After several attempts at making a quick lasagna, I realized that the traditional methods and layers such as the meat sauce, the noodles, the white béchemal sauce, etc, were the reasons why lasagna is never ‘quick’. This time around, I was determined to not only come up with a quick lasagna, but one that was healthier than its traditional cousin, gluten free, vegetarian, AND one that would use up some of the mountain of curly parsley that I’d recently brought inside to save from the frost.
The idea to use parsley is actually quite traditional. In Italian cooking, you will occasionally see a tomato sauce (such as in a polenta casserole) where parsley is fried in oil and butter before adding the tomatoes, so I’ve done that here as well. You can reduce the amount of parsley in the recipe as it is a prominent flavour in the lasagna, but if you too have a mountain to tackle, then stick to the recipe.
This applies to any mountain of greens you may have on hand, of course. Feel free to add a layer of seasonal greens – nearly any one will work including spinach, kale, chard, arugula, Asian greens or parsley- just sauté them first.
Wine is a surprise addition to this lasagna and is used to steam-cook the sweet potatoes while evaporating faster than water would do; this way we can avoid any excess liquid in our lasagna. It does of course add the taste of wine, but if you love other dishes that use wine, such as risotto, then you will love this one too!
I find cooking lasagna noodles to be quite time-consuming, so we’re straying from tradition, skipping the noodles completely, and using small corn tortillas instead. I recommend buying them from a health-food store, such as Nature’s Fare or Choices in B.C, and they’re typically found in the freezer section. Ideally buy organic or non-gmo corn tortillas.
Quick Lasagna with Sweet Potatoes
Serves 3 (or 2+next day lunch) and easily doubled
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes
The parsley-tomato sauce:
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 ½ packed cups parsley (no stems) then finely chopped (feel free to reduce the amount of parsley)
unsalted butter and oil
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup water
1 cup plain tomato sauce or tomato passatta
The ricotta cheese topping:
1 cup ricotta
½ tsp paprika (hot or sweet)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
big pinches of salt and black pepper (freshly ground is best)
The sweet potato/tortilla filling:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise into roughly ¼” slices
4 small corn tortillas, cut into quarters
½ cup red or white wine
½ cup grated, mild cheese (white cheddar, mozzarella, provolone all work well)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
It goes like this:
- In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, sweat the garlic in 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil for a minute (stir to prevent browning), then add the chopped parsley and a pinch of salt and cook for another minute.
- Add the tomato paste and gradually stir in a tablespoon of water at a time until it has a sauce texture, then add the 1 cup of tomato passatta or tomato sauce. Add more water if the sauce looks too thick. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, spices and salt.
- In a small roasting pan (13×9, or you can use a large pan if doubling the recipe), spread several tablespoons of the parsley-tomato sauce to roughly cover the base of the pan.
- Make a single layer of sweet potato, then spread 2-3 Tbsps of sauce so that it reaches every potato slice.
- Add a layer of quartered tortillas and cover with more sauce. Add another layer of sweet potato, then pour over the ½ cup of wine.
- Top with the ricotta cheese mixture, followed by the grated cheese and a pinch of black pepper.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F, then increase the heat to 420°F and cook for another 15 minutes. (Note: the time it takes for the oven temperature to increase to 420 is included in the 15 minutes).
- Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.