I have silver beet (Swiss Chard) in the garden, one of the easiest green leafy vegetable to grow in New Zealand! I usually pick the leaves as I need them, but two of my old winter plants are starting to grow heads so I decided to cut them before is too late.
For this recipe first I washed two big bunches of silver beet and cook them. I boiled the white stalks first, and then the green leaves. To do this I put the stalks in a big pot with a little water, and a pinch of salt, then after they have simmered for 5 minutes I add the leaves but no more water: the steam is enough to cook the leaves.
Then I made a thick besciamelle: I melted 100 g salted butter, took the pan off the stove and quickly mixed in 100 g flour, then back on the stove and slowly added 1 l milk. I stirred well until thick, and then I added salt to taste, white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.
In the meantime I cooked 500 g of pasta, I drained it and dressed it with a couple of tbsp of besciamelle, then I placed it in a lasagna dish. I placed the silver beet stalks on top first, and then green leaves as a third layer. I covered everything with the remaining besciamelle. A super generous dusting of grated parmesan cheese on top, and straight into the oven until the crust was golden. This baked pasta cuts like a dream and it is super easy!
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini©