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Who can resist the taste and comfort of a hearty lasagna — the ultimate labor of love! And if you have traditional beef lasagna on repeat, it’s time to shake things up a bit with fresh ideas and unique ingredients.
With a few recipe shortcuts such as no-boil lasagna sheets and store-bought marinara, the kale and bacon lasagna combine traditional flavors with a twist of something new. Beef mince is replaced with sweet, smoky, crispy bacon immersed in a delicious, veggie-loaded tomato and basil sauce. Whole wheat lasagna sheets and kale bump up the fiber and nutrition.
This recipe may be a tad lighter on the wallet and waistband and a dream to prepare, but it is still oozing with cheesy goodness and incredible flavor. A gorgeous recipe for slow Sundays, but simple enough to whip up on a weeknight too.
Tomato, Kale And Bacon Layer:
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 leeks halved lengthways and finely chopped
- 2 carrots grated
- 10 oz lean smoked back bacon diced into small pieces
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 4 cups jarred marinara sauce
- 2 bunches curly kale destemmed and leaves roughly chopped
- ½ tsp red chili flakes optional
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 cup basil leaves finely chopped
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 4 cups full-fat cottage cheese
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 12 no-boil whole wheat lasagna sheets
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9×12 inch deep baking dish with olive oil and set it aside.
- Prepare the kale and bacon mixture: Place the oil, leeks, and carrots in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
- Cook and stir continuously for about 4 minutes, until the veggies have softened slightly.
- Carefully add the bacon, garlic, and honey. Fry, stirring frequently, for 5-8 minutes until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. (Honey, together with the carrots, will sweeten the sauce, ‘glaze’ the bacon and cut through the acidity).
- Lower the heat and tip in the marinara sauce, kale, and spices.
- Bring everything to a gentle simmer, stir and cook for about 5 minutes, until the kale leaves are slightly soft. Remove the tomato and bacon mixture from the heat and set aside to cool, then stir in the chopped basil.
- Prepare the cheese layer: Place the Parmesan, cottage cheese, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Set the bowl aside.
- Time to assemble! Begin by spreading a generous layer of the tomato, kale, and bacon mixture over the bottom of the baking dish. Add 3 sheets of lasagna.
- Top the sheets of lasagna with half of the cottage cheese mixture, and cover with another 3 pasta sheets.
- Repeat the order of layering, finishing with a layer of lasagna sheets covered with the remaining cheese or tomato mixture.
- Sprinkle and cover the top with grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake it happen: Place the lasagna on a tray and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the tomato sauce bubbles up around the edges, the pasta is soft, and the cheese is golden on top.
- Allow the lasagna to stand for 10-15 minutes to set (the hardest part!), then slice into 6 large squares to serve.
Notes & Tips
- Check on the lasagna often — the type of oven, baking dish, and ingredients used will influence the cooking time. An overcooked lasagna with mushy noodles is difficult to salvage!
- If your cheese layer starts to brown or crisp too soon, cover the lasagna with a layer of aluminum foil.
- Store leftover kale and bacon lasagna in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
- This recipe can be made in advance: Assemble the lasagna, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking.
- It’s freezer-friendly too: Assemble the lasagna, seal tightly with cling film, then foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and unwrap before baking for best results.
- For extra tips, ingredient substitutions, and fascinating facts about lasagna, head on over to All About Lasagna.
These sides will turn your kale and bacon lasagna into an absolute feast!
- A sweet, light and refreshing coleslaw or apple and walnut salad will balance the warm and hearty lasagna.
- Are you looking for something simple and guilt-free? Toss some leafy greens such as baby spinach, arugula, lettuce, and herbs with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, and season to taste.
- While the lasagna is bubbling away, add a tray of chopped veggies to the oven. Roughly dice some zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and roast until tender.
- Go antipasto – add a few kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, grapes, slices of cured meat, and cheese to the plate.
- Keep it Italian with a slice or two of focaccia, ciabatta, or asiago bread to soak up every last bit of that irresistible lasagna sauce.
- Swap the kale for an equivalent amount of Swiss chard or spinach. (Spinach cooks a lot faster, so only add it into the sauce just before you stir in the basil leaves).
- For a gluten-free dish: Use gluten-free or legume-based lasagna sheets.
- Are you on the keto train? Replace the lasagna sheets with extra-thin zucchini slices.
- Whole milk ricotta can be used in place of cottage cheese.
- Pancetta makes an excellent alternative to bacon.
- Purists can incorporate ground beef, chicken, or turkey into the marinara sauce and swap out the ricotta mixture for the more traditional bechamel sauce.
- Replace the bacon with cooked lentils and mushrooms for a bump of protein and a vegetarian twist.
- We didn’t forget about the vegans! As there is a load of dairy in this recipe, try this delicious Vegan Pesto Lasagna instead.