I had a plan to make spinach and butternut squash lasagna roll-ups last week. But then I decided to add chicken so that Jasper would be more likely to eat it (note that this plan failed, ha). And then I thought it would be good to make my own spinach whole wheat noodles, which turned out to be too fragile to roll up, especially with the heavy chicken added. So it turned into a regular layered lasagna instead, and I'm not even sad. The colors were so pretty, and it was gooey and cheesy and filling.
So here's where I made a mistake - I thought I would be clever and puree the spinach in the food processor instead of the blender before adding in my flour in order to reduce the number of dirty containers. Except that the food processor didn't really puree the spinach very well. I even had a moment where I stopped and thought I should transfer it to the blender and decided against it, *sigh*. All those little flakes of spinach made the dough very fragile and difficult to work with, but I stuck it out.
The noodles turned out fine (and they certainly tasted good) when cooked, but they were still too fragile to roll (and not very pretty).
So I just layered them instead and all was well. Now, remember earlier this week when I talked about having leftover butternut squash? Well, this is where it went. I pureed the roasted squash and shallots together to make a sauce. A little of that went on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of noodles.
This is a perfect winter weeknight meal. Buy some pizza dough from the store, throw on some delicious winter veggies, finish with smokey bacon and mozzarella. Done. Awesome.
Remember how I only needed a little bit of squash for last week's Carbonara? Well, this is what I did with the rest of it - cubed it up and roasted it with shallots, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I only used about half of this squash for the pizza - the rest of it? Stay tuned.
Ugh, blurry picture. Sorry. Anyway, top some rolled out dough with slices of smoked mozzarella, the roasted squash, some kale rubbed with olive oil, and some halfway cooked bacon. I bought some fresh dough from Whole Foods because I really didn't feel like making my own, but I wish they sold wheat dough. That would make things easy AND healthy. Also, I really should have split this into 2 pizzas. It was almost too big for my stone and I ended up with a lot of crust.
In the super hot oven, the bacon finishes cooking, the kale becomes crispy, and the cheese gets all melty and golden. Yum. The smoked mozzarella is really key here, it goes so well with the bacon and the kale - so don't skip it!
So I got this combination of ingredients into my head and couldn't stop thinking about all the ways I could use them. Pasta, pizza, tarts - the list goes on. I decided to caramelize a big batch of onions, roast a big squash, and use them all week in a few different dishes.
First off, I peeled and cut up a large (4 lb) butternut squash and laid the cubes out on a baking sheet. I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Then I roasted them at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
For the onions, I bought one of those bags that has about 5 onions in it, sliced them all, and threw them in a large pan with olive oil. After they turned translucent and soft, I turned the heat down from med-hi to med-lo and let them caramelize. This will take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. About halfway through, I added a few sprigs of thyme. Once they were really brown, I added a splash of sherry to de-glaze the pan and removed the thyme stems. Again, I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
Oh my gosh, you guys. This might be my favorite butternut squash pasta since the life-saving mac and cheese.
Sheets of homemade pasta filled with roasted butternut squash, apple, onion, sausage, and three cheeses; topped with a creamy sage bechamel. It's totally swoon worthy.
The filling is a little complicated, but totally worth it. While your butternut squash is roasting in the oven, mix up and brown your sausage mixture. Did I mention that you are creating your own sausage, so you can adjust the spices to your liking? And you can be sure that there are no weird preservatives or sugar? Awesome. Anyway, next you saute some onions, garlic, and apple. Plus a little white wine - aww, yeah.
Oh my gosh this filling. It's insane. You may want to make extra to use in other ways. I'll talk about that later.
Ugh - sorry folks, I've been bad about posting this last week! And this post is going to be pretty short, too. We are finally on our way into Fall, but the transition has been slow and there is still some stone fruit to be had. I am still really into tartines at the moment, so I paired sliced nectarine with goat cheese, prosciutto, and basil for a quick lunch.
Then the store finally had some burrata in (this is a seriously random occurrence, you never know), so I paired that with some ripe peach, basil, EVOO, balsamic, and sea salt.
I really love authentic Italian pizza. The kind with the thin crust that gets blistered and charred in the wood oven. My favorite place to get it around here is Pizzeria Orso, but I have been trying to make it at home. Step one is to get a pizza stone. I leave mine on the bottom rack of the oven. As long you are heating it with the oven (not sticking a cold stone into a hot oven) it will be totally fine to leave it in there all the time. In fact, heating it frequently will help keep it clean by burning any spills to dust. I've even left it in there on the self clean mode - totally fine and now very clean! It will take longer for your oven to preheat with the stone in it, but it will help keep the temperature even and constant. You will also need a pizza peel to transfer the pizza to the stone.
Step 2 for great pizza - great dough. I have tried many doughs, including whole wheat ones. For authentic pizza - this Jim Lahey dough is the best. It takes a long time to make though, so be prepared. The idea behind this dough is that the tenderness and pocketed texture come from fermenting the dough (for 18 hours, I told you it takes time!), and then handling it as little as possible. That means no kneading!
After letting the dough ferment (like sourdough starter), you carefully remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Then you separate it into four parts and gently fold (not roll, or knead) the parts into balls. Use them quickly or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. This dough is only good for a couple of days so plan to make a lot of pizza!
When you are ready to make the pizza (the oven and stone should be preheated at this point), carefully and gently stretch the dough. Either in the air on your knuckles, or on a floured surface. For some technique tips - check out this video. See those bubbles in the dough, there? That's what you are trying to achieve. Those will blister up and make your pizza awesome. Here's another handy trick - I always have trouble getting my pizza off the peel, no matter how much cornmeal I put on there. So I have started putting the pizza onto parchment paper and sliding that onto the stone. Then after about 2 minutes (you will smell it starting to char), I slide the parchment out from under the partially set dough - easy!
So for the past few weeks I have pretty much been living off of fresh summer produce and cheese piled onto whole grain seed bread. It's pretty much all I want to eat. EVER. The French call these open-faced sandwiches "tartines". I like that, it makes them sound fancy (when really they are super simple).
The farmers' market has been bursting with huge, gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. This beautiful yellow, green, and red tomato made it onto pizza (which I will post about soon) AND some lovely tartines. I wanted to eat some of this super sweet and juicy tomato raw so I toasted some bread and topped it with creamy homemade ricotta, basil from my garden, slices of tomato, high quality EVOO, high quality sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Super simple and sooooooo delicious.
Next up I paired some fresh figs with more of that homemade ricotta, black pepper, and honey. Whether for lunch, dessert, or a snack - this tartine is awesome.
Lastly, I wanted to experiment with warm tartines and broiled tomatoes, so I placed sliced mozzarella and tomatoes on seedy whole grain bread, drizzled them with olive oil, and broiled them. Then I topped them with fresh basil, salt, and pepper - yum! Definitely very satisfying.
What are some of your favorite tartine ideas? Leave them in the comments!
Hello, Summer! Juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil, all stuffed inside a hearty burger - oh yeah, baby!
This is a fairly straightforward recipe, the key is in the setup - have all of your ingredients close by and ready to go. Season your beef however you like (I put bacon in mine!) and form into thin patties; make an indentation in the center.
Load up with halved grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella bits, and ribbons of basil.
Place another thin patty on top and seal the edges to encase the filling.
Then grill as you normally would!
Inspired by Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom
I am one of those people that refuses to let go of a season, so I apologize if Spring drags on a bit for me here (especially since I am always late posting). But we are still in the transition period from Spring to Summer, so it's not THAT bad (I hope).
Anyway, during one of my weekly lunches with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies, we decided to make a shaved asparagus pizza with some gorgeous purple asparagus that she got from a local farm (she talks about it here).
Isn't it beautiful? It turns out that this asparagus is super juicy, so it released a lot of liquid during cooking that we had to mop up with paper towels. If you have some big, juicy stalks and want to make pizza, I recommend sauteing them a bit first or tossing with kosher salt and draining on paper towels for a bit to draw the moisture out.
Here is the beautiful whole wheat pizza dough that Melissa had ready to go when I got there.
I've been playing with combining squash and pasta for comforting Fall/Winter dishes. Like last weeks White Lasagna or the Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells from the beginning of the month. And now I have a few more, starting with this Butternut Squash and Leek Pasta Sauce.
This is simple and delicious - pureed squash, leeks, garlic, butter, sage, and Parmesan form a rich and creamy sauce to perfectly coat spaghetti.
Next up is Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Amaretti Crumbles.
Roasted pumpkin combined with noodles, cheesy bechamel, and sage.