Cheesy Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash & Greens

My kids love the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Trader Joe’s. (It sells out daily- so they are clearly not alone!) This vegetarian comfort food dish seemed reminiscent enough to be a crowd-pleaser. ūüėČ I liked that it incorporated leafy greens too.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I modified the method and proportions. I also added a poblano chile, red onion, garlic, and cilantro. Nice.

Yield: Serves 6

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 1 poblano chile, seeded, ribbed, and diced, divided (or 1 jalape√Īo, sliced into rounds)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound rigatoni, penne, or other tubular pasta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano), divided
  • 4 packed cups greens (I used 2 cups turnip greens (sliced into 1-inch ribbons) and 2 cups baby spinach)
  • 8 oz (1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size chunks
  • 1/3 cup cilantro or flat-leaf parsley and tender stems, roughly chopped, for garnish
  1. Bring a large covered pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente, 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions. (It should be a little too firm to the bite.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with high sides and a tight-fitting lid (or a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add the diced onion and half of the diced poblano chile, season with salt, and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the cubed squash and season with salt, cumin, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring every minute, until squash becomes browned in spots and feels just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection.)
  7. When the squash is just tender, add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Bring to an active simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft and easily mashable, 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, then use the back of a wooden spoon to crush about half of the butternut squash and leave the rest chunky. Season the squash to taste, keeping in mind that salty Parmesan will be added soon.
  9. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the remaining 1 cup of reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Stir vigorously to combine.
  10. Stir in the greens one handful at a time until each addition wilts slightly.
  11. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, the mozzarella, and the remaining diced poblano chile. Place in the oven and cook until the top is melted and browned in spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
  12. Top with minced cilantro and serve.

One-Pan Orzo with Spinach & Feta

This is another weeknight dish loaded with spinach. I also incorporated my CSA turnip greens. It features many of the flavors of my favorite Greek dishes, including lemon zest, feta, and fresh herbs. I used parsley from my CSA share as well.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. It was very quick and easy to prepare. I used a large, wide enameled cast iron pot. I increased the amount of garlic and modified the cooking method.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

  • 2¬†tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4¬†large scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 to 4¬†large garlic cloves, minced
  • 8¬†ounces baby spinach leaves (8 cups), coarsely chopped (I used 6oz spinach and 2oz turnip greens)
  • 1¬†teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4¬†cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1¬†cup orzo
  • 1¬†teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4¬†cup crumbled feta (3 ounces), plus more for garnish
  • 1/2¬†cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1¬†cup fresh dill, or use parsley or cilantro, chopped
  1. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium, then melt butter, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Stir in about three-quarters of the scallions (saving some of the green parts for garnish) and garlic, and cook until softened, stirring frequently, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Stir in orzo, lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until orzo is nearly cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  5. Stir in spinach (and other greens, if using), adding in batches if it doesn’t all fit in the pan at once, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in cheese, peas, and dill/parsley/cilantro, cover the pan, and cook for another 1 minute, to finish cooking and warm the peas.
  7. To serve, sprinkle with more cheese and the reserved scallions.

Spinach Lasagna

  • 16 dried (no-boil) or fresh lasagna noodles
  • 3 to 4 cups good tomato sauce (I used 28 oz jar Rao’s marinara)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach, steamed, squeezed dry and chopped (about 3 cups cooked)
  • 12 oz (1 1/2 cups) whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated mozzarella
  • 2 cups finely grated Parmesan (I used 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and 1 cup Pecorino-Romano)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. If you’re using fresh pasta sheets, cut them into long wide noodles approximately 3 inches by 13 inches, or a size that will fit into your lasagna dish. (I used 16 dried no-boil lasagna noodles from Trader Joe’s)
  2. Steam the spinach until wilted, and drain. (I steamed it in a large pasta pot for 3-4 minutes.) In batches, use a potato ricer to remove excess liquid. Coarsely chop.
  3. Combine the ricotta, egg, nutmeg, and garlic in a bowl.
  4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  5. Grease a rectangular baking dish with the olive oil, add a large dollop of tomato sauce and spread it around.
  6. Put a layer of noodles (use four per layer) in the dish; top with a layer of tomato sauce, one-third of the spinach, and one-fourth of the ricotta mixture (in dollops), the mozzarella, and the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  7. Repeat the layers twice.
  8. Top with the remaining noodles, tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan; the top should be covered with cheese; add more ricotta and Parmesan as needed. (The lasagna may be made ahead to this point, wrapped tightly and refrigerated for up to a day or frozen. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
  9. Cover with parchment paper topped with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Uncover, and continue to bake until the lasagna is bubbling and the cheese is melted and lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes more.
  11. Remove from the oven and let rest a few minutes before serving.

Update: This lasagna was also successful made with 1 1/2 pounds of mixed greens. I used beet greens, turnip greens, red kale, spinach, and chicory. Great.

Orecchiette with Greens, Mozzarella & Crispy Chickpeas

I love a recipe that gobbles up the greens from my CSA share. I have made this dish a couple of times using whatever combination of greens I had available. Recently, I used turnip greens, kale and spinach but I have also used chard and baby collard greens in the past. The classic combination of basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella was a nice complement to the sautéed greens as well.

This quick dish was adapted from a Food and Wine staff favorite recipe, contributed by Marcie Turney. I doubled the recipe, decreased the red pepper flakes, and increased amount of fresh mozzarella. SO delicious.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound greens such as Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens, spinach, stemmed and leaves coarsely chopped (or more, as desired)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 16 large basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium, deep skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Transfer them to a paper towel‚Äďlined plate, sprinkle with the cumin and coriander and season with salt and black pepper. Discard the oil and wipe out the skillet.
  3. Add the olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened, 3 minutes.
  5. Add the greens and cook, stirring, until wilted, 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of reserved cooking water to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring until incorporated.
  7. Add the mozzarella and basil and toss. Add more pasta water, if necessary.
  8. Spoon the pasta into bowls, sprinkle with the chickpeas and serve.

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Fried Eggs with Greens & Mushrooms

This is another greens-loaded, fast and delicious weeknight meal. It would also be wonderful served at a brunch. The sage-chile butter really added something special to the finished dish. Hearty and vegetarian. Great!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I increased the amount of garlic and greens. I also used a combination of escarole, sugarloaf chicory, turnip and kohlrabi greens from my CSA share; any combination of greens would work well. We ate it with a sourdough baguette. I read a suggestion to eat it with grits which would be another tasty option.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4

For the Sage-Chile Butter:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon small sage leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

For the Eggs and Greens:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8-12 cups cooking greens (cut into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons), such as collard, mustard, or kale (or any combination)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • sourdough baguette, for serving, if desired
  1. Make the sage-chile butter: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sage and red-pepper flakes. Simmer until sage is crisp, about 3 minutes.
  2. Make the eggs and greens: Heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Swirl in oil. Cook mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon salt until golden and tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in garlic, then greens and water.
  4. Cook, stirring, until greens wilt. Add unsalted butter, and stir until melted.
  5. Push greens to make 4 wells. Crack 1 egg into each. Season with salt (and pepper, if desired). Cook for 4 minutes. Let stand until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes.
  6. Drizzle with sage-chile butter. Garnish with grated cheese accompanied by baguette slices, as desired.

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Green-Lentil Curry

I just feel so healthy eating a dish like this. ūüôā Served over brown rice with yogurt and warm naan, this dish is an amazing complete vegetarian meal. The lentils have a little bit of heat and the yogurt tempers it perfectly.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Madhur Jaffrey. It was voted one of their “Best New Vegetarian” dishes. I believe it! ūüôā I doubled the recipe, used French green lentils, a combination of ghee and coconut oil, and substituted¬†beet and turnip greens for the kale. Satisfying and tasty!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 4 garlic clove,¬†put through a garlic press
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons¬†ghee
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 large¬†shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 2 tablespoon of water
  • 2 1/2¬†cups dried French green lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 8 ounces green beans, cut into 3/4-inch lengths
  • 8 ounces kale, or other greens stemmed and leaves¬†cut into ribbons (I used about 10 cups of mixed beet & turnip greens)
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • brown Basmati rice, warm naan, and plain Greek yogurt, for serving
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, coriander and ground cumin. Stir in 1/2 cup of water to make a paste.
  2. In a small skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderately high heat for 5 seconds, just until sizzling.
  3. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the spice paste and let cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until thick, about 1 minute longer. IMG_0461
  5. In a saucepan, combine the lentils with the turmeric and 10 cups of water; bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are barely tender.
  6. Add the green beans, greens, carrot, three-fourths of the cilantro and the cayenne and season with salt.
  7. Cook until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 15 minutes.
  8. Scrape in the spice paste and the remaining cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes, then serve.

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Escarole, Feta & Shrimp Pasta

When I have escarole in my CSA box, I try to make something new. It seems that the most classic use for escarole is in an Italian white bean soup, but I try to branch out. ūüėČ

This is a quick, cheesy, creamy, TERRIFIC escarole pasta dish. We loved it. The recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I used one half of a head of escarole subsidized with CSA turnip and beet greens. I also modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound to 1 pound short pasta, such as campanelle, farfalle, cappellacci, or gigli
  • 1 large head¬†escarole, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips (I used 1/2 head escarole as well as turnip and beet greens)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic¬†cloves, sliced
  • 3/4 to 1 pound large¬†shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 8 ounces feta, crumbled (about 2 cups)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 1 minute less than package instructions.
  2. Add escarole and cook 1 minute. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  4. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  5. Add shrimp, season with salt, and cook until opaque throughout, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add pasta mixture and scant 1/2 cup pasta water and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in yogurt, feta, and dill. If necessary, add more pasta water to create a light sauce that coats pasta. (I reserve the additional pasta water to use when reheating leftovers.)
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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