Littler Bit has arrived, spelling the end of a rather tough pregnancy. My body and energy levels are bouncing back, but not so my sleep schedule. I now have a toddler and a newborn to contend with, so we'll see what effect this has on my cooking going forward. My sister, she of the Variations on a Theme recipes, is staying with us to help for a while. Shortly after arriving she mentioned having seen an idea somewhere for a rainbow lasagna, but without actually looking at what it entailed.
We have since spent the last few days bouncing ideas around and decided to try our own version tonight. Well received by all (except Little Bit, who as a toddler, objects to various elements of his food touching each other, a necessity in lasagna), so here it is. It is maybe an intimidating ingredient list, but assembly is very quick! Caution: the quantities below resulted in about two complete lasagna pans-worth -- about double what we had intended. This worked out well, as we now have ready-made leftovers. Reduce all ingredients except cheese and red pepper for a single dish.
2 beets, peeled and sliced
1 1/2c ricotta
2 c spinach (or 2 large cubes of frozen spinach)
3/4 c tinned tomato
1 c black beans - cooked or tinned
1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
2 zucchinis, thinly sliced
2 c butternut squash purée* (from roasted squash scooped out of its skin)
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise
2c grated cheese (we used gruyère- and raclette-type cheese leftover in the fridge)
1/3 c mascarpone
1/4 c whey, milk, or stock (we used whey)
~6 lasagna sheets
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp urfa biber
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp tarragon
Handful of pomegranate seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
* Could be replaced with pumpkin purée, either homemade or tinned (if you have the good fortune to live in a place where that is available to you).
1) Steam beets until al dente. Blitz with just enough whey, milk or stock to allow the blender to run smoothly. Add spinach, sage, thyme, tarragon and 1c ricotta. Set aside.
2) In a bowl, mix squash purée with 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, allspice and sumac. Add mascarpone and remaining ricotta. Set aside.
3) In another bowl, roughly mash up black beans with tomatoes, and add the urfa biber and remaining half teaspoon of cinnamon.
4) Brush a baking dish with melted butter. Line the bottom of the dish with lasagna sheets and brush with butter again. Spread beans and tomato mixture in a thin layer over the lasagna sheets and cover with eggplant slices. Spread a layer of the beet mixture and arrange a layer of zucchini sliced over the top. Sprinkle on a layer of grated cheese and then spread the squash mix, followed by the red pepper and another layer of cheese. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top and grind a generous amount of black pepper.
5) Bake at 180° C/350°F for 45-60 minutes. Seve hot (with a nice glass of red if so inclined).
We were very pleased with how this came out! Once his portion was deconstructed, even the toddler consented to have some. The consistency was a little goopy, resulting in a tendency to flow, rather than come out in nice squares. For structural integrity purposes, we should have used thinner layers of the puree, but we thought this would have been to the detriment of flavour -- after all, this is a meal, not an engineering project!
The squash layer, taste-tested prior to assembly, would be great to experiment with as the filling for a pie! It was sweet and dessert-y, with warm flavour notes and a rich, creamy texture.
We had intended to add orange zest to either the squash layer or the final layer, but forgot.
In terms of eating the rainbow, this tasted great, but the green and blue sort of got lost. To truly eat the rainbow, we would need to devise a green/blue layer that held its own a little better without overshadowing the others. For example, a layer of beet greens over the zucchini.
As a side note, the ricotta in this was homemade last week, as I had wanted to try freezing the ricotta. We defrosted it for this dish and found that it held its flavour well, although its texture was slightly grainier. This is a good solution for keeping ricotta on hand, as long as you don't need a smooth, whipped texture.
This could easily be made gluten-free, by simply omitting the pasta layer, which we included primarily for structural-integrity purposes.