Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Bechamel Sauce

I have been meaning to blog this incredible Cooking Light Magazine lasagna for a long time, but every time I make it, I forget to take a picture!  My amateur photograph cannot convey how delicious this lasagna truly is! It is rich and creamy; full of flavor and depth. The butternut squash bechamel sauce is really unique and is a fun deviation from your standard tomato based lasagna sauce.  Give yourself a bit of time to prepare this - there are quite a few steps. However, I promise the end results are worth it and your family will thank you for the effort. Definitely a cold weather, cozy, comfort-food type of dinner. Enjoy! 

Oh and P.S. - I used gluten-free lasagna noodles - super delicious! Jovial is a great brand!
Here is the recipe straight from Cooking Lights' website:
This serves 6 people with one piece each

  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon organic vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 2 ounces cave-aged Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup), divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and very thinly sliced (about 5 cups) <I used kale, stems removed. I think fresh spinach would work nicely, too>
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and chopped
  • Cooking spray
  • Package of lasagna noodles, cooked <I have never ever cooked my lasagna noodles, they get cooked in the oven by the what you want to do, but I put mine on dry>
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 ounce finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/4 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, 1 cup broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat.

3. Place squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; add Gruyère cheese and 1.5 ounces mozzarella cheese, stirring until cheese melts and mixture is smooth.

4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook 7 minutes or until browned and liquid evaporates. Add chard and remaining 1 tablespoon broth. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until chard wilts. Place chard mixture in a fine sieve; drain 5 minutes. Place chard mixture in a bowl. Add pine nuts; toss to combine.

5. Spread 1/2 cup squash sauce in bottom of a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over sauce; top with half of chard mixture. Dollop ricotta cheese on top of chard. Spread half of remaining sauce over top. Arrange 3 noodles over sauce. Top with remaining chard mixture; top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1.5 ounces mozzarella cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.

6. Preheat broiler to high. (Keep lasagna in oven.)

7. Broil lasagna 3 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas & Quinoa

I have been beyond obsessed with kale salads lately.....I literally crave them! My friend, Elle, and I came up with this fun salad together by basically tossing a bunch of yummy stuff in with the kale. The results were so good I had to recreate it again for my husband tonight. He said, "this is blog-able" - which is his way of giving me a big THUMBS UP!

**This salad makes enough for two as a meal. Add chicken sausage, shredded chicken or crumbled bacon if you want to incorporate some extra protein.

1 bunch of curly kale, stems removed, rinsed, dried and chopped
1 cup of COOKED white or red quinoa
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 dates, pitted & chopped
1/3 cup slivered almonds OR chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup blue cheese OR feta cheese (I like blue!)
Olive oil for roasting chickpeas and massaging kale

**See not above for suggestions on adding meat

1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1 heaping Tbl honey
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F

Spread the chickpeas on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Cook for 15 minutes; check on chickpeas and shake the cookie sheet or toss with a spatula. Return to oven and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Just keep checking on the chickpeas until they are roasted to your liking. I like mine crispy on the outside and a bit soft in the middle.

You can toast the nuts for about 5-8 minutes in a 400F oven. Check on the nuts after 5 minutes to make sure they aren't burning. Almonds toast more quickly than walnuts - just keep an eye on them!

When the kale is cut and cleaned, place it in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with a teaspoon or so of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Now it is time to massage the kale. Get your hands in that bowl of kale and rub it gently in between your fingers.....massaging the kale will break down the bitterness of the leaf and make it delicious! You can let it sit for awhile before you actually make the salad and dress it; or you can eat it right away!

To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

Once the chickpeas are roasted, the nuts are toasted and the kale has been massaged, you are ready to put it all together. Divide the kale between two large salad bowls and add the quinoa. Stir the quinoa into the kale so it is evenly distributed. Then add the chickpeas, dates, nuts and cheese.  Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Harvest Grain Salad with Roasted Veggies & Pears

This salad is straight up delicious. Full of fall harvest veggies and fruits. The perfect salad to eat on a chilly autumn day. I think it would make a wonderful Thanksgiving side dish, too! Enjoy!

*This salad serves 2 people as a meal or 6 as a side dish.

2 cups cooked grain such as brown/white rice or quinoa (I used rice)
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 large red OR yellow onion, diced
1 whole pear OR apple, cubed (I used an apple)
~ Tbl olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup dried cherries OR craisins (I used dried cherries)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)
1 cup fresh greens such as spinach or arugula, chopped (I used spinach)

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup FRESH squeezed orange juice
1 Tbl pure maple syrup
2 tsp apple cider OR red/white wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400F

Cook rice or quinoa according to directions; when finished cooking set aside.

Place butternut squash and onion on a parchment-lined, rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper - toss to coat - use your hand to spread everything out evenly on sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add chopped apple or pear to the cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Continue roasting for another 10 minutes or until all the veggies and fruit taste done to your liking. Cool them slightly.

While the veggies/fruit are roasting, make the dressing. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl add cooked rice, slightly cooled roasted veggies, cherries, walnuts (if using) and dressing. Mix well to combine.  Add chopped greens and stir to combine. Taste salad and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Serve right away or chill; this salad is good warm or cold. Enjoy!!