Wild Garlic Lasagne

This is a twist on a classic veggie lasagne that makes full use of nature’s bounty, fresh from the countryside. Sourcing food sustainably as best I can, is a big part of my cooking ethos and what better way of doing that than foraging for it in the local woods?

So when we were out walking the other day, we went past this beautiful wild garlic glade carpeted with leaves ready to pick. And that’s when we realised that we had to bring some of this beauty home and fit it into our dinner plans. In terms of food miles, it doesn’t get much better than this; our wild garlic travels about a mile from plant to table, all by foot.

Wild Garlic

My husband is fond of all things pasta and he often bakes a mean veggie lasagne with layers of tomato sauce alternating with spinach and ricotta sauce. Why not mix in some wild garlic with the spinach? No reason at all. As it turns out, this abundant leafy vegetable is a perfect complement to this dish, adding a distinct but not overpowering flavour.

We used a mixture of the two greens. The only thing to watch out for is that wilting the garlic takes a bit longer than the spinach if you include the very tasty stems. So it’s best to pre-cook the two greens separately before they get mixed together with the ricotta. If you don’t have any wild garlic (the season only lasts a few weeks) then of course this recipe works perfectly well with spinach alone.

Wild Garlic Lasagne

Recipe by RieethaaCourse: Foraged food, Italian, VegetarianCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

55

minutes
Total time

1

hour 

15

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)

  • 1/2 tbsp tomato purée

  • 400g passata

  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes

  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/4 nutmeg finely grated

  • 25g fresh basil chopped

  • 400g ricotta

  • 40g parmesan

  • 150g Wild garlic, washed

  • 200g spinach, washed

  • 200g dried lasagne sheets

  • Olive oil for shallow frying

  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a lidded frying pan over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic, and fry until soft and lightly browned.
  • Add the red chilli and stir for a few seconds. Then add the tomato purée and stir for a further 30 seconds.
  • Add the passata, tinned tomatoes, and oregano. Season to taste. Leave to simmer gently for 15 minutes with the lid on.
  • While the tomato sauce is simmering, wilt the spinach for 2-3 minutes and then immerse it in iced water (this helps to preserve the rich green colour). Repeat the process with the wild garlic leaves but wilt for 5 minutes. Chop the greens together roughly and mix with the ricotta, nutmeg and two-thirds of the parmesan. Season to taste.
  • When the tomato sauce is done add two-thirds of the chopped basil, stir and then turn off the heat.
  • Line a medium-sized baking dish (we used one about 18x25cm) with baking paper and grease with a little olive oil. Add a layer of lasagne to cover the bottom of the tray, then spread about one-third of the tomato sauce over it. Add another layer of lasagne and then cover with half of the ricotta/spinach mix. Repeat. Finally, top with a last layer of lasagne and the remaining tomato sauce.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.Serve garnished with the remaining parmesan, basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

Notes

  • Wild garlic is a green leafy vegetable quite different in form and flavour to commercially-grown garlic bulbs. It’s not something I’ve ever seen sold in shops but is abundant in the English countryside for a few weeks during spring. We find it from early April to May. 
  • It pays to take a little time when cooking the tomato sauce. It’s a very simple recipe that relies on good quality passata and chopped tomatoes and 15 minutes of gentle simmering to bring out its flavour. Beware of spluttering tomato sauce though, if you don’t put a lid on your pan it can make quite a mess.
  • You can’t adjust the seasoning after the lasagne is assembled so take a moment to ensure that both sauces are correctly seasoned before cooking. We use a little chilli in our tomato sauce as well as salt. The spinach, wild garlic and ricotta just has a little nutmeg and salt.

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