I like to have a vegetarian offering, and this winter greens recipe has been the most popular of my attempts. Even my family and friends who are not Swiss chard and kale fans often end up choosing this over my hearty beef bolognese lasagna.
If baking lasagna immediately, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. I prepare lasagna early that morning and refrigerate until two hours before dinner.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When oil starts to shimmer, add onion and garlic seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until softened, stirring, which should take about 5 minutes.
Add cream and two handfuls of kale and chard at a time, stirring, and until all greens are tender, completely wilted and coated in cream, which should take about 10 minutes. Season again with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and remove from heat.
Spread 1 cup of the creme fraiche evenly over the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Cover with a layer of 4 noodles, overlapping slightly. Using a slotted spoon, spread 1/3 of the greens and cream mixture over the noodles, and then cover with a 1/3 of the ricotta and 1/4 of the Parmesan cheeses. Repeat to make two more layers, ending with a final layer of noodles on top. Evenly pour 1/4 cup of warm cream sauce from greens over the noodles. Mix together the remaining creme fraiche and Parmesan and spread it evenly over the top.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake on middle rack in oven at 400 degrees until bubbling and starting to brown, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil at this time and bake until the top is browned and sauce is bubbling, probably about 10 minutes longer. Allow lasagna to sit at room temperature at least 10 minutes before serving.
Have you made creme fraiche before? It's worth the extra effort, but you'll have to remember to prepare the day before when you're making your bechamel for the lasagna bolognese. In a non-reactive bowl, combine the heavy cream and buttermilk, cover with a clean kitchen cloth in a warm, draft-free place and let sit until thickened, but still a pourable consistency. This will take 12 to 16 hours. Once proper consistency, stir and refrigerate until ready to use. That's it! Easy, and better than store purchased sour cream, but sour cream a suitable substitute. (Creme fraiche can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)