Thursday, November 17, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sage and Caramelized Onions and The Best Brunch in Vancouver

I am going to warn you now, this is this longest post ever. I guess I have a lot of important things to say.

Not.

I did lots of fun stuff this past long weekend: A Concert! Dinner out! Drinks with friends! Tons of movie-watching, nacho-eating and Malbec-drinking in my PJ’s! And brunch at my favoritest brunch spot ever!


The Twisted Fork in downtown Vancouver.

 


Every time I go here I leave extremely full and extremely happy. The Menu is interesting but not too fancy schmancy. Just really good food. And the staff is awesome.

 


And the coffee. Ooooh the coffee.

 


My pick was eggs benny. Perfectly poached eggs with smoked salmon and roasted tomatoes on (the most freaking amazing) brioche bread with hollandaise sauce.



Banana stuffed brioche French toast for Henry. Yum!

 


Brie and bacon fritatta.

 


And another benny with bacon. Mmm. 

 


If you go here, and you must, check out the wall of canned goods in the back. I love this feature, yet somehow I always forget to get a picture of it.

Do you like fizzy raspberry champagne cocktails? You should get one of those too.




What else did I do this weekend? Besides lying around in my pajamas and procrastinating for an entire day? I cooked, of course!




This was pretty much the most delicious thing I have ever made. Except maybe for the Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese I made last year. It is easily my favorite recipe I have posted so far. It is a bit of a project to make but Oh. Em. Gee.  Is it ever worth it!





Are you kids ready for a story? Okay, good. When I set out to make this recipe I realized I was out of mozzarella. So, I sent my dear boyfriend to the store with a simple list: mozzarella cheese and bread. Simple enough, right?

Wrong.

Can you guess what he came home with? Bread - good so far. Fresh mozzarella cheese - not quite, but close. A giant bag of chips - straying a bit. An EIGHTEEN PACK OF CHOCOLATE BARS!!!! Not even close. Oh Henry, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Cookies N’ Cream, Hershey’s bars... No, no, no, no.

Oh, Henry.

People, I don’t DO those cheap-waxy-sugar-filled candy bars. I am more of a smooth-creamy-dark-chocolate-truffles kind of girl. And I definitely don’t do eighteen packs of ANY chocolate bar. We even had a deal not to buy any mini Halloween chocolates this year. I guess I should have specified that mega sized ones were also a no-no?  I don’t know what came over him; some of them were flavours even HE doesn’t like. Apparently they were “a really good deal”. Mhmm... That many calories are NEVER a good deal.

All I knew was… that candy was not sticking around long enough to end up on my hips. Anything that results in me having to buy new jeans is certainly not a bargain. So back to the store they went. I didn’t even have to ask. I think he could tell how much the purchase upset me, because he scurried away before all hell broke loose. As for the chips: the deal was they could stay, as long as we didn’t open them until we had guests over, so we didn’t eat the whole thing alone.

Right.

I am eating them as we speak.  I have no will power. None at all. Which is exactly why having 18 jumbo chocolate bars in the house is a bad idea.




But back to the cheese. “Fresh mozzarella”, at least in stores here, is the soft, un-aged type and not suitable for grating. Not what I would generally put in Lasagna. But I improvised and chopped it up into pea sized pieces and incorporated it into the ricotta cheese mixture, as I would have done with the grated cheese and… it was good! The bits of soft cheese half-melted and were almost like cheese curds. All was forgiven. 

At least when it came to the cheese… I’m still getting over the chocolate bar debacle.




Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sage and Caramelized Onions

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Every time I try to type the name of this recipe, I end up typing “Butternut Squashed Lasagna”. I thought it was important that you know this. 

Moving on.

The caramelized onions are, in my opinion, the key to this recipe. They add a sweetness and texture which really pumps this lasagna up a level. Henry concurred, by grunting, as he wolfed down a second piece. This is how you get a meat-loving boyfriend to love a meat-free dinner. Squash. And Cheese. And please please don’t leave out the caramelized onions. One more thing. I know this recipe looks intimidating, but it is really not that bad. I just like to cover every little step. Don't be scared. It does take a little longer than your average pasta recipe, but the end result is so worth it.




Ingredients

2 Pounds butternut squash (2 small squashes)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Onions
Handful of fresh sage leaves
1 500 gram Container ricotta cheese (or 1 pound)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 egg
1 ½ Cups mozerella cheese, grated (or fresh mozzarella, diced, see above)
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 Cup vegetable stock
1 Box whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 Cups finely grated parmesan cheese


1. To roast the squash, you will first need to peel, deseed, and dice it into 1 inch chunks. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the squash with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Alernatively, you could just cut the squash in half, deseed it, rub with oil and salt, and bake this way, then scoop the flesh out when it is cooked. This method may require more baking time, but leaves out the chopping step which can be time consuming (not to mention dangerous). I think I will give this a try next time.

When the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, set it aside to cool. I actually did this step the day before, which made assembling the lasagna a bit easier.

2. Get those onions caramelized! Slice 2 medium white onions in half from root to tip. Then thinly slice into half moons. Also chop up the sage leaves. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. I like to add a touch of olive oil as well, to keep the butter from browning. When the butter begins to foam, add the sage. Let this sizzle for a bit, when the sage begins to brown you can reduce the heat and add the onions to the pan.

To get nicely caramelized onions you will need to keep the heat low, and let them cook slow. This will take sometime, about 15-20 minutes? Stir the onions occasionally to help them cook evenly. I also like to add a teaspoon of brown sugar about halfway through the cooking process, it just encourages that sweet caramely flavour.

3. In a large bowl, mash up the squash with the back of a large spoon or a potato masher. Combine with the stock. It is up to you how chunky/ smooth you would like the mixture. You can leave it as is, or puree part of it with an immersion blender like I did. Gently stir in the sage and caramelized onions.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, mozerella cheese, egg, salt, and a little pinch of nutmeg.

5. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F.

If you are like me, and chose an inconveniently sized dish because it is prettier than the one the recipe requires, you will also need to trim your lasagna noodles to fit a square 9X9 dish. Otherwise you can just use a regular 9X13 casserole dish.

6. Begin assembling the lasagna by spreading 1/3 a cup of the squash mixture on the bottom of your dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of the ricotta mixture over noodles, followed by another layer of noodles, and half of the remaining squash mixture. Repeat once more, finishing with a layer of noodles. Top with a generous pile of freshly grated parmesan. I used two cups for my dish, but feel free to use more if you are using a larger dish.

7. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and golden. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.


Bonus! The fact that I chose to use an unusal sized dish for this recipe left me with a bit leftover of both the squash and cheese mixtures. I combined these with some leftover cooked penne and split between two individual portion casserole dishes. I topped them with more parmesan, covered and labelled them, and put them in the freezer. Now one day when I don't have time to cook, I can simply come home, turn on the oven, and pop them in. Hooray for thinking ahead!




Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! I will be busy drinking Baileys hot chocolate and studying. Probably not at the same time.

Okay, yeah. Probably at the same time.


XO,

Maia

25 comments:

  1. That looks perfectly divine. I have some butterbut squash in the freezes ready cooked. It is just waiting for the inspiration that you've given me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These pictures are making me drool. The lasagna sounds so amazingly autumnal. Yum!

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  3. Making this now for date night. Sweet!

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  4. Simply FLOORED by your squash lasagna. Why didn't I think of this before? Truly a delightful dish! Thanks for sharing

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  5. YUM! one day I'll make this :) This would be really tasty after a day of skiing.

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  6. Hmm... possible dish to bring to big white? Or a macaroni and cheese?

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  7. This was delicious and you are right, not as intimidating as it looks. I'm not sure why it needs 2 whole onions though, I would go for just one personally. But yeah best lasagna recipe ever!

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