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.

Brussels & Broccoli Agrodolce with Cranberries & Chilies

This is a simple and elegant vegetable side dish that I served as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. It was easy to prepare while the turkey was resting after being removed from the oven. The dried cranberries and fresh chilies added contrasting color and flavor. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ann Taylor Pittman. I substituted Shishito chilies for Fresno. I also modified the method. I wish that I had doubled the recipe! Next time. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts (about 3 cups), halved lengthwise 
  • 6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 14 ounces) 
  • 5 T avocado oil or canola oil, divided 
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot 
  • 4 Shishito chiles or 1 medium-size fresh red Fresno chile (about 1/2 ounce), thinly sliced 
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed 
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) honey 
  • 1 dried bay leaf 
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  1. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven. Preheat oven to 425 on convection or to 450°F. Leave baking sheet in oven as it preheats. (I set my oven to convection roast.) 
  2. Place Brussels sprouts and broccoli in a large bowl; drizzle with 4 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Toss well to coat.
  3. Carefully remove hot baking sheet from oven.
  4. Add Brussels sprout mixture to baking sheet; spread in an even layer.
  5. Roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and browned and broccoli tops are frizzled and almost burned, 15 to 18 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add shallot, Fresno chile, and coriander; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot starts to soften, about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in vinegar, honey, bay leaf, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly syrupy, 6 to 8 minutes.
  9. Stir in cranberries; cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have plumped slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. 
  10. Place roasted vegetables in a large bowl; add cranberry mixture, and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

One-Pot Chicken & Farro with Caramelized Leeks

This is another weeknight one-pot chicken dinner. I loved the colorful and fresh topping- I would add even more next time! This dish also incorporated farro which is one of my absolute favorites. It could appropriately be served any time of year.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used sherry vinegar in the topping and modified the proportions and method. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6) or use whole legs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel or coriander seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled or semi-pearled farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro)
  • 1+ cup quartered or halved cherry or grape tomatoes or diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
  • fresh lime or lemon juice, or vinegar, to taste, such as cider vinegar or sherry vinegar (I used 1-2 T sherry vinegar)
  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper, and set aside while preparing the leeks.
  2. Trim roots from leeks, then cut away any wilted, yellowing or browned parts from the greens. Slice leeks in half lengthwise. Wash well under cold running water to remove any soil, then shake dry. (I soak them in a bowl of water.)
  3. Thinly slice the leeks (including the greens) into half-moons. You should have about 6 cups. Measure out about 2 tablespoons of sliced leek whites and set them aside for garnish.
  4. In a large skillet with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. (I used a wide and low enameled cast iron skillet.)
  5. When the oil thins and coats the bottom of the pan, add half the chicken and cook until browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes on the first side ad 3 to 5 minutes on the second side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Stir in the leeks and a pinch of salt. Sauté until tender and golden brown, 9 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in crushed spices, thyme sprigs and tomato paste, and cook until tomato paste darkens and caramelizes, 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  10. Stir in farro and 1 teaspoon salt. When the liquid comes to a simmer, nestle in the browned chicken, skin-side up; pour in any juices from the plate. Cover pan and let cook until the farro is tender and the chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together the reserved leek whites, chopped tomatoes and parsley. Season to taste with salt, pepper and an acid like lemon or lime juice or vinegar. (I used sherry vinegar.) The mixture should taste tangy and bright.
  12. Discard the thyme sprigs, and serve chicken and farro topped with the tomato mixture.

Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Zucchini & Basil

This healthy and delicious summer meal was quick to prepare- a great combination. The recipe caught my eye after receiving some beautiful zucchini from a neighbor. Perfect.

I was also able to use my new Japanese mortar and pestle to crack the coriander seeds. Exciting! 😉 The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, modified the roasting time and method, and served the dish over brown Basmati rice to absorb all of the wonderful pan juices.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 8 thighs)
  •  coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • 3 large or 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
  • 2 tsp dried mint or oregano
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a chef’s knife
  • 1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from half of a lemon, plus lemon wedges, for serving, as desired
  • 1/2 cup torn or chiffonade fresh basil leaves, for serving
  • 1 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast with a racks positioned in the center and top third of the oven.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the rice. Cover, reduce temperature to low and cook for 30 minutes or until cooked.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  4. Place zucchini on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan, and season with a little more salt and pepper.
  5. In a small bowl, combine garlic, mint or oregano, coriander and red-pepper flakes. Whisk in oil.
  6. Add chicken to the pan with the zucchini pieces and pour garlic mixture over all, tossing until well coated.
  7. Spread chicken and zucchini in a single layer, and roast until chicken for 10 to 12 minutes. (I placed the chicken “skin side down.”)
  8. Remove pan from the oven and flip chicken over (to “skin side up”).
  9. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and zucchini is browned and caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes more, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
  10. Remove the pan from the oven and squeeze the juice from half of a lemon over the chicken and zucchini.
  11. To serve, fill a rimmed platter with the rice. Top with the chicken and zucchini followed by a drizzle of pan juices over the top.
  12. Garnish with basil and serve with more lemon wedges and red-pepper flakes on the side, as desired.

Lentil & Orzo Stew with Lemon & Coriander-Spiced Roasted Eggplant

Happy 2019! I have a few healthy “January” recipes to share before getting back to my belated holiday menu recipes. 🙂

This wonderful stew was hearty and healthy. The flavors in the dish were brightened with lemon zest and juice. I also loved that the roasted eggplant was seasoned with crushed coriander seeds- it made it a more special topping.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. I doubled the recipe, increased the garlic and eggplant, decreased the oil, and used green lentils and feta cheese. Excellent.

Yield: 8 servings

  • roughly 3 pounds eggplant (I used 3 medium eggplant), chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 T olive oil, divided
  • 2 T coriander seeds, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 cups dried lentils (green, black or brown)
  • 10 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock & 6 cups chicken stock)
  • 1 cup orzo or other small pasta
  • zest and juice from 2 lemons, plus lemon wedges for garnish
  • ¼ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta, or to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on 2 parchment paper-lined large rimmed baking sheets and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
  3. In a large stock pot, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.) Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
  6. Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and crumbled feta or large shavings of ricotta salata. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing, as desired.

Indian Tomato Rice

I couldn’t stop myself from trying- and sharing- one more recipe in Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking book. 🙂 This recipe was inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s tomato rice recipe in Vegetarian India.

This quick and versatile dish can be served as a side with seafood, chicken, or, as Kimball suggests, a simple fried egg. We ate it as a light meal with sautéed chard with garlic and cumin. I loved the layers of spices. I used serrano chiles instead of bird’s-eye chiles.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T grapeseed or other neutral oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp brown or black mustard seeds
  • 2 serrano or bird’s-eye chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  1. In a bowl, combine the rinsed rice with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain the rice very well
  2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the 1 1/4 cups water and tomato paste; whisk until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium, combine the oil, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, chiles, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the seeds begin to pop and the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the rice and salt and cook, stirring, until coated with oil, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the water-tomato paste mixture and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat, add the tomatoes and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the cilantro, fluffing the rice with a fork.

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