Winter Greens Lasagna: great way to use up collard greens!

Winter Greens Lasagna: great way to use up collard greens!

One of the easiest ways to use of leftovers is to make a “lasagna.” I use the quotes because the term lasagna is used loosely here. Since coming back from  a recent trip to Florence, Italy I now know what authentic lasagna should taste like…but that is a topic for another post. I am back in the US and using the term “lasagna” to mean basically any baked flat noodle dish with sauce, filling, and cheese all baked together to result in a delicious casserole type meal.

After my New Year’s collard fix, I had leftover greens that were clean, chopped and needed to be used. In my search for how to use up the greens, I came across several lasagna recipes using spinach or swiss chard. So I thought, why not collards? I decided to take a risk and give it a try. It turned out to be a surprisingly tasty lasagna. The collards have a bit more bite than spinach, resulting in a lasagna that has a nice balance of flavor and texture. I added some chopped onion, red bell pepper, and kalmata olives to give the lasagna filling a Mediterranean twist. The end result was a delicious, healthy recipe that is a great way to use up leftover winter greens. The recipe below calls for collard greens in this version, but kale, swiss chard, etc. could be substituted. The key is to blanch the greens  for a few minutes to tenderize the them prior to baking in the lasagna. Oh yes, this is another vegetarian meal option that is hearty and flavorful enough for meat lovers to enjoy too!

Winter Collard Green Lasagna

9 lasagna noodles (no boil are ok, but I prefer regular)

1 chopped onion

1 chopped red bell pepper

garlic (optional)

1/2 cup chopped olives

4 cups fresh collard greens, washed and torn into pieces

one large egg, slightly beaten

salt and pepper

15 oz. whole milk ricotta

1 cup shredded low moisture mozzarella (feel free to use more, but I am watching my waistline…this is just enough for the perfect cheesy bite with each serving)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the ready made canned/jarred stuff..but fresh grated)

tomato sauce (I used a homemade version that has garlic, basil, oregano, and dried chili flakes as seasonings that I always have around, but you can just use 1 jar of your favorite store bought brand if you don’t have homemade sauce on hand)

To Make:

If using regular lasagna noodles, place noodles in pan with hot water. Let the noodles sit and soften while you are preparing the filing.

Boiled collard greens in a pot of boiling water until just tender. Remove from water and drain well. Depending on the size of the torn collards, chop into a rough chop and place in a large mixing bowl. Sauté the onions, red bell pepper in olive oil until just softened. If you like extra garlic, add chopped garlic to the onions and peppers and sauté for another minute (the tomato sauce I used had plenty of garlic so I skipped this step). Place sautéed veggies in mixing bowl with collards, add olives and stir to combine. To this mixture add ricotta and egg; salt and pepper to taste–mix together so that all ingredients are distributed evenly for the filling.

Lasagna filling: collards, red pepper, onion, olives, ricotta

Lasagna filling: collards, red pepper, onion, olives, ricotta

Assemble the lasagna: in a 9×13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan to cover. Top with a layer of 3 noodles, veggie filling, portion of mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce. Repeat layers ending with a layer of noodles, sauce then cheese as the top layers. Add parmesan cheese as extra cheesy topping.

Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges, heated through. You can check the warmth of the lasagna by sticking a knife in the center–checking the warmth of the knife tip to see if the lasagna is fully heated. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a bit then serve and enjoy!

Ready to slice for a perfect bite of winter greens lasagna

Ready to slice for a perfect bite of winter greens lasagna


It’s a New Years celebration…Black-eyed peas and Collard Greens!

Fresh collards...a New Year's must!

Fresh collards…a New Year’s must!

On a recent trip to Florence, Italy I came across one of my new favorite feel-good dishes–Ribollita. Ribollita is a basic, peasant-style thick soup that is perfect for the cold winter months. Traditional Ribollita is a vegetable and bread based soup that is served reboiled the next day topped with a dash of fresh olive oil. The original recipe calls for Tuscan kale and cannellini beans; however, my own traditions call for eating collard greens and black-eyed peas  on New Years day so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to adapt one of my favorite soups for ringing in 2013! Plus, my husband has yet to acquire a taste for collard greens and black-eyed peas, so each year I look for creative new ways to sneak them into our New Years day meal 🙂  This one is a winner! Plus, if you are making a New Year’s resolution to be “healthy” this is a hearty vegetarian, vegan (depending on the bread you use) dish that will please any carnivore or omnivore out there.

Tuscan tradition with a twist

Tuscan tradition with a twist

Note: The soup is traditionally made the day before serving then reboiled (hence the name Ribollita) the next day. If you are stretched for time go ahead and make it all in one day–it will still taste good.

Good Luck Ribollita

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

2 russet potatoes peeled and diced

1 15 oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch (about 7 cups) fresh collard greens, washed, rinsed, and shredded/torn into bite sized pieces

6 whole tomatoes, peeled (can use whole tomatoes from a can, just the tomato, not the juice)

crusty bread

good olive oil

salt & pepper

Mirepoix: a classic combo for many great soups...carrots, celery, onion

Mirepoix: a classic combo for many great soups…carrots, celery, onion

Ribollita in the making...needs to boil then simmer for 2 hours

Ribollita in the making…needs to boil then simmer for 2 hours

Crusty bread on top of a bit of delicious olive oil...just top with the ribollita then bake

Crusty bread on top of a bit of delicious olive oil…just top with the ribollita then bake

Ready to bake in the oven

Ready to bake in the oven

To make:

In a large dutch oven or other heavy bottom pot head olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery and cook until soft–approximately 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, 1 tsp. salt, potatoes, and cook for about 3-5 minutes, you can crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the greens and beans. Pour 6-7 cups of water in the soup and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. About 1 1/2 hours into the cooking, use an immersion blender to roughly blend the soup to create a bit of thickness. Don’t over-blend–you want to the soup to still be rustic and chunky with a variety of textures from the vegetables and beans. Add 1 cup of torn stale crusty bread and continue to cook with the lid off to thicken the soup if needed. At this point the soup is pretty much done. You can continue the recipe at this point, but it won’t be real “ribollita/reboiled.”

To finish the ribollita, the next day bring the soup to room temperature. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using oven-proof soup crock or any other oven proof bowl add a little olive oil to the bowls to coat the bottom. Place a slice or two of crusty bread in the bottom of the bowl, then top with the soup. Bake in the oven until bubbly and heated through. To serve, add high quality olive oil to each bowl as a topping to the soup and garnish with fresh cracked black pepper.  I must admit…this soup is well worth the wait and I think it will be my newly established New Year’s lucky soup. Happy 2013!!

Lucy Ribollita

Lucky Ribollita

2012 in review

Another year of blogging. This is a summary report WordPress puts together for its bloggers each year. Overall my posts this year were a bit slower and the blog experienced an unfortunate hick-up (losing all of my previous pictures) but all-in-all…the blog survived 2012! What will 2013 have in store for “the search 4 the perfect bite”? Keep checking back and you will find out….Happy New Year to you all!!!

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Well…I am officially still a blogging dummy. After almost 2 years of posts, I accidentally deleted all of the photos from the  previous blog entries. I was doing some end-of-the-year cleaning of my media files and little did I know…delete from Media Library means delete from link to blog! The text and recipes are still there…so feel free to browse, but the pictures are “deleted permanently”

Roast Turkey Roulade with steamed green beans--Perfect Holiday Bite!

Roast Turkey Roulade with steamed green beans–Perfect Holiday Bite!

I am waaaayyy behind on my blogging. The past few months of 2012 have been incredibly busy, but I am excited to wrap this year up and start anew in 2013 in just a few days!

This is a great recipe for a Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any special dinner calling for roast turkey. My favorite part of the turkey (with the exception of fried turkey skin) is a slice of juicy turkey breast meat. This year, rather than cooking an entire whole turkey, I opted to buy just the turkey breast. I was only feeding two, so a large bird would just be too much food. However, I didn’t want to compromise the luscious stuffing that accompanies roasting a whole bird. I found a great option from Ina Garten for a turkey roulade that I decided to give a try with a few adaptations to make the perfect bite of turkey breast and stuffing.

Depending on the size of the turkey breast you buy, you can adjust the proportions of stuffing ingredients. As written, you will have extra stuffing to cook in a separate pan for an excellent side dish to the turkey.

A note on the turkey breast prep: If you have access to a butcher who will de-bone the breast while preserving the integrity of the skin on the outside consider your self lucky and go for that option. If you are like me and pick up your meats at the supermarket with no special requests, de-boning the turkey breast will take a bit of work–but the upside is that your really learn the anatomy of a turkey! You want to end up with one, intact turkey breast with the skin still on. The skill keeps the turkey moist and adds to the flavor and color of the roasted roulade. But don’t be intimidated…this was my first attempt at deboning a turkey breast. I just looked up a few YouTube videos before attempting it on my own. The videos make it look easy…it took me a little longer and my cuts were not quite as clean but overall it was totally doable and worth the effort.

Holiday Turkey Roulade


  • ½ cup each of dried currants, large-diced dried figs (stems removed), dried cranberries, or any other dried fruits you like or have on hand
  • ½  cup Calvados, brandy, or AppleJack whiskey (for a non-alcoholic version use apple cider)
  • 2 Tbsp  unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 diced onions (yellow or white), approx 1 ½ cups
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • ½ lb. hot pork sausage, casings removed
  • ½ lb. sweet pork sausage, casings removed
  • 1 ½ Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts or walnuts, toasted (pine nuts are more expensive, walnuts are perfectly acceptable substitute)
  • 3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock
  • 1  egg, beaten
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 whole (2 halves) turkey breast, boned and butterflied –see note above
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

To make:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the stuffing:

In a small saucepan combine dried fruits, brandy (or whichever cooking liquid you prefer–see ingredient options above) and ½ cup of water, bringing the mixture to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Warning, do not pour alcoholic liquids in the saucepan while on the burner–if you have a gas stovetop–you do not want flame ups 🙂

In a  large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter with olive oil, add onions and celery. Cook until softened and onions are translucent (approx 5-7 min). Add the sausage and crumble with a fork or spoon as it cooks. Cook through until sausage is no longer pink and has browned. Add dried fruits (with liquid from the saucepan), rosemary, and nuts; cook an additional 2-3 minutes until combined

In a large mixing bowl combine bread stuffing mix, sausage mixture, chicken stock, beaten egg, 1 tsp salt ½ tsp pepper, stir until all stuffing ingredients are mixed well.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well.

To prepare the turkey roulade:


Trussed, stuffed and ready to roast!

Place prepared turkey breast on a cutting board skin side down. Season turkey with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing in an approx ½ in layer over the meat. Leave a ½ inch border on all sides so for ease of rolling the turkey. Place remaining stuffing in a lightly greased baking dish to be cooked separately for 45 minutes. Roll the stuffed turkey starting at one of the shorter ends (you will not be rolling from the top/tail part of the breast but rolling so that the turkey rolls back into its original shape). Once rolled, use twine to tie the turkey roulade firmly into a tight cylinder form. Place the turkey seam-side down onto a roasting rack on a baking sheet pan. Brush skin with melted butter, season with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 2 hours until the internal temperature is 150 degrees—you want to check the temperature in a few places to endure the turkey is cooked fully and you are not testing the temperature of the stuffing rather than the meat. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice and enjoy!


Roasted, resting Turkey Roulade


Carved Turkey Roulade with Sausage Stuffing

Bizarre Veggies–Roasted!

Roasted Romanesco and Yellow Cauliflower

At the farmers market a few weeks ago as I was picking up my last CSA box, I encountered a bizarre veggie that I could not resist buying and figuring out what to do with–Romanesco Broccoli. Romanesco broccoli is an Italian broccoli that has a similar texture as that of cauliflower. You can use it for pastas, risotto, or as I have…just a delicious roasted side dish.  The flavor is mild, the texture is crunchy and all-together it is a wonderful combination of broccoli and cauliflower that just happens to look like it grew on Mars.

Romanesco Broccoli

So for the recipe–it is a safe, simple way to experiment with new veggies–roasting. Roasting is so simple and a great way to cook any hearty veggie. The roasting time depends on how “crispy brown” you like your veggies. I opt to have differing sizes of the veggies cut so that some pieces get really crunchy and brown while others are lighter and crisp tender.


  • olive oil, enough to coat veggies
  • Romanesco broccoli
  • Yellow cauliflower
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes

To make:

Preheat oven to 400-425. In a large bowl, mix cut Romanesco broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Place veggies in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes–or until brown and crisped to your liking. You can give the veggies a stir half way through for more even browning. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Delicious, Strange, Veggies: roasted yellow cauliflower & romanesco broccoli

Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza

Better than BAR pizza…

One of my favorite pizza’s is a pizza from BAR restaurant in New Haven, CT. It is their white pizza topped with mashed potato and bacon. I know…it sounds crazy, but is it absolutely delicious!  I have not been back to New Haven in a while and was really in the mood for recreating this spectacular pie. So…with a little experimentation, I think I found a winner. Here is my version of “Better than Bar Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza”.  The toppings taste better, but I will admit the crust from BAR (or really any New Haven pizzeria takes the prize). I am pretty sure this version is much healthier than what you would order in a restaurants and it has the added farm-to-table appeal because I was able to use fresh potatoes and broccoli from my CSA box. Like most home cooks, I don’t have the luxury of a brick fire pit to get that classic charred New Haven style crust, but for a home version this is a great option. By using a pre-made thin crust pizza dough and cooked it on a pizza stone you can get pretty close for a home version, but for the real experience I recommend a pizza tour of New Haven, CT.

Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza

Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza


thin pizza crust (store-bought or make your own)

3-4 medium white potato, or 2 large

4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half

extra virgin olive oil

sour cream

whole milk



cheese (I used an Italian blend)

salt & pepper (white pepper if you have it)


Preheat the oven to 400-450 degrees with the pizza stone in the oven. If you are not using a pizza stone then I recommend preheating a baking sheet at 400.

Prep the pizza topping ingredients: For the  mashed potatoes, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Add potatoes and garlic to a pot of boiling water and boil until fork tender. Meanwhile cook the bacon until crisp and tear into small pieces. Steam or par-boil the broccoli until just tender. When the potatoes and garlic are soft, remove from water and place into a bowl to mash. If you have a food mill, use the food mill using a medium grate disc to make light and fluffy garlic mashed potatoes. Add 1/2 cup sour cream and pour milk until the potatoes are soft, creamy and to the consistency you desire. Salt and pepper the potatoes to taste. If you prefer chunkier potatoes mash by hand.

Assemble the pizza: Spread a generous layer of olive oil all over the pizza dough to coat. Layer the mashed potatoes onto the pizza, add a thin layer of cheese, add the bacon and broccoli, drizzle a light layer of olive oil, then top with more cheese.  There is no real science to the amount of toppings you use so feel free to experiment!

Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is brown and crispy! Let cool for a few minutes before cutting. And lastly…ENJOY 🙂

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