Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gluten Free Kale and Pepper lasagna

Happy New Year.  I don't make resolutions in general, but I hope to get my recipes rolling again.  So it's more of a hope, and not a resolution!  I'm happy to say I have recently hit 12,000 page visits since I started this blog and they just keep a-rollin' in, despite my failure to generate new content on a regular basis. The new twist to my recipes is that I'm going gluten-free for 2 months per my doctor's suggestion due to a possible auto-immune / connective tissue disorder which I'm being evaluated for.  Either way for the next 6 weeks (I've already done 2 weeks) I vow not to eat any gluten, and so far so good. Not sure I have noticed any difference in how I feel, but I'll keep doing it just to see how it goes.

Remember how I told you that I put bell peppers in almost everything? It's true... here's another recipe to bolster that claim!

Last night I whipped up a gluten-free lasagna with some good bell peppers, kale, and homemade meat-sauce. It turned out rather scrumptious and I'm happy to say that the lasagna noodles I got from Tinkyada brand were quite tasty. I can't say I would have noticed that they were any different from a regular pasta, so that is a good achievement in both taste and texture. 

I'm hoping that I have not inadvertently left some other gluten-filled product here in the recipe.  I'm still learning how to read labels, and so far I think I know what to avoid, but sometimes I forget to check the ingredients.  (Who knew that the second ingredient in soy sauce was wheat? Not me!)  Feel free to experiment in this recipe with other vegetables that you like -- the basic meat sauce can also just be altered for veggies only, if you're a vegetarian. 

1 package brown rice lasagna noodles
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes + approx. 1 can of water
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 lb. of ground beef or Italian pork sausage, or 1/2 lb of each
1/2 large white or yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
2 stems/ leaves of kale
2 medium to large cloves garlic
1 cup ricotta cheese (Optional-- I did not have any last night, but would usually put some in.)
3 cups grated mozzarella 1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper


Dice the onion, and bell pepper and saute them over medium heat, with some olive oil until a bit softened.  While that is in the skillet, strip the leafy part of the kale off the stem, and chop that into small bite-size pieces.  Scoop out the bell pepper and onion mixture and set it aside in a bowl.  Add the kale to the empty skillet with a little more oil and stir it around until bright green and wilted.  Stir in minced garlic cloves for the last minute or two, and mind that it does not get scorched or stuck.  Put the kale in the same bowl as the pepper, and onion mixture.

Now use the skillet to brown all the beef or pork.  Sprinkle in salt, and pepper, oregano and paprika.  Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste** to the skillet, plus water, and stir it all around until it makes a nice thick sauce. If you added too much water, just let it simmer down for a while.  Lastly, stir in all the vegetables to the meat sauce.  (** The easiest way to empty out a can of tomato paste is to use the can opener to open both sides of the can.  Remove one of the 'lids' and leave the other one on, and and push it up from one side with your finger, so the sauce comes out on the other end, like one of those sorbet-pops in the cardboard tube! You know what I'm talking about? While you're doing that, reserve 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and mix with 3 oz of water in another little cup, this will be poured on the very top layer of the lasagna before baking it.)

While you have worked on the sauce components, prepare the lasagna noodles according to package directions and set them aside in cold water until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Spread some olive oil on the bottom of a lasagna dish, and place three or four lasagna noodles in a glass baking dish.  Spread half the meat sauce on top of that, add ricotta (if using) and half the mozzarella.  Put another few lasagna noodles on top of that and more sauce (and ricotta if applicable.)  Lastly, top with remaining noodles, spread with the remaining tomato paste/water mixture, and top with the rest of the mozzarella.

Bake in a 375 degree oven until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, and you can see some 'simmering' happening through the glass dish, which is about 20 minutes.

Let sit for a few minutes before slicing into it. Extra good with a glass of red wine!


  1. Cool. I'm always looking for more ways to eat kale... also, I would love for you too start making vids and putting them on youtube! Will you please?

  2. Oh gosh, thanks, Desi!! I don't know if I would know the first thing about editing videos (we don't even own a video camera, nor a Smart Phone type contraption to make videos with) but if I ever get around to doing that (I'm sure we'll buy a video camera when we have kidlets) then I'll do my best to incorporate video into my cooking ideas! Thanks for suggesting it!