I had ambitious cooking plans for the week. I also had ambitious work plans. Work won out, and that's why I have a head of green cabbage, a butternut squash, and a couple of beets to carry me into the coming CSA week.
Still, we had two good CSA-centric meals. One was a pot of roasted vegetables that included this week's eggplant and tomatoes along with onions, garlic, pepper, and potato. It was similar to ratatouille, but accompanied by a Thai-inspired peanut sauce. (I liked it better without the sauce.) The other meal was lasagna, a multi-step, multi-pot concoction that I decided to tackle when a client's database problems prevented me from logging into work. (Ah, the joys of being a remote freelancer.) The lasagna, which used up one of our butternut squashes and our kale, ultimately was worth the work. It would make a lovely vegetarian entree for Thanksgiving.
Lasagna With Squash and Kale
(Adapted from Sunset Magazine. The lasagna can be assembled and refrigerated up to a day ahead of baking.)
4 Tbsp olive oil (divided use)
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic (1 minced; 2 peeled but left whole)
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 pounds squash)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 pound kale
9 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (8 oz.)
1 container (15 oz.) part-skim ricotta cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese (divided use)
Prepare the sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat. Cook the onion and minced garlic for about 5 minutes, or until the onion softens, then add in the tomatoes, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, then set aside.
Prepare the squash: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash cubes and the whole garlic cloves with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with the thyme; sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. (I used only pepper.) Spread on a large baking pan (10 by 17 inches) and bake until soft, about 15 minutes. (Note: The squash won't cook that fast if your cubes are larger than the 1/2-inch dice.) Let the squash and garlic cool a bit, then puree them in a food processor and set aside.
Prepare the kale: Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Remove the center ribs from the kale leaves. Discard the ribs and boil the kale leaves for about 5 minutes or until soft. Drain, let cool, then squeeze out as much water as possible from the leaves. Chop the leaves finely.
Prepare the noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the lasagna noodles, a few at a time, to keep the water boiling. Cook the noodles for about 10 minutes, or as directed on the packaging, until tender. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Separate the noodles and lay out on wax paper to keep them from sticking to one another.
Prepare the cheese: Mix together the ricotta cheese, nutmeg, 1 cup of mozzarella, and another 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
Assemble the lasagna: Layer the components in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish in this order, spreading the layers as evenly as possible:
- 1.5 cups tomato sauce
- 3 noodles
- All of the squash
- One-half of the kale
- 3 noodles
- All of the ricotta cheese mixture
- All of the remaining kale
- 3 noodles
- Remaining tomato sauce
- Remaining 1 cup mozzarella (or a bit less, depending on taste)