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Greens are de­li­cious by any stan­dard, whether quickly wilted, stir-fried, long-cooked, or chopped for a fill­ing. I am sorry when I see peo­ple dis­card­ing leafy tops, such as beet­root greens, as you can cook them; radish and turnip tops, too, are won­der­ful.

Broc­coli rabe lasagna Serves 6-8

Broc­coli rabe (or rap­ini) have buds that re­sem­ble broc­coli but do not form a large head. The leaves, ten­der stems and broc­coli-like buds have a distinc­tive pleas­ant bit­ter­ness and deep flavour.

For the béchamel sauce

— 4 tbsp but­ter — 30g plain flour — 260ml sin­gle cream mixed with 260ml full-fat milk, heated, plus a lit­tle more if nec­es­sary — ½ tsp salt — pinch of cayenne — grated nut­meg

For the lasagna

— 450g dried lasagna sheets

or noo­dles — 2 bunches broc­coli rabe (about

900g), tough stems trimmed — 4 gar­lic cloves, grated

or minced — 130ml ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil — 450g ri­cotta — ½ tsp grated lemon zest — 4 tbsp but­ter, soft­ened — 115g Parme­san, or a com­bi­na­tion of Parme­san and pecorino, grated

To make the béchamel, melt the but­ter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute, with­out brown­ing.

Grad­u­ally whisk in the cream and milk mix­ture, about 100ml at a time, un­til you have a smooth, lightly thick­ened sauce.

Turn the heat to low, add the salt and cayenne, and nut­meg to taste, sea­son with black pep­per, and cook, whisk­ing, for 4-5 min­utes. Thin the sauce if nec­es­sary with a lit­tle more of the cream mix­ture – you want a pourable con­sis­tency. Place the saucepan in a sink­ful of hot wa­ter to keep the sauce warm.

Bring a large pan of well­salted wa­ter to a boil. Add the lasagna sheets or noo­dles and cook for five min­utes. Lift them from the wa­ter with a slot­ted spoon or tongs and rinse well in a bowl of cold wa­ter. Drain and lay flat on a clean tea towel.

Blanch the broc­coli rabe in the same cook­ing wa­ter for one minute, un­til just wilted. Drain in a colan­der, rinse with cool wa­ter, and squeeze dry. Roughly chop the broc­coli rabe.

Put about 225g of the chopped greens, the gar­lic, and olive oil in a food pro­ces­sor or blender and purée to make the pesto. Sea­son with salt and pep­per to taste and trans­fer to a small bowl.

Mix the ri­cotta and lemon zest in a small bowl and sea­son to taste.

Heat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Use two ta­ble­spoons of but­ter to grease a 20x25cm bak­ing dish.

To as­sem­ble the dish, put a quar­ter of the cooked lasagna or noo­dles on the bot­tom of the bak­ing dish. Spoon a quar­ter of the béchamel over the top, then dot with a third of the ri­cotta. Com­plete the layer with onethird of the chopped greens, a good driz­zle of pesto, and about a quar­ter of the grated cheese. Con­tinue the lay­er­ing, fin­ish­ing with the last of the béchamel, and sprin­kle with the re­main­ing Parme­san (you will have four lay­ers of pasta and three lay­ers of fill­ing). Dot the top with the re­main­ing two ta­ble­spoons of but­ter. (The lasagna can be as­sem­bled in ad­vance and left at room tem­per­a­ture for up to three hours.)

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 min­utes. Un­cover and bake for 20 min­utes more, or un­til nicely browned on top and bub­bling.

Let the lasagna rest for 10 min­utes be­fore serv­ing. (Or set aside for up to sev­eral hours and re­heat in the oven be­fore serv­ing.) More recipes over­leaf

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