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Spicy Kale Lasagna

Spicy Kale Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those rare dishes that has it all – it’s comforting, but at the same time elegant. It’s substantial, yet also fairly economical. It can involve meat, but easily stand on its own without. Basically, it’s the perfect versatile entrée – to serve for guests, or a cozy night in (thank you, Italy!).

It seems that many families have their own favorite recipe for this dish. For whatever reason it wasn’t a staple in my household, so Alex and I had to forge our way into new territory on this one. I loved the idea of using kale, especially since it’s seasonal and can be picked up here if you’re local. (Feel free to substitute spinach or another dark leafy green if you’re not as big of a kale fan as we are!)

However, I was a little overly optimistic about the effort involved in creating our own “simple and healthy” seasonal lasagna recipe. Three pans and a lot of research later, we’ve finally emerged with a recipe that we enjoy. We hope you’ll enjoy it as well…and that this week’s pasta overdose has not been in vain!


Spicy Kale Lasagna

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Yield: 8


  • 1 1/4 pounds kale (around 3 bunches)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (with herbs if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pound no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles (or noodles cooked according to the package instructions)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare the kale: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove the stems from the kale. Boil the kale leaves for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Using a towel, wring out as much water as possible from the kale. Chop it and season with kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Make the tomato sauce: Meanwhile, mince 3 cloves garlic. In a cold saucepan, combine garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 scant teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less depending on your spice tolerance), and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to medium high heat, stirring as the mixture heats up. Saute for about 30 seconds, then add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
  4. Make the filling: Strain out all liquid from the 4 cups cottage cheese (squeeze it in a strainer). Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.
  5. Assemble the lasagna: Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking dish. Cover the sauce with a layer of noodles, then half of the cheese mixture, half of the kale, and half of the remaining sauce. Add another layer of noodles, the remaining cheese, and the remaining kale. Top with the remaining noodles, then the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Adapted from Vegetarian Times

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  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I love the idea of doing a spicy version of the leafy green. I’ve done variations on vegetable lasagna with both red sauces and bechamel/white sauces. Usually my vegetable filling is just a combination of whatever leafy green vegetable plus whatever other vegetables I may have on hand. I recommend slicing up some mushrooms or bell peppers and sauteing them together, then mixing with cheese mixture (I usually use ricotta, parmesean mixed with one egg and salt and pepper). My layers are sauce, cheese/vegetable mix, noodle, sauce, etc.

    • Reply
      February 10, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Sounds excellent! We were going for a “simple-ish” recipe so did not add extra veggies, but we’ll definitely try that as a future variation!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Lasagna is on my short list, and this looks great! Fantastic photo.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    This sounds great! Definitely a new spin on lasagna that I’m hoping to try soon!

  • Reply
    Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul
    February 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Sounds and looks delicious. I realized that I don’t eat enough pasta!
    I’m going to try this asap!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    yummy way to include kale looks delicious

  • Reply
    Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit
    February 2, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I think you did a great job making it healthier! It looks absolutely delicious. I love that you tried it with kale. I’ll have to give that a go too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Wonderful recipe. A healthy alternative to a traditional favorite too.

    I’d love for your to submit them to Vegolicious, a vegetarian food photo gallery where readers can browse beautiful photos to discover new recipes and wonderful blogs. If you would like to share this recipe with our readers please submit a photo along with a link to this post.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 3:13 am

    This whole dish sounds amazing!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Love it! We’ve not made it to the Winter Farmer’s Market yet this year. Last year we were there every other weekend… Hope you two were warm and safe during the ice storm. I was amazed at how clear the roads were today.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Great use of kale! It’s a funky vegetable to cook, it’s so easy to get sick of it especially when your farmer sends it every.single.week. in your CSA. I’m totally snagging this recipe to get through the rest of kale season.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Mmmmm, this looks so good! I’ve used spinach in lasagna lots of times, but never kale – which is funny because I love kale! Definitely will have to give this a try!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 2:45 am

    I love kale, and I love lasagna, I think I will try it, your photos are compelling!

  • Reply
    Big Ed
    February 6, 2011 at 7:38 am

    You know Kale is on sale at Pogue’s Run Grocer, at 10th & Rural?

  • Reply
    February 9, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Usually I use ricotta for lasagna, but tonight I made it with cottage cheese and though it was delicious, it was a little bit too watery. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to drain the water off first. Next time I’ll try it your way. And I’m always looking for a way to use kale. Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

      We had the same problem with being too watery the first time we tried with cottage cheese as well! The next time we made sure to drain the whey, as well as squeeze out the kale as much as possible. You can also try to bake it a bit longer to remove more moisture. Let me know how it goes if you end up trying it!

  • Reply
    February 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Thanks, everyone! I’m glad to hear so many of you are kale fans too!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hi! If I decide to sub spinach for the kale, do I need to precook the spinach? Or just add it raw? Thanks :)

    • Reply
      May 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      Yes, most recipes I’ve seen for spinach lasagna call for precooking the spinach. Make sure to squeeze it dry too to remove the extra moisture!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    This is the best lasagne I’ve ever had(or maybe just beaten by my local italian restaurants ancient recipe – but hey, real italian food cooked by italians is the best..)
    I used spinach since it’s not kale-season in Denmark yet. I also used chilli and ground pepper instead of the pepperflakes, and it worked just fine. I forgot to buy cottage cheese, and used creme fraice instead and added nutmeg to it, which tasted brilliant!
    I served it with smoked salmon for my veggie-skeptical parents who loved the recipe!
    I’m definetly making this when I remember to get the right ingredients and when kale hit’s my grocery store(cause damnit – we danes can grow kale like no one else!) Having leftovers for lunch!

    • Reply
      August 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Haha, that’s wonderful! I think you’ve made enough substitutions to call it your own recipe, so I don’t think we can take any credit (except maybe for the inspiration)! I love the idea of craime fraiche as a cheese substitute — we aren’t big ricotta fans, hence the cottage cheese. We may have to try your version! (PS Did you put the smoked salmon in the lasagna too, or just on the side?)

      • Reply
        August 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

        I used the smoked salmon as a side dish along with the salad. But you could probably use it in the lasagne – but then it would be a different flavor, i guess)
        Thanks alot for the amazing recipe! And I’m glad you want to try my version ;)

  • Reply
    k @ that pink house
    October 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Made this and posted about it. It is wonderful!! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      October 20, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Awesome! Glad that you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    This is going to be our Christmas dinner this year, along with some olives from Goose the Market. Thanks, Sonja and Alex. -Brittany

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Oh, that sounds wonderful! Let us know how it turns out! (Just a tip – we found it works best with no boil noodles, and then letting it sit for a bit after baking to make sure there is no extra moisture.)

  • Reply
    April 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Great recipe! I just tried it out this weekend and absolutely love the flavours and the little kick the lasagne gets with the pepper flakes. Recommendable recipe and worth making many more times… Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Reply
      April 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      You are so welcome! So glad you enjoyed it.

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