Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne

  • 10-12 lasagne noodles (more if you’re making a big pan of lasagne)
  • one big butternut squash, halved, seeded and baked
  • a bunch of fresh spinach leaves, 8 ounces minimum
  • one large sweet onion, sliced, caramelized
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups bechamel sauce
  •  dash of nutmeg
  • salt and peppers (black and white)
  • grated parmesan
  • shredded mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take the squash halves, lightly grease the cut sides with olive oil, and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately one hour.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, scoop the squash into a mixing bowl.  Smash with a fork and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  4. Caramelize your onion and set aside.  No salt or pepper at this step.
  5. Wilt the spinach in a pan over medium heat.  Cool, chop, season with salt, black pepper, nutmeg and set aside.
  6. Prepare your bechamel sauce (half stick of butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup parmesan, 3 cups milk, salt, white pepper).  Set aside.
  7. Cook the noodles until al dente.  Use more or less noodles, depending on how big you want your tray of lasagne to be.
  8. In a baking dish large enough for the desired dish of lasagne, cover the bottom with several spoonfuls of bechamel sauce.
  9. Arrange a layer of lasagne noodles in the baking dish. Spread prepared squash evenly over the noodles.  Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella.
  10. Fold the spinach and onions into the ricotta.   Add another layer of noodles.  Spread some sauce, the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture, and cheeses evenly.
  11. Keep layering, alternating the vegetable layers, and ending with a plain noodle top.
  12. Cover the top with bechamel and cheeses.
  13. Bake uncovered for for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.
  14. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

I had forgotten how much time it takes to make lasagne.  This recipe in particular takes hours due to the vegetable prep.  The next time I make this I’ll prepare the vegetables the night before and assemble/bake the next day.  There are a billion of these squash and spinach lasagne recipes on the internet.  I bet virtually none of them tell you how long this sucker takes to make.

But it was worth it!  If you like butternut squash and you like spinach you will like this veggie pasta bake.  But in the effort of full disclosure I thought I’d screwed up this lasagne because when I got to the final naked noodle layer I realized I had left out a few steps.

I forgot to put any parmesan or mozzarella on any of my layers.  I forgot to add parmesan to the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture.  Too late to deconstruct so I put the dish in the oven and hoped for the best.  To my surprise I didn’t miss the missing cheeses.  The lasagne turned out OK.  Less cheese allowed the flavors of the vegetables to shine.

I guess this recipe is a keeper.

 

 

Banana Oat Pancakes

I took some vacation days in a valiant “use ’em or lose ’em” effort.  Today is the first day of an extended weekend in which I have nothing planned.  So without any work to be done I did what most people would do with plenty of time on their hands.

Make pancakes.

When The Architect and The Doctor were kids I made pancakes all the time.  Nowadays with just two in the house and one a non-pancake lover I don’t make pancakes that often anymore.  But I had time, two very ripe bananas, and buttermilk in the fridge.  And I was getting tired of banana muffins so…

Banana Oat Buttermilk Pancakes

  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup low fat milk
  • 2 ripe bananas, smashed
  • Dash cinnamon

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flours, rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl combine eggs, buttermilk, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir batter just till blended.  Add two smashed bananas and fold gently into the batter.  Allow the batter to sit for 15 – 30 minutes before frying.
For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto a lightly greased preheated griddle or heavy skillet. Cook several pancakes at a time over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or till the tops are evenly bubbled and the edges are dry, then turn and cook until golden brown on the second side.

TIPS

The banana in the batter will burn easily so cook these cakes at a lower temperature than you normally use for pancakes.  I finally figured out medium was a good temperature.  The pancakes will take a little longer to cook but they won’t turn out dark brown.  These pancakes are pretty sweet by themselves but knock yourself out if you want to eat them with real maple syrup.  Fresh fruit would be better.  And peanut butter would be the best.

Peanut butter and banana pancakes.  Yup.