           baking soda
1/2  tsp           balsamic vinegar or ume plum vinegar
1/4  tsp           salt
2                    eggs, at room temperature
Canola oil spray or unbleached baking cups (Beyond Gourmet makes some that work well)

Preheat oven to 350. Insert 12 baking cups or spray 12 cups in a muffin pan. Stir together the dry ingredients. Set aside. Mix together the yoghurt, oil, beet puree, vinegar, milk and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Fill 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

Nutrition (calculated from recipe ingredients)
 Calories: 149
 Calories From Fat: 54
 Total Fat: 6.1g
 Cholesterol: 36mg
 Sodium: 166.6mg
 Potassium: 125.7mg
 Carbohydrates: 22.6g
 Fiber: 1.7g
 Sugar: 13.5g
 Protein: 3.1g