Sweet Potato and Spinach Lasagna

No matter how many times I make pasta dishes they can never quite measure up to lasagna.  I think there must be some type of magic hidden in the layers.  It’s just one of those scenarios when one plus one actual equals three, because the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  And this lasagna is my new favorite, perfect for impressing dinner guests with the unique individual portion presentation.

sweet potato spinach lasagna

Sweet Potato and Spinach Lasagna
2 sweet potatoes
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 c and 2 tbs milk
1/2 c and 2 tbs parmesan cheese
2 c frozen spinach
8 lasagna noodles
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
2 c italian blend shredded cheese

Butter 4 10-ounce ramekin dishes, set aside on a baking sheet.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pierce sweet potato skins several times then microwave for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through, flesh should be soft.  Allow sweet potatoes to cool.  Remove flesh from skin and add to a bowl with nutmeg, cinnamon, 2 tbs of milk, and 2 tbs of parmesan cheese. Mix until smooth and well combined. Defrost spinach then ring out excess water using a kitchen towel.  Cook lasagna noodles to just shy of al dente.  In the meantime in a skillet melt butter over medium heat, add flour to make roux.  Whisk in remaining 2 c milk, allow mixture to come to a simmer and thicken.  Add 1 c italian blend cheese, remove from heat.

To assemble put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of each ramekin then lay 2 lasagna noodles in an “x” pattern, allowing excess pasta to overhand the edges.  Add a rounded tablespoon of the sweet potatoes in each ramekin, then spinkle with spinach, adding a bit more sauce, and extra italian blend cheese.  Fold 2 overhanging pasta pieces over the filling then repeat the layering until each ramekin is full.  Use remaining italian blend cheese and parmesan cheese to top each lasagna.

Bake for 30 minutes until lasagna is bubbly and delicious.  Allow 10 minutes to cool then use a knife to loosen the edges around the ramekin and unmold onto serving dishes.

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Eggplant Parmesan

DF, V

It was a cold January week and I was craving something warm and hearty.  A dish with a great marinara sauce sounded delightful, but the thought of meat was drowning my hopes.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve been craving vegetarian dishes more and more.  Vegetables with marinara provide a lot of options, but eggplant parmesan was calling my name.  I just couldn’t resist…

eggplant parm

Eggplant Parmesan
1 large eggplant
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs italian seasoning
1/2 c red wine
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 c flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated if using
12 ounces grated mozzarella cheese if using

The morning of slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Lay on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.  Layer eggplant with salt and paper towels until all are covered. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large pot heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion, garlic and italian seasoning, cook until onions soften about 5 minutes.  Add red wine to deglaze the pan, cook until liquid reduces by half.  Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook over low heat covered for 30 minutes.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Make an assembly row with flour in a plate, eggs in one bowl, breadcrumbs in a plate (in that order).  Remove eggplant from frig and discard paper towels.  Working one at a time dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour, then dip in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in the breadcrumbs.  Meanwhile heat a large saute pan over medium high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add eggplant slices without crowding the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, you will need to work in batches.  Once cooked place on a paper towel lined plate until all are cooked.

Spread 1/4 c of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 8×8 inch dish.  Place a third of the eggplant rounds in a single layer on top of the sauce.  If not dairy free layer 1/3 of the mozzarella and parmesan on top of the eggplant.  Repeat 3 times.  Bake for 30 minutes or until thoroughly warmed.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Cherry Salad with Pesto Croutons

DF, V, VG

I feel like every time I go to the grocery store I see cherries starring me right in the face.  They are not only in season, but they’re also usually on sale.  Sounds like the beginning to a wonderful new recipe, and the best inspiration for new ideas.  Fresh ingredients packed with flavor make my job very easy.  So why not add them with other seasonal items like fresh crisp lettuce and scallions then pour a light vinaigrette over the top.  Yum!

Food 196

Cherry Salad with Pesto Croutons
2 tbs pesto, see recipe below
4 slices of sourdough bread, chopped into cubes
1 c cherries, pitted and sliced in half
4 c boston leaf lettuce aka butter or bibb lettuce
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
2 tsp honey
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl combine pesto and bread cubes. Lay out onto a sheet pan and bake until lightly toasted and crisp, about 15 mintues, then let cool slightly. In a large bowl combine cherries, lettuce, scallions, and croutons, set aside. In a small bowl use a fork to combine honey, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine.

Pesto
2 c packed basil
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2/3 c olive oil
1/2 c parmesan cheese (do not use for dairy free or vegan)

Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped. scrapping the sides as needed, then stream in olive oil until pesto is thick and smooth.  Stir in parmesan cheese if using.