This is essentially a cheat’s lasagne, made all the more pleasing by the anarchic splintering of pasta sheets to strew willy-nilly across your baking dish. As such, it is a great recipe to make with children: the quick tomato sauce is as delicious as it is easy, while getting hands-on with greens, such as cavolo nero, makes eating them far more compelling, especially when hidden under a cloud of finely grated parmesan.
Broken lasagne with cavolo nero, ricotta and tomato
If you can’t find cavolo nero, use any other mix of greens, such as spinach, chard or spring greens.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
4 garlic cloves, peeled; 2 finely sliced, 2 left whole
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper
500g cavolo nero, leaves stripped from the stem
100g parmesan, grated
Nutmeg, generously grated, to taste
250g fresh lasagne sheets
First, make the tomato sauce. Warm two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the garlic slices. Cook gently, stirring, for two to three minutes, until the garlic begins to colour and smell fragrant. Tip in the tomatoes, season, then blitz with a stick blender to a smooth sauce. Simmer briskly while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Bring a large pan of well-salted water to a boil (you are going to use the water twice, so make sure there is plenty) and add the cavolo nero and whole garlic. Simmer for six to eight minutes, until the cavolo nero is soft and tender, then scoop everything out into a colander and run under cold water to cool; keep the cooking water. Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6.
Squeeze the greens of excess water, put on a chopping board with the garlic, and chop finely. Transfer to a bowl, add the ricotta, half the parmesan, the remaining two tablespoons of oil and the nutmeg. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Return the pan of water to a boil. Break up the lasagne sheets into roughly three to four shards a sheet. Cook for two to three minutes to soften, then drain; reserve a cup of the cooking liquid. Stir the ricotta mix through the pasta, loosening it with the reserved cooking liquid, a little at a time – it should need about two-thirds of a cup for a lovely, wet sauce.
Empty into a baking dish and spoon over the tomato sauce. Scatter over the remaining parmesan, drizzle with a little oil, then bake for 15-20 minutes, until glistening and golden. This is perfect with a green salad.
And for the rest of the week
I find ricotta is useful for softening more robust flavours to which children might otherwise object – such as anchovies, chilli and spice – but also gets them on to a path of discovering different flavours. Try nutmeg in sweet dishes, too: I love it grated into a creamy custard.