This Is the Best Dish Our Food Team Ate This Month

Who says great lasagna can't have a healthy twist? The lasagna with kale or chard at Unconventional Diner proves it can.

The veggie-heavy lasagna at Unconventional Diner. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The dish: Swiss chard lasagna.

The place: Unconventional Diner (1207 Ninth St., NW).

One of the city’s best lasagnas doesn’t come from a red-sauce Italian joint. It’s at a diner . . . owned by a Frenchman. Unlike your traditional greasy spoon, Shaw’s Unconventional Diner is run by a pedigreed chef, David Deshaies. The disciple of the late Michel Richard puts unexpected twists on comfort dishes, starting with greens in his lasagna.

  • Growing up in the Loire Valley of France, Deshaies enjoyed his mom’s classic beef lasagna. “Everybody eats lasagna in France!” he says. Like the French, he serves his version with a lightly dressed, seasonal-greens-and-tomato salad on the side.
  • Deshaies wants his menu to be healthier than your average diner’s. The chef initially used kale in his vegetarian lasagna but is now swapping in Swiss chard. Sautéed cremini mushrooms, red bell pepper, and onion are also mixed in.
  • The rest of the recipe is pretty classic. Deshaies layers spicy tomato sauce, pasta, herb-spiked ricotta, Parmesan, and vegetables, then repeats. It’s finished with shredded mozzarella and served in a homey Le Creuset baking dish, with plenty of cheese crisped around the edges.

This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.