I absolutely love beets. I don’t care that they stain my fingers for days or I run the risk of ruining my concrete countertops every time I roast and peel them with reckless abandon. Especially for this lasagna. It’s rich, yet healthy; vegetarian, yet filling. Ooey, gooey goodness with garden-fresh ingredients. This can be done gluten-free, if you wish. I usually use rice lasagna noodles and double the béchemel (made from oat flour) – you definitely don’t need twice as much, but I like a little more than the recipe calls for (plus it’s easier to multiply by two than it is 1.5). NOTE: my alterations and comments are below in italics.
RECIPE: Lasagna with Roasted Beets and Herb Béchemel
6 medium-size red beets (roast, cool and peel ahead of time)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallot or onion
3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour (I use oat flour for added fiber and to eliminate wheat)
3 cups milk (I use goat or unsweetened almond)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, tarragon and chives (definitely don’t leave out the tarragon!)
1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles (or rice lasagna noodles)
(1 cup) freshly grated Parmesan (do NOT use the green can!!)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish or lidded ovenproof casserole. Add 1/4 inch water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast 40 to 45 minutes, until the beets are easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the béchamel. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot or onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, but not browned. It should have the texture of wet sand. Whisk in the milk all at once and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is thick and has lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Strain while hot into a large measuring cup or a medium bowl and stir in the chopped herbs and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a rectangular baking dish. Spread a spoonful of béchamel over the bottom. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon a thin layer of the béchamel over the noodles. Top with a layer of beets and sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of lasagna noodles topped with béchamel and Parmesan. Make sure the noodles are well coated with béchamel so they will be sure to soften during baking.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake 45minutes, until the noodles are tender and the mixture is bubbling. Uncover and bake another 15-20 minutes until the top begins to brown. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.
Advance preparation: You can assemble this up to a day ahead and refrigerate, or freeze for a month. The lasagna can be baked several hours ahead and reheated in a medium oven.
Nutritional information per serving: 291 calories; 11 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 17 milligrams cholesterol; 35 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 307 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 14 grams protein.
** This recipe is from Martha Rose Shulman, contributor for the NY Times; photography by Andrew Scrivani.