At the risk of turning orange from head to toe, we continue to eat squash almost daily, we especially love butternut squash and incorporate it into a variety of dishes including classics like lasagna. Making mashed vegetables has become second nature to me, I can do it with my eyes closed, or even when a little almost walking toddler is trying to explore the most interesting place in our home, the kitchen!
I make pureed butternut squash for little Sara all the time, she loves it but with our busy schedules, I try to make dishes that a 1 year old can eat but one that we will enjoy as well. After a long day, the last thing I want for dinner is a plate of food that tastes more like jarred baby food than anything else. So, instead of making two separate dishes, I put a portion aside for Sara and then season the rest with salt, pepper or sometimes a little brown butter and sage like this mashed sweet potato dish.
Like all winter squash, butternut squash too is loaded with carotenoids and have numerous health benefits. Low in fat and high in fibre, it’s a fantastic vegetable for fall and winter. It can be simply roasted with a little olive oil, salt and pepper or can be mashed to incorporate into muffin or cake batters…
Once you have all the components ready, you can assemble the lasagne in no time, the recipe looks long but the instructions are quite straight forward and some steps are completely optional. Like infusing the milk with herbs, spices and onion is optional but I think it enhances flavour of the dish significantly. It’s also a good dish to make when entertaining because it tastes best when it’s made ahead of time.
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ½ cup flour
- 5 cups whole milk
- 6-8 sage leaves
- 1 onion, peeled
- 2 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium butternut squash
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bolognese sauce (1/2 batch)
To assemble the lasagne:
- 9-12 sheets no boil lasagna noodles
- 1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash, trim and cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, seed and place on the baking sheet cut side down. Bake until the squash is tender. Let the squash cool, remove the flesh using a spoon and transfer to a food processor, puree until smooth, add the parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
To make the béchamel sauce, stud the onion with cloves, place it in a saucepan along with the milk, sage leaves and the bay leaf, let it come to a boil, remove from the heat and cover with a lid. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the flour and whisk for about two minutes. Remove the sage, onion and bay leaf from the milk and pour it gradually into the roux and whisk vigorously, the mixture should be smooth and there should be no lumps (if there are lumps, use an immersion blender), continue cooking until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg (season liberally because the pasta will absorb the sauce).
To assemble the lasagna, butter a 13 by 9 or 11 by 11 baking dish, spread about ¾ cup of the béchamel sauce, place the first layer of the lasagna noodles, spread the butternut squash mixture evenly, pour about a cup of the béchamel, and spread another layer of lasagna noodles. Spread about a cup of the béchamel directly over the noodles and pour the Bolognese sauce, top again with about a cup of béchamel and layer the lasagna noodles, pour the remaining béchamel and top with the grated mozzarella cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 375°F, bake the lasagna until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, let it stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
I would love to start this post by saying that I have spent a good part of the day preparing the chestnuts for this torte but I didn’t, instead I used high quality canned chestnuts that only has sugar and chestnuts in the ingredients list. Homemade roasted chestnuts make for a wonderful snack and it’s totally worth all the work (as a side note, I should also mention that my husband is in charge of roasting chestnuts) but washing, cutting an X on the chestnuts, cooking them in boiling water, removing the shell, then peeling and pureeing them is too much work for only three quarters of a cup of pureed chestnuts that is needed for this torte, besides if you have the canned chestnuts in the pantry, you can whip up this dessert in less than 10 minutes.
I made this torte for Passover months ago using mashed sweet potatoes, the original name was mock chestnut torte but since chestnuts are now in season and we eat fresh chestnuts on a regular basis, I thought it was also a good time to make the chestnut version of the recipe. The torte is moist and full of chocolate. If you can’t find canned chestnuts or prefer to prepare the chestnuts from scratch, add about 3-4 tbsp of sugar to the butter before adding the chestnut puree.
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup chestnuts, drained
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled (I used 70%)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cocoa (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
Puree the chestnuts in a food processor, measure ¾ cup and set aside.
Whip the egg whites until frothy, add sugar and continue whisking until they form firm peaks.
In another bowl, cream the butter and the chestnut puree, add the vanilla extracts and the egg yolks one at a time, scrape the sides of the bowl and slowly add the melted chocolate and salt.
Fold in about half the whipped egg whites using a whisk, fold the remaining egg whites gently with a spatula and transfer the batter to the cake pan, bake until the torte has slightly risen and has a few cracks formed on top. Serve with a light dusting of cocoa while still warm out of the oven or cold from the fridge the next day.
Today we celebrated Sara’s first birthday with our closest friends, it was a warm, friendly get together with lots of good food and most importantly, great conversation. And, needless to say, Sara was very spoiled and got the attention she wanted with all the cards, phone calls, gifts, cards and friends who came over. I should probably not go into the whole, ‘I can’t believe she just turned 1’ but I can’t help it, it sometimes feels like she has been with us forever and sometimes it feels like she was born yesterday. It’s not always a smooth ride; we go through the bumps and make sure to focus on the rest. She certainly has filled our lives with more joy, laughter and fun than we could have ever imagined. Happy Birthday Sara!
Now, since this is a food blog, I should probably at least mention something about the cake, daddy and I made a simple carrot bread, we chose carrot bread rather than a cake with lots of icing and food coloring because we wanted her to enjoy her first birthday cake without worrying about potential allergies and she did enjoy it, maybe even a little too much!
This carrot bread is loaded with carrots, it’s not too sweet and has a tender moist crumb, and it’s also dairy free. I posted the zucchini version of this recipe over the summer; I prefer the carrot one in the winter. Ms. Beranbaum recommends making the bread 24 hours ahead of time so the flavours have a chance to meld and the moisture gets distributed. Carrots are mostly water, so to make up for the small amount of flour and the large quantity of carrots, raisins are used both to sweeten and to absorb the moisture. The somewhat dry raisins become plump and juicy by the time you taste the cake.
- 1 ½ cup + 1 ½ tbsp all-purpose of whole wheat pastry flour plus more for the pan
- ½ tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup turbinado sugar
- ¼ cup oil plus more for the pan
- ¼ cup apple sauce
- 3 ½ cups coarsely grated carrots
- 1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a loaf pan, tap out the excess, set aside. In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar with a whisk, add the apple sauce and oil, sift the dry ingredients directly over the eggs, mix to combine, fold in the grated carrots and raisins with a spatula. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan and wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.
The name says it all but just in case you need a little more detail; this cake is filled with comforting autumn flavours, the freshly baked butternut squash puree gives this cake the tender crumb, the walnuts and walnut oil give a delicious nutty flavour, the only sweetener, maple syrup makes this quick bread just sweet enough and the spices I only made a few simple changes to the recipe here, I highly recommend it for breakfast or brunch or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
Adapted from Umamigirl
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup flaxseed meal
- 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup butternut squash puree
- ¼ cup walnut oil
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat the oven to 325F, grease a loaf tin with walnut oil. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, butternut squash puree, walnut oil and maple syrup until the mixture looks smooth, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined, fold in the chopped walnuts and pour the batter into the loaf tin.
Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to let it cool completely.