Tis the season where the veggies all seem to have an Oprah voice. Chard is poppin' off, sweet peas are earning their namesake, and fennel has taken the throne as spring's official mascot. I love this season so much. The air is sweeter, and everything is in bloom. It just makes me want to take a big, fat, deep breath before my hair is all, "Hai, humidity!". This is the season that made me fall in love with Austin- I can't believe I'll have been here a year this month! Truly, fastest year of my life.
Since I've been frequenting Agua Dulce Farms - AKA - the thing I can't shut up about, we've been #blessed with all the greens we could hope for. Honestly, I look like a total zombie in that greenhouse because I'm just all heart eyes emojis over lettuces. That being said, we've been throwing them in everything humanly possible. We also got some really delicious fennel from them, which immediately makes my mind go to Italian sausage. This pasta comes together in about 30 minutes, and is packed with nutrient-dense veggies. It's equal parts hearty, light and herbaceous, with extra chopped fennel fronds, micro arugula greens, and a simple basil oil that isn't mandatory, but highly recommended. You could even go fully veg, and forego the sausage, which I guarantee would be equally delicious.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat a scant amount of olive oil on medium-high, and add your sausage. Allow to brown for a couple minutes before beginning to saute. Add your mushrooms, and chopped thyme, and cook until golden brown and sausage is fully cooked through. Season with a sprinkle of salt, and spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil, and set aside.
Add your broken lasagna to your boiling water, and cook until al dente.
Heat the skillet you cooked your sausage in on medium. Add your butter, and once melted, your fennel. Saute until translucent, and add your garlic. Deglaze your pan with your lemon juice, and add your chicken stock. Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes. While this is simmering, grab a second skillet, add a tablespoon of butter, and a drizzle of olive oil, and heat on medium. Add your swiss chard, snap peas, red pepper flakes, salt, and saute for just a minute or so.
After your sauce has simmered for about 3 minutes, cut the heat, and taste for seasoning. Season with salt and pepper.
Add your pasta directly from the pasta water to your sauce, along with your sausage and mushroom mixture, and your chard/snap pea mixture, tossing to coat everything.
To serve, top with chopped fennel fronds, and any microgreen you can find! I happened to get some arugula micros from the farm, and they were such a great addition. Imagine the spiciness of arugula packed into a tiny vehicle so it's intensified. I'm v into it. If you can't get your paws on those, some freshly chopped parsley would be perfect. Lemon zest for extra tartness, and as mah girl Ina Garten would say, so people know what's going on inside the pasta, is an excellent choice. Basil oil is delicious, and easy, and everyone should just make some and throw it in their fridge because...self care? I don't know, just do it. Simply grab a handful of basil leaves, drizzle in about 1/2 a cup of olive oil and blend the hell out of it with some salt and pepper. It's like the bright lipstick of this pasta. Necessary? No. But it really makes your eyes look pretty, so we do it. Extra parm is the obvious final move for serving, because isn't pasta just a parmigiano vehicle?
I don't know why lasagna has always been this like, one-purpose pasta. Sure, those lasagna roll-ups that have been circling the internets look downright delicious, but why isn't it used more in just every-day pasta applications? The texture is amazing, it has great surface area, and it kind of automatically makes whatever you're pairing it with somehow heartier. I'm into it. That being said, all of these things would make one helluva delicious spring lasagna. I'm a complicated lady.
Broken Lasagna with Sausage, Fennel, Rainbow Chard, Mushrooms, Peas, Lemony Pan Sauce, and Parm
1 box lasagna, broken into about 2" x 3" pieces
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1 bunch swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves roughly
1 cup snap peas
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds chopped
1/2 lb. container of mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
Juice + zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, to serve
Basil oil, to serve (optional)