Ottolenghi’s Butternut Squash Lasagna Pie

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
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. Transfer this mixture to your lined cake pan, adding a third at a time and pressing lightly to ensure everything is even and compact.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Slowly pour in the milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking with each addition until fully incorporated.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.*
  13. 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.
  14. 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.)
  15. 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.
  16. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  17. 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.

Curried Parsnips with Basil

I have one more root vegetable side dish to share. This dish was a flavor-packed way to enjoy the parsnips from my CSA share. The honey and coconut oil enhanced the natural sweetness of the parsnips.

The recipe was adapted from 177MilkStreet.com, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I omitted the coconut topping and modified the proportions. The original recipe advises not to use very large parsnips because they can taste bitter.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, preferably unrefined
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on a sharp diagonal (I used 8 medium parsnips)
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn or chiffonade
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened wide-flake coconut, toasted, optional (see note)
  • Lime wedges, to serve, optional
  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium, combine the oil, honey, mustard seeds, turmeric and curry powder. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add 1 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir in the parsnips and return to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the parsnips are almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. (*Don’t stir more than once or twice while the parsnips are simmering in the covered pot. Lifting the lid allows heat and steam to escape, which slows the cooking and may cause the pot to run dry.)
  4. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has evaporated, the parsnips begin to sizzle and a skewer inserted into the largest piece meets no resistance, another 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and spoon on any liquid remaining in the pot. Sprinkle with the basil and coconut, if using; serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Note: To toast the coconut, spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350°F until light golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

One-Pot Brown Butter Corn with Chicken Thighs

I have a couple more late-summer corn recipes to share. This wonderful weeknight dish was very quick to prepare. We ate it with steamed CSA green beans drizzled with basil vinaigrette and roasted potatoes, also from my CSA share. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 8 to 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 ears fresh corn
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves, chiffonade
  • lime wedges, for serving, optional
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, for serving
  1. Trim chicken thighs and pat dry. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Rub garlic and thyme on chicken, and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan with a lid available.) Add oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter, letting butter melt.
  4. Add chicken and sear, undisturbed, until browned on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, cut the kernels off the corn cobs. (I hold the corn upright in the center of a large bowl and cut off the kernels with a paring knife.)
  6. Over medium heat, add remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides and it smells nutty and toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. (Watch carefully to see that it doesn’t burn.)
  7. Add corn kernels and a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Sauté until tender and golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add chicken back to the skillet. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and corn is caramelized, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and taste corn, adding more salt and pepper if needed. (I removed the chicken prior to seasoning the corn.)
  10. Stir in basil, scallion slices, and squeeze 2 lime wedges over the top.
  11. If chicken was removed from the pan, scoop corn into a serving dish and top with the chicken.
  12. Serve garnished with more sliced scallions, basil and/or lime wedges, as desired.

Grilled Corn & Scallion Salad

We shopped at the farmers market to get beautiful corn and scallions for this summer side dish. I could happily eat corn and basil every day all summer long. 😉

This salad was very fresh and light. It was a perfect accompaniment to our dinner of grilled burgers (and Impossible burgers), pickles, tomato slices drizzled with basil vinaigrette, and potato chips, of course. We even had brownie ice cream sandwiches for dessert. A summer feast.

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I incorporated my CSA tomatoes and backyard basil. We ate it immediately but the components can also be made in advance. Perfect.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • cooking oil spray, for grill grates
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 bunch scallions (I used 4 huge scallions)
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 1/2 of a large lime)
  • 2 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz mixed heirloom tomatoes, chopped, and/or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sweet basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate (before heating).
  2. Grill husked corn and scallions, turning occasionally, until very tender and charred and blackened in spots, 10–12 minutes for corn, 5–7 minutes for scallions. (Alternatively, you can cut kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into ¼”–½” pieces; cook together in a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, turning and stirring occasionally, until charred in spots, about 4 minutes.)
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, sherry vinegar, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl to combine; season vinaigrette generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Cut corn kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into 1/2-inch pieces.
  6. Add corn kernels, scallions, tomatoes, and basil to vinaigrette and gently toss to combine.
  7. Top corn and scallion salad with more basil just before serving.

Do ahead: Corn and scallions can be grilled and vinaigrette can be made 3 days ahead; wrap corn and scallions separately and chill. Cover and chill vinaigrette. Salad (without basil topping) can be assembled 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.

Basil Vinaigrette

I used my beautiful CSA basil to make this flavorful vinaigrette. We ate it drizzled over my CSA tomatoes and cucumbers from a friend. We also enjoyed it on sourdough baguette slices. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Melissa Rubel Jacobson. The original recipe notes that it would also be great on grilled chicken or fish, on corn, or in pasta or panzanella salad.

Yield: Makes 1/3 cup

  • 1 small garlic clove 
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 1 1/2 to 2 T sherry or Champagne vinegar 
  • pinch of crushed red pepper 
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  1. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until chopped.
  2. Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add the oil, vinegar and crushed red pepper and process until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Chicken Parm Burgers

I loved the idea of transforming one of our absolute favorite comfort food dishes into a summer dinner made on the grill. The burgers were very moist and packed with flavor. We ate them on potato rolls with coleslaw, potato chips, pickles, and watermelon. Perfect!

This recipe was adapted form The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. We grilled the burgers, increased the amount of garlic, and used sliced fresh mozzarella. Cheesy and delicious.

Yield: Serves 4

  • olive oil or cooking oil spray
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 (1/4-inch thick) slices from a large ripe tomato
  • 4 (1/-4 inch thick) slices fresh mozzarella or 1/2 cup grated fresh or low-moisture mozzarella
  • potato rolls, burger buns or ciabatta rolls
  • baby spinach or arugula, for serving
  1. Lightly grease a large plate with olive oil or cooking oil spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, tomato paste, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. Gently incorporate the ground meat into the cheese mixture.
  4. Working the meat as little as possible, form 4 patties that are each about 4 1/2 inches wide and about 1/2 cup or 135 grams.
  5. Transfer to the greased plate, cover, and refrigerate. (This helps maintain the shape and also prevents the juices and fat from leaking.)
  6. On a rimmed plate, sprinkle the tomato slices with salt.
  7. If using grated mozzarella, stir together the mozzarella and the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  8. Preheat a grill to medium heat. (I used a griddle on the grill and preheated it at this time too.)
  9. Toast the buns on the preheated grill, if desired. (I omitted this step.)
  10. Oil the grill griddle and add the patties. Cook until browned underneath, 3 to 5 minutes. (Reduce heat if the patties are burning.)
  11. Flip the patties, top each with 1/2 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese followed by a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese (or with the combination of grated cheeses, if using).
  12. Cover the grill with the lid and cook until the cheese is melted and the patties are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  13. Pat the tomatoes dry.
  14. To each bottom bun, add a handful of baby spinach or arugula, followed by a slice of tomato, a chicken patty and its top bun. Serve hot with chips and coleslaw, as desired.

Creamy Ricotta & Herb Pasta

This quick summer dish gobbled up the cilantro from my CSA share. The sauce was silky and fresh.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I reduced the oil and modified the method. Next time I may add some lemon zest and/or toasted pine nuts. Easy and delicious!

  • salt
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as shells, cavatappi, chiocciole, farfalle, ditali or wagon wheels (I used cascatelli)
  • about 12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 2 1/2 cups soft herbs, packed, such as cilantro, basil, chives, fennel fronds, parsley, mint, tarragon, chervil or dill (try for a combination of at least 3 kinds), coarsely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • lemon zest, optional
  • handful of toasted pine nuts, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  2. In the same pot, make the sauce: Add ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, pepper and a large pinch or two of coarse salt, and stir until well combined.
  3. Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth.
  4. Coarsely chop the herbs with a food processor, if desired. (I used 1 cup dill, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 cup basil.)
  5. Add the cooked pasta and herbs, and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth, soupy sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  6. Incorporate lemon zest and/or pine nuts, if using.
  7. To serve, spoon the pasta into a serving bowl or individual bowls and finish with more Parmesan, drizzle of olive oil and more pepper, as desired.

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