This special pie was the perfect way to use my CSA butternut squash and the very last leaves of my homegrown basil. The incorporation of cumin and coriander seeds gave it a unique flavor profile. Fancy comfort food. 🙂
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. Lovely.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the Pie:
4 T olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan (I used cooking oil spray on the pan)
10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 T cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 T coriander seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1 (9 to 12-ounce) jar red peppers, drained
1 tsp light brown sugar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, halved, deseeded and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (I used a mandoline to slice the squash)
8 ounces dried lasagna noodles, each roughly broken into 3 or 4 pieces (I used oven-ready no-boil lasagna)
7 ounces baby spinach (10 lightly packed cups)
1 packed cup basil leaves, torn in halves
1 cup crumbled Greek feta
heaping 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
For the Béchamel:
3 T unsalted butter
5 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
2 garlic cloves, minced
fine sea salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan then line it with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the base and hang over the sides by a couple inches. (I used cooking oil spray.) Place pan on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Add the oil to a small frying pan and heat over medium. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring until fragrant but not browned.
Add the tomato paste, cumin, coriander and chile flakes and cook for 1 minute more, stirring often, until deeply red. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add tomato paste mixture to a small food processor with the red peppers, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper; blitz until smooth. (I did this in 2 batches.)
Empty the mixture into a very large bowl and add the squash slices, lasagna pieces, spinach, basil, feta, Parmesan, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper. Use your hands to make sure everything is nicely coated.
Transfer this mixture to your lined cake pan, adding a third at a time and pressing lightly to ensure everything is even and compact.
Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap the cake pan all around until tightly sealed, place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
Toward the last 15 minutes of baking time, make the béchamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking steadily, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it starts to smell like popcorn.
Slowly pour in the milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking with each addition until fully incorporated.
Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use a spatula to stir and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to ensure the bottom doesn’t scorch, until nice and smooth.
Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. *If the pie isn’t done, cover the top with a piece of parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming. The béchamel is easier to handle when warm; if needed, reheat gently with a splash of milk to loosen.*
After the pie has cooked for 1 hour, remove it from the oven and carefully unwrap the top foil and paper, crinkling it down and around the sides of the pan to expose the top.
Spoon the béchamel on top, using a spatula to distribute it evenly over the surface. (Take care not to mix it with the base; you want the béchamel to remain white.)
Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees, preferably on convection, and place the cake pan back on its baking sheet and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until nicely browned on top.
Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Carefully release the pie from the springform pan, loosening the outer ring then using the parchment to help lift it onto a serving plate or board. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I have a couple delicious weeknight pasta recipes to share.
The original recipe for this dish described it as “weeknight fancy”- loved it. The spicy brown-butter coated walnut topping was an essential element to earn this description.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I served the flavorful sauce over arugula-parmesan ravioli and incorporated garlic and asparagus. I also modified the method. Any variety of store-bought ravioli would work with this dish.
Yield: Serves 4
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 10 oz package frozen peas (about 2 cups)
1 cup (lightly packed) basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
4 T unsalted butter, divided
16–20 oz fresh or frozen ravioli (I used Trader Joe’s fresh Arugula & Parmesan Ravioli)
4 T (1/4 cup) coarsely chopped raw walnuts or pistachios
1 tsp Aleppo-style pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, optional
Place the frozen peas in a fine-mesh sieve and place in a large pot of boiling salted water; cook until peas are tender, about 4 minutes.
Lift sieve from water to drain peas and basil and transfer to a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)(Alternatively, you can skip the sieve and use a spider or slotted spoon to fish out the peas and basil.)
Reduce heat to medium-low and keep cooking liquid warm. (You will use it for the sauce, ravioli and the asparagus, if using.)
Add the basil, garlic, grated Parmesan, 2 tablespoons butter (cut into 4 pieces) and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to the blender with the peas.
Blend, gradually increasing speed to high and adding up to 1/4 cup additional cooking liquid as needed, until you have a mostly smooth, fairly loose sauce; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (I didn’t add any additional liquid.)
Return cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Add ravioli -and asparagus, if using. Cook, stirring gently to unstick, until tender, about 3 minutes or according to package directions. Drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta liquid. Reserve pot.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the chopped nuts and cook, stirring often, until butter begins to smell toasty and turn brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
Add Aleppo-style pepper, finely grate in lemon zest, and season lightly with salt; mix well.
Slice lemon into wedges.
Return cooked ravioli -and asparagus, if using- to pot, pour pea sauce over, and stir gently to coat. At this point, the consistency can be adjusted with reserved pasta water, if necessary. Using a large spoon, transfer ravioli to plates or a serving dish.
Top with more Parmesan and basil, then spoon brown-butter nuts over the top. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over, as desired.
I have a couple more dishes featuring sweet summer corn to share. This quick stir-fry was perfect to serve after a busy day outside. After prepping the ingredients in advance, it was fully prepared in the time that it took for the rice to cook.
This recipe was (slightly) adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. The original recipe notes that peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash could be substituted for the fresh corn. Great!
Yield: Serves 4
3 T oyster sauce
1 T unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 to 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb), cut into 1-inch pieces
This is a crowd-pleasing and quick summer dish. It was a wonderful meal served with a giant green salad. The original recipe notes that any summer vegetable, or a combination, can be used instead of the fresh corn. Chopped tomatoes, broccoli, summer squash, or even green beans would work.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions. Great!
Yield: Serves 6
16 oz rigatoni
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 sprigs basil, plus 1 cup leaves for serving
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or other mild red pepper flakes)
fresh corn kernels from 3 large ears
5 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 oz (about 1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high.
Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium and cook sliced garlic in same pot, stirring occasionally, until light golden around edges, about 2 minutes.
Add basil sprigs and Aleppo pepper; cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 1 minute.
Place an ear of corn upright in a medium sized bowl. Use a knife to cut off the kernels. (The bowl will prevent the kernels from flying all over the counter.)
Add corn and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the pot and cook, stirring often, until corn is mostly tender, about 3 minutes.
Stir in pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking water.
Add butter and cook, stirring, until butter is melted and sauce is smooth and creamy.
Add the Parmesan in several additions, stirring after each addition until sauce is smooth.
Return sausage to pot and cook until flavors meld, about 1 minute. If needed, add additional pasta cooking liquid to loosen the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Place in a serving bowl or individual shallow bowls. Top with basil leaves and more Parmesan and serve.
This dish was unbelievably flavorful, colorful, delicious, healthy, and quick to prepare! I am such a fan of Spanish romesco sauce which is usually prepared with red bell peppers; this carrot-pine nut version was wonderful. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. I increased the amount of pork, greens, and red wine vinegar. I also used red pepper flakes instead of Aleppo pepper and baby arugula in lieu of watercress or baby mustard greens. We ate it with roasted gold potatoes on the side. Fabulous!!
¼ cup raw pine nuts
1½ pound small carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise if larger
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium pork tenderloins
1 small garlic clove
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided, plus more to taste
7 ounces spicy greens, such as baby arugula, watercress, or baby mustard
Preheat oven to 350° (on convection roast).
Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes; let cool.
Increase temperature to 450° (on convection roast). Toss carrots with 1 Tbsp. oil on another rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until softened and browned, 15–20 minutes; let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season tenderloins with salt and black pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 145°, 8–10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Mince garlic in a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and remaining 3 Tbsp. oil and pulse to a coarse paste. Add Aleppo pepper, one-fourth of carrots, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, and 1 Tbsp. water. Process, adding more water as needed, to a coarse purée; season romesco with salt, black pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
Toss greens with remaining carrots and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar in a large bowl; season with salt and black pepper. Drizzle pork with pan juices. Serve pork with romesco and salad.