I think lasagna is my ultimate comfort food (of the savory foods that is, the sweet comfort foods have their own multi-page list), particularly when it's chock full of cheesy cream sauce and sweet potatoes. That said, I just had to share this favorite with all of you! It layers fresh homemade pasta with cheesy thyme cream sauce, sweet potatoes, and a whole bunch of kale (really, the whole bunch!).
My babes and I went hiking last weekend in the Indian Hills Wilderness, and were met with a few chilly and misty days. While hiking through the cold, we got to chatting about all the things we wanted to make with the return of cooler weather and a renewed excitement for standing near a hot stove all day long or having the oven run for hours.
The first thing on my wish list - this lasagna. So while we returned to our Portland life only to discover highs in the mid 80s and 90s all week long, I immediately got to work making this the coolest day of the week!
This is how it's done:
First, we spread a little sauce on the bottom of the dish and create the first layer of pasta goodness. I like to layer the pasta in right from the roller - easy peasy!
Then comes a whole lot of roughly chopped kale and a layer of thinly sliced sweet potatoes.
Of course, then we have to spread on a whole bunch of our luscious sauce!
Then you just layer layer layer, sprinkle some extra cheese on top and bake it until it's browned to perfection!
7oz semolina flour
7oz whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour
- You can make this dough using a stand mixer, but it's always turned out better when I do it by hand so I suggest you do too!
- Evenly combine the flours in a medium bowl, preferably one with a wide opening, then create a large well in the flour mixture.
- Crack the eggs into the well, and slightly beat them with a fork. Continue beating with your fork, slowly incorporating more and more of the flour.
- Once you've incorporated as much flour as possible, dump it all our onto the counter and knead the dough using any extra flour in the bowl to keep it from sticking to the counter.
- Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes, this ensures some serious gluten is formed so you can roll the dough super thin!
- Refrigerate dough in a sealed container or covered with plastic for at least 30 minutes (but up to 5 hours).
the cream sauce
1 medium sweet onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
5 cups whole milk, room temperature or warmed (warmed will speed up the cooking process)
2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
- First, we want to nicely brown the onions and garlic. Heat a medium pan over medium heat, then add about 2 Tbsp your oil of choice (butter, or olive oil). Once the oil has heated, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally. When onions have become translucent, add garlic. Let cook until both the onions and the garlic have browned significantly and are smelling heavenly!
- While the onions are cooking, you can work on the cream sauce. Start by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Once melted, slowly sprinkle in the flour while simultaneously whisking the mixture. Once all the flour is incorporated, let the mixture cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, and not letting it darken in color.
- Slowly add the milk to your butter and flour mixture (which is what we kitchen folks like to call a roux), whisking to evenly combine the mixture. Let the mixture cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened. This will take about 10 minutes or so, depending how warm your milk was to start off with.
- Once the sauce has thickened, stir in those onions and garlic along with the cheese and thyme.
- Add salt & pepper to taste.
1 recipe pasta dough (above) OR 1 box dried lasagna noodles
1 recipe cheesy cream sauce
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into thin slices (i like to use a mandoline to make fast work of this, but you can do it with a knife too - just cut them as thin as you're able to!)
1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Roll the pasta dough as you need it to form the lasagna, you should be able to cover each layer using 1/5 of the dough. I have the Kitchenaid Pasta Roller Attachment and like to roll the dough to #4, a little thicker than I do for most pastas. If you don't use all the dough, just make some extra pasta to dry for another day!
- If you're using dried lasagna noodles, cook them before forming the lasagna.
- Spread a thin layer of sauce across the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Create a layer of pasta over the sauce. Cover the pasta with a solid layer of kale, Use 1/3 of the kale in each layer, it'll cook down a ton! Next a layer of sweet potatoes, then a nice thick layer of sauce!
- Make three more layers just like that one, and top it off with one last layer of pasta and all the sauce you have left. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top, and you're ready for the oven!
- Bake at 400 degrees, covered with tented foil, for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake until the top is perfectly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes longer.
- Let cool about 15 minutes before serving.