Butternut Squash Lasagna
I’m not a fan of fall weather, even more so when it comes to the season after fall, but I am a fan of many of the vegetables that pop up during these chilly months. From the winter squashes, to the greens, to the delicious root vegetables – the fall is well stocked with delicious vegetables. Today’s treat features a number of those goodies, including some of the last of the produce from the Farmer’s Market at my office. Butternut Squash is a familiar vegetable in our house and it really seems to go with everything. In this case I added some swiss chard, baby kale, and some mashed pie pumpkin (thought the variety was called baby boy but that just resulted in lots of baby costumes) that was leftover from making the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
Lasagna will never be a healthy dinner option, and it’s not always the most budget-friendly option, but it will always be something delicious and hearty and fantastic. I figured that if I only make it a few times a year it’s not that bad…right??? I’m sending this recipe over to November’s Secret and in Season, which is being hosted by Katie of FeedingBoys and was founded by the awesome Ren. There are so many delicious fall recipes being linked up over there, I can’t wait to give them a whirl!!!
Super Greens with Polenta
I’ll admit it, I was a strange child. From a rather young age I greatly enjoyed vegetables (especially greens) and was known to trade away my lunch time sweets for carrot sticks – which I’m sure my classmates enjoyed. That’s not to say I would always pick a healthy treat over something sweet, but it made the challenge for this week a bit more challenging than normal. For /52weeksofcooking this week we are to cook with an ingredient we didn’t enjoy as a child, and that doesn’t leave me with much. Many commonly avoided vegetables weren’t served in my house and the few things I remember avoiding as a kid I still don’t eat: cottage cheese, tapioca pudding, porridge, and meat. Luckily my hubby was more of a “normal” child and gave me a rather large list of foods: broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, and anything spicy. So essentially anything green, which gave me lots to work with. I decided to pick a variety of greens, toss in some chickpeas, and serve everything over some baked polenta.
While I’m not sure which of us any future children might take after, it’ll be interesting to see where they fall when it comes to green food. Tho worst case scenario I can always sneak it in…
The combination of rain and sun has resulted in a glorious garden, which is resulting in a large amount of delicious produce and with that meals filled with vegetables. Thanks to some coworkers I’ve had a steady supply of beets and swiss chard, and thanks to my garden I now have large amounts of tomatoes and carrots – a vegetarian paradise! When it came time to cook everything I relied on the Top Chef motto of “what grows together, goes together” and combined anything and everything to see what would happen. At the end of the week I had a little bit of everything but with the exception of the tomatoes I didn’t have enough of any of thing to make it a feature. So everything got tossed together with some quinoa in the ultimate tribute to summer vegetables.
I topped mine with some greek yogurt for dinner and had it “naked” for lunch the next day and both ways were amazing. This is one of those dishes that is guilt free, even if seconds are involved!
White & Green Lasagna
One of my goals for this year has been incorporating a larger variety of vegetables in to my diet, to go beyond the standard spinach, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms that I tend to live on. While this will be much easier to do once farmer markets are in full swing this spring, I didn’t want to put off this goal for fear I would keep pushing it off. So I started exploring the hothouse vegetable section of my grocery store to see what was being produced locally. I didn’t expect to see much beyond root vegetables and tomatoes and with that was pleasantly surprised when I saw the plethora of greens waiting for me to give them a go. From bitter mustard greens to earthly collards to sweet baby spinach and all the colors of chard in between it was a mecca of leafy vegetables. I decided to grab a few varieties and see what all I could come up with. I’ll admit, most of the kale wound up being used in salad or juice form, but I when I realized I had grabbed more than I needed I started thinking of recipes that could use a large amount of greens. When it comes to fridge clean out I need to go to pizzas or pastas and this time was no different – except I decided to make my own lasagna sheets. Since the point of this meal was to use as many veggies as possible even the pasta wound up going green with the inclusion of spinach and kale though in the future I’ll make sure to process them more in order to get a more even distribution.
This might not be the healthiest lasagna out there due to the cheese, however it does pack a healthy punch of vitamins and nutrients. I also like that this is another one of those dishes where there is no right or wrong ingredient – just add whatever vegetables are threatening to turn and enjoy!
Spinach and Kale Pizza
Another week, another challenge from r/52weeksofcooking. This week the theme was Mother Sauces, something I explored a few years ago thanks to a Top Chef episode. I have done numerous tomato sauce based recipes, and a few veloute sauces as well but for the most part I avoid the creamier sauces. Cream is very high on the list of things my doctor has told me to avoid – so with that in mind I set out to make this as healthy as I could. One of things that helped me on that quest was learning that bechamel does not actually require cream! Instead of doing a standard pasta I decided to do pizza, making a whole wheat sourdough crust and tossing on as much spinach, chard, and kale as possible. I was a little bit nervous working with the dough, but it was surprising easy to roll once I figured out the right flour:starter ratio – so no dough went flying across the kitchen this time!
This isn’t the healthiest pizza out there – and I’m sure it’s not the healthiest version of bechamel floating around – but it’s a healthier option compared to what most pizzas are. Another advantage of doing a white sauce is it’s much easier to reduce the amount of cheese required, assuming people aren’t looking over your shoulder attempting to add more.
Three Green Pasta Sauce
5 days until the big day…5 days until I’m married to my best friend. I’m thrilled and nervous and excited and everything else! In an attempt to settle my nerves I have spent some time in the kitchen trying out new recipes and messing around with new ingredients. I finally got around to testing out some delicious chard and kale recipes, including the one I’m featuring today. As an added bonus I included some spinach to make this a true leafy green smorgasbord. The fact that this sauce comes together relatively quickly, just makes it all the better.
This recipe could be easily adapted for vegans but switching the half & half for a thicker un-flavored almond milk, but avoid coconut milk as it tends to be too runny for this dish. The sauce is also amazing as part of a vegetable lasagna, just add a few tomatoes, ricotta cheese, and a gourmet dish is just an oven away.
This spring vegetables dish is also the perfect recipe for simple and in season, since all three of the featured greens are in peak season right now. For more seasonal supers be sure to check out Fabulicious Foods for the entire April meet-up.
Swiss Chard Pasta
I want to start this post with a quick garden update, mostly because I actually have a garden to give updates on! At this point I have 14 tomatoes, including one that is starting to redden. I also have 21 peppers, including two on my red bell pepper plant! With the peppers I think I should have the first one in the next week or so with the rest following soon after. I am starting to work some pepper recipes and can’t wait to test them with my own fresh veggies! I’m just hoping that the strong wind we have been having lately doesn’t take out any of my lovelies.
This recipe doesn’t feature tomatoes or peppers however it does feature a vegetable that is in season and often overlooked. I had my first taste of Swiss Chard about 15months ago, at Old Town Alexandria’s Majestic. It was served as part of an amazing cannelloni dish along with fresh cheeses and a wicked cream sauce. Quick disclaimer: my memory has been labeled as freaky however the reason for such detail is my first experience with Swiss Chard happened to be my first “real” date with Joe so…I remember these things. However it wasn’t until reading about a dozen blog posts about amazing CSA reens that I finally got the courage to try cooking it on my own. I stuck with a basic pasta dish in order to make sure the chard had a chance to shine. Finding out the sauce turned a pleasant pink shade was an added bonus.
Ingredients: (serves 4-5)
- 1/2 lb Ziti (or other tubular) noodles
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/2 vidalia onion, well diced
- 1 lb Swiss Chard, well rinsed and coarsely chopped (cut off the bottom of the stem)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- Cook the pasta according to the directions until al dente. Drain and return to pan.
- Meanwhile heat the olive oil over medium heat, once hot add the garlic and onion. Cook 5 minutes, until garlic starts to turn golden. Add the swiss chard is slow amounts, letting it wilt before adding more. Cook until the chard is tender, about 7minutes.
- In a small bowl mix the ricotta cheese with the vegetable stock. Pour over the drained pasta and toss before mixing in the chard mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper then top with the Parmesan Cheese. Serve warm!
This recipe is quick and simple and a great way to try out a new green most would work well in this recipe. I am looking forward to testing out some other chard recipes to see what else I can turn pink and will hopefully have tons more to share.