Tag Archives: butternut squash

Beet Green Lasagna with Squash Bechamel

4 Feb

Perhaps it goes without saying for someone who takes the time to write a food blog, but I love cooking.  I often think I could spend the entire day in the kitchen without complaints.  I love the experimentation that it requires – even when something is a failure, or doesn’t live up to expectations.  I love the creativity involved – even though it comes down to numbers, measurements, and timing.  I love how it doesn’t involve much thinking – I do enough of that during the rest of the day, and the best dishes tend to come from the “little of this, little of that,” throwing in whatever your palette and body is craving.  I just enjoy the hell out of myself in the kitchen.  I particularly enjoy taking vegetarian dishes, which many people dismiss out-of-hand as “boring” or “rabbit food,” and making something special.

This dish was one of those “special” vegetarian dishes.  It had all the panache of a cheese-and-meat laden lasagna with a hell of a lot less fat, calories, cholesterol, and all those other bad guys.  The low-fat cottage cheese was a great substitute for the ricotta usually found in vegetarian lasagnas.  The squash béchamel was on the sweeter side, but the slight bitterness of the beet greens, the earthy richness of the mushrooms, and the slight salty bite of the Parmesan helped to balance it out quite a bit.  In the future, I may roast the squash for a little less time to result in less caramelizing or substitute a saltier or more pungent cheese (such as feta or Gorgonzola) for the Parmesan.  Overall, though, I was very happy with the way this turned out.  I especially loved the fact that the béchamel was creamy and flavorful without the use of any flour or butter.  Although it was slightly labor intensive (par for the course with lasagna), a lot of it was make-ahead.

Beet Green Lasagna with Squash Béchamel

8-12 no-boil lasagna noodles (depending on size of casserole)

1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 small acorn squash, halved

2 tbs. olive oil, divided

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese

1 lemon, zested

2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced, plus a few sprigs reserved for garnish

2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, minced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Greens and stems from 4-5 beets, washed well (about 3 cups chopped)

1 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tbs.)

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Non-stick cooking spray

Heat oven to 375º.

Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Spray a tinfoil covered baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Add cubed butternut squash and halved acorn squash, flesh side up.  Toss with one tbs. olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Roast 40 minutes or until fork tender.

Remove squash from oven and let cool.  Remove flesh of acorn squash from skin with a spoon and place in food processor.  Add butternut squash, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, lemon zest, thyme, and rosemary.  Pulse 10-15 times in 1-2 second bursts.  The final texture should be a smooth puree about the consistency of a fruit smoothie.  Taste and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper as necessary.  [Note: This can be done up to 24 hours in advance.  Simply prepare and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.]

While squash is roasting, remove beet greens from center stems.  Roll up leaves and chop into thin ribbons.  Chop stems into 1/2″ segments.

Add olive oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 7-10 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and beet stems.  Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Add chopped beet greens and water and cook until leaves are wilted and tender.  Season vegetables with crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Set aside.  [Note: This portion can also be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 24 hours.]

For assembly, spoon a few tbs. of squash sauce into the bottom of the prepared casserole dish, spreading to evenly coat.  Place noodles, overlapping slightly, to cover bottom of casserole.  Add 1/3 of remaining sauce.  Top with 1/2 of the cooked vegetables and 1/3 of cheese.  Add another layer of noodles, 1/3 of sauce, remainder of vegetables, and 1/3 of cheese.  Top with final layer of noodles, the remainder of the sauce, and the remainder of the cheese.  [Note: Yet again, this can be assembled ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a day until you’re ready to heat through.]

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until the top of the lasagna is golden and the cheese is melted.  Let rest, uncovered, 15-20 minutes before slicing.  Garnish with a few sprigs of thyme.

Spicy Pork Stuffed Butternut Squash

30 Oct

Remember how I’m obsessed with using leftovers?  This is day one of using the shredded pork and French bread left over from yesterday.  I love the way trying to use leftovers forces you to be resourceful as well as innovative, so as not to get bored by the same flavors over and over again.  Overall, this dish was a success.  The spice of the hot sauce really complimented the natural sweetness of the butternut squash and the crunch of the bread cubes worked as a good foil to velvety smoothness of the squash and softness of the pork.

Spicy Pork Stuffed Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash:

1 butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed

2 tsp. garlic flavored hot sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350º.

Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Spray the “flesh” sides of the butternut squash with nonstick cooking spray and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and garlic hot sauce.  Place in oven, flesh side up, and bake for thirty minutes.  Flip flesh-side down and bake another 15 minutes or until easily pierced with fork and almost fully cooked.


2 cups leftover shredded pork (from Shredded Pork and Tomato Stew)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3/4 cup shredded very sharp cheddar cheese

2 tsp. garlic hot sauce

1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup French bread, cubed

1 large brown cage-free egg

Combine all ingredients.  Take the butternut squash out of the oven and scoop a 1/2″ thick “trough” down the center of the squash to meet the natural depression where the seeds previously were.  Add this to the other ingredients and stir to combine.

Using a large spoon, scoop the filling into the depression of the squash and the trough you created.  It is okay if the filling does not fit level with the squash – about 1/2″ above the surface of the squash is fine.

Put the squash back into the oven and cook another 20 minutes until cheese is melted, stuffing is heated through, and bread cubes are toasted.

Roasted Chicken, Butternut Squash, Zucchini and Feta Lasagna

2 Aug

It may appear from the assortment of recipes so far that we are obsessed with butternut squash in our household.  It IS great, because it’s inexpensive, nutrient packed, has longevity, freezes well, and can be used in a lot of different forms and flavor profiles.  What’s not to love?  I’m admittedly obsessed with using leftovers, and so what I made before inspires flavor profiles for quite some time.  This recipe from Closet Cooking had caught my eye, I had some of my soup leftover, butternut squash was again on sale, and I had a huge zucchini from my dad’s garden to use up.

Lasagna is labor intensive and not the healthiest, but I love it.  It’s not Zak’s favorite but the cook should get to choose sometimes, right?  It seems like it takes a long time and is a lot of work (I really didn’t enjoy peeling the butternut squash BEFORE roasting it), but it’s mostly simple steps that can be done over the course of the day.  I started around 11:30  and had it in the fridge ready to go in the oven around 4, but I walked away for a lot of breaks and set things in the refrigerator.

All the work was completely worth it, though.  This was absolutely amazing.  YUM.  Even my non-lasagna-lover liked it and is taking it for lunch tomorrow.  The salty feta, sweet butternut squash and smoky tomato was really, really good.

Roasted Chicken, Butternut Squash, Zucchini and Feta Lasagna²

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Serves 2-4

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

1 cup zucchini, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

Cooking spray

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 small Vidalia onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)

3/4 cup diced tomato (one small tomato)

3 tsps. tomato paste

1 cup leftover Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup or pureed roasted butternut squash

1 cup leftover roasted chicken, shredded¹

2 tbs. butter

2-4 tsps. all natural whole wheat flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

3/4 cup feta, crumbled

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

6-8 cooked lasagna noodles (I used no boil noodles)

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with cooking spray.  Spread butternut squash and zucchini pieces in a single layer over the baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Roast in oven until tender, roughly 20 minutes.  Set aside.

If you do not have leftover Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, roast an extra 1/2 butternut squash per the instructions in the linked recipe.  Peel, cut into pieces and puree in a food processor with a few tablespoons of water or chicken stock.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil.  Add onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent and tender, 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Increase heat to medium and add wine, diced tomato, tomato paste, leftover Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (or roasted butternut squash puree), kosher salt, and freshly cracked pepper and bring to a slow boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15-20 minutes until sauce is thickened.  Add shredded chicken and mix throughly.  Set aside.

Heat butter in a saucepan until bubbling and lightly browned.  Slowly add flour and simmer until lightly browned.  Mix in milk and heat through until lightly bubbling.  Add cheese a bit at a time and heat until melted and thickened but not pasty.  Reserve small handful of grated cheese to sprinkle on top later.  Don’t worry if the feta does not completely melt.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Layer all with noodles in a 6″ x 3″ x 4″casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Assemble lasagna as follows: a little bit of chicken and tomato sauce, noodles, chicken and tomato sauce, roasted veg, cheese sauce, repeat, cheese sauce.  Bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes.  Remove cover and sprinkle reserved cheese on top.  Bake uncovered for the last ten minutes or place under the broiler for 2-3 mins if not golden brown.

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Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

28 Jul

This soup was smoky, spicy, salty and sweet – basically, everything I could ask for in a soup.  I had a bit of a minor disaster when I walked away from the simmering shallots, garlic and carrots for (no joke) five minutes with the heat turned a tad too high and came back to a charred mess of vegetables.  I was on my way out the door in a few minutes and really had to scramble to get the vegetables back to their perfect caramelized, tender state but in the end it was well worth it.  The hint of ginger, the smoky flavors of the roasted butternut squash, the spice of the Sriracha, and the salt of the soy really set this butternut squash soup apart from previous versions I’ve made or tasted.

Ginger and Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 2

1/2 roasted squash (refer to the “Butternut Squash Puree” section and use the leftover half), removed from skin and cut into chunks

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

3 tbs. Brummel and Brown

1 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger, divided

1 tsp. beef fat from homemade beef stock

2 1/4 cups homemade beef stock, divided

2 tsp. soy sauce

2 tbs. plain Greek yogurt, plus more for garnish

1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce, plus more for garnish

Large pinch of kosher salt, or to taste

In sauce pan, sauté shallots, garlic, and carrot in Brummel and Brown and beef fat until lightly caramelized, roughly 10-15 minutes.  Add 1 tsp. powdered ginger and sauté 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Add 1 1/2 cups beef stock and simmer covered 15 minutes until carrots are fork tender.

Transfer shallots, garlic, carrot and beef stock to food processor (or use immersion blender) and puree until smooth.  Slowly add chunks of butternut squash and pulse 10-15 times.  Once ingredients are incorporated, run processor until texture is smooth.  Transfer back to saucepan.

Add 3/4 cup beef stock (or however much until the soup is your desired consistency), soy, 1/2 tsp. ginger, plain Greek yogurt, Sriracha sauce, and large pinch of kosher salt and stir to combine.  Heat, covered, 15 minutes or until hot.  Serve in bowls garnished with a few drops of Sriracha and a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt.

Butternut Squash Polenta with Spicy Spinach and Shredded Pork

20 Jul

Talk about flavorful!  In an effort to use up the leftover pork from yesterday’s roasted pork loin with roasted garlic and arugula vinaigrette and a butternut squash that was nearing it’s end, I came up with this recipe.  I remembered reading about a butternut squash polenta somewhere, and after a few minutes of Googling, found what I was looking for: this delicious sounding dish from Food & Style.  After making some pretty significant changes to suit our tastes and what I had on hand, I ended up with a meal that was an absolute explosion of flavors.  The polenta was decadently creamy and bursting with the yummy flavor of butternut squash.  The spinach had just enough heat and garlic to really shine against the fattiness of the pork without overwhelming the gentle acidity of the red wine vinegar and distinctive taste of the Caraway seed.  This dish was also amazingly easy to prepare, especially since so much of it could be done ahead of time.  I roasted the squash, shredded the pork, and then left the house for most of the afternoon.  Once Zak was home from work and ready to eat, all I had to do was reheat the pork, whip up the polenta, and sauté the spinach, which only took about 20 minutes.

We both absolutely loved this and I’ll be making it again in the future.  Almost any leftover meat would taste great on top, or it would be delicious as a vegetarian option.

Butternut Squash Polenta with Spicy Spinach and Shredded Pork

Adapted from Food & Style

Serves 2

Shredded Pork:

1.5 lbs leftover roasted pork, cut into large chunks or slices

2 tbs. Brummel & Brown, other butter substitute, or butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 tsp. Caraway seed

1/2 tsp. marjoram

2 tbs. red wine vinegar

3 cups homemade chicken stock

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

In a heavy, medium sized saucepan heat Brummel & Brown over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden brown.  Add onions, Caraway seed, marjoram, and salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly caramelized (about 10-15 minutes).  Reduce heat to medium-low and add pork, chicken stock, and red wine vinegar.  Simmer, covered, roughly one hour.

From time to time, reduce heat to low and use two forks to shred the pork.  Return heat to medium-low and re-cover.  If necessary, uncover and simmer until sauce reduces so that pork is barely wet about 15 minutes before serving time.

Butternut Squash Puree:

1 large butternut squash, halved

Cooking spray

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

2 tbs. plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 400°.

Spray flesh side of butternut squash with cooking spray and season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper.  Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil (for easy clean up) and position a roasting rack over baking sheet.  Spray roasting rack with cooking spray.  Place squash halves flesh side down on roasting rack and roast 50 minutes or until very tender.

Let squash cool.  Scoop out flesh of one half of squash and place in food processor, saving the other half of the squash for another purpose.  Process until mostly smooth.  Add Greek yogurt and process until completely smooth.  Set aside.

This portion of the recipe can be prepared up to a day in advance and chilled in the refrigerator in an airtight container.


3 cups homemade chicken stock

1 cup polenta (also known as corn grits)

1/2 cup asiago fresco cheese, shredded

Butternut Squash Puree (see above)

In a large saucepan, heat chicken stock over medium-high heat until at a rolling boil.  Slowly whisk in polenta.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of liquid has been absorbed by the polenta.  Add the asiago and Butternut Squash Puree (see above) and heat until cheese is melted and puree is heated through.

Spicy Spinach:

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp. olive oil

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained

1 heaping tsp. paprika

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté until tender, 1-2 minutes.  Add paprika and crushed red pepper, followed immediately by chopped spinach.  Sauté, stirring constantly, until spinach is heated through.

To serve, place polenta in bowl topped with the spinach followed by the pork and a few tablespoons of juices from the pork.

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