Sunday, October 13, 2013

Layering for Fall

Is it fall again ALREADY??  Seems like cold and rain came overnight - altho today it's sunny and beautiful outside, but requires either something a little warm on top, a heavily padded bra, or T Rex arms to cover your God-given temp gauges.  It's soup and woodstove and fuzzy pants weather, and we are once again reaping the bounty of the gazillion acres of squash my sister in law (who will now and forever be known as "My Produce Goddess") obviously planted last spring.  There are new varieties I must try, but am hooked right now on butternut and delicata, with heart of gold in a very close 3rd place.  So many recipes, so MUCH squash!!

I love that Weight Watchers has made vegetables and fruit zero points plus, and squash is one of those that actually gives me a twinge of guilt on can be so meaty, so carby, and SO filling that it seems like I'm cheating - even as I eat it with nothing but a little salt, and not slathered in melted butter and brown sugar as I was formerly accustomed.  Sometimes when I come home from work I will cut a delicata in half, scoop out the guts, sprinkle w/kosher salt and put cut sides down on a plate w/a T. of water and cover w/plastic, then pop in the microwave for 7 is filling and warming and keeps me out of the graham crackers and peanut butter.  And marshmallow creme if I'm stupid enough to buy it again.  

Butternut is not quite as sweet, but has a texture that holds up very well in soups and other recipes - it will start to break down, but adds a silky thickness and a buttery sweetness that lends itself very well to chicken soups of any kind....cook it with milk or cream and a bit of curry and you have a wickedly good creamy soup with tons of body and a lovely taste and mouth feel.  I just tried a recipe for roasted butternut and quinoa salad that turned out pretty good, but I want to tweak it a bit to add more flavor....didn't pack enough of a punch so back to the drawing board on that. 

I actually made the salad for a party, and at the same time made another untested recipe for butternut squash lasagne as a vegetarian side dish since I knew Brisket of the Gods would be waiting there (I kid you not...I may never attempt brisket now because I don't think I can meet those expectations, thank you SO much Matthew) - it was very well received, and since there were no vegetarians there to hog it all, we each got to take some home along with a hefty bag of other leftovers....the few of us that showed up must have all been cooks in a lumber camp in past lives.  That may have been the shortest distance between trying something new and putting it on the bog I've experienced, but it was pretty darn good so here it is for your viewing/creating pleasure.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Found this on Pinterest; Brian Malarkey's recipe on  I had to be different, however - not a big fan of lemon zest so I used gives it a somewhat floral flavor, so you can use lemon if you think that sounds better.  Also, don't try to precook no-cook lasagne sheets...they shred and fall apart, EPIC FAIL.  If you use them, I think you need to add a bit of liquid to your sauce, so maybe go w/regular ones?
1 large or 2 small Butternut squash – Peeled, cored and sliced thin 1/4  inch
Olive oil, kosher salt and pepper

10 to 14  Pasta Sheets – Cooked and put in cool water bath

1/4 C Butter
¼ Cup  Flour
3 ½ Cups Whole Milk
6 cloves  Garlic
1 handful  Spinach
1/2 bunch  Italian Parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

3 Cups  Shredded Mozzarella
½ Cup  Parmesan
1/4 C. butter
10 Sage Leaves – Sliced Thin
Zest from a lemon (or orange)
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375F.  Drizzle a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan (with sides) with olive oil and place the slices of butternut squash on it, season with salt and pepper, repeat another layer until all the butternut is layered.  Cover with foil and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until the squash is cooked yet still firm enough to break apart.

While that is roasting, heat ½ stick of butter in a large skillet or deep saucepan and melt until almost browned, whisk in the flour and continue to cook for about 30 seconds, then slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, Add the whole garlic cloves (yeah, that threw me off too, just do it) and continue to cook at a medium heat until mixture thickens. Transfer the mixture to the blender and blend in the Spinach/parsley. Season with salt and Pepper. It will taste very garlicky....this will mellow when you bake it.

Rub a 9x13 Baking dish with a little butter and begin the layers: Cream Sauce, pasta, Mozzarella Parmesan, butternut – Repeat. I used 4 layers of noodles, then used on sauce and cheese on the top layer. Cover with Foil (spray the side that will touch the cheese first and it won't stick) and Bake for 40 minutes at 375; remove foil and bake for another 15 or until the top is crispy golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with Sage/Lemon (or orange) Brown Butter:  In small saut√© pan bring 1/4 C. butter to a light brown color – Very hot and bubbling.  Add Sage, Zest, salt and Pepper and remove from pan immediately; Spoon over the entire lasagne or a little on each piece.

I just heated up a piece to stage it for the photo (thank God for leftovers), and was forced to eat some of it - it was light, creamy, cheesy and had the bright flavors of the squash and orange zest, with the more mellow notes of browned butter, sage and parmesan...very nice!  Enjoy this beautiful season, and eat more squash....don't let The Produce Goddess down!


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