Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Lasagna of Love...Valentine's Dinner

Lasagna is one of my favorite foods of all time, especially since childhood. I'm sure I have mentioned that before on this blog, and anyone who knows me will know this! Lasagna really is a labor of love as sauces and fillings must be made individually, noodles cooked, toppings prepared, and everything must be  seasoned just right to make the entire dish come together in harmony (wow, I even get poetic when writing about lasagna). This is the first time I have made this lasagna with cashew creme, and ingredient that I use often in my cooking, both savory and sweet. Cashew creme is an incredibly versatile and healthy replacement for dairy based creams/cheeses. If you want to know how to make cashew creme (very easy) read here. Once you have the basic creme made then you can season it with sea salt, lemon and nutritional yeast if you are using it as a savory cheesy replacement. If you want to use it like sour cream, then leave out the nutritional yeast.
Moving on! I also used my beloved Field Roast sausage as the protein in this lasagna. I simply took two links (I like the Fennel Apple flavor) and pulsed it in a food processor to make crumbles and then mixed that with about 1 cup of marinara.
The other layers of this lasagna are spinach and leeks that have been sauteed down with a hint of garlic and then mixed with the cashew creme. Atop that layer is a layer of roasted squash (yellow and zucchini both- make sure and season the veggies well) but you could use any veggies you like. Just be sure to cook the veggies prior to adding them to the lasagna, other wise they will release all of the water into the lasagna and nobody likes a watery, tasteless lasagna!
So again, this is layered as: Marinara, then noodles, spinach/creme mixture, veggies, noodles, crumbled sausage, noodles, red sauce, then cashew creme, topped with some homemade bread crumbs and sprinkled with oregano.
This was really a delicious lasagna. My hubby loved it and gobbled down two pieces! It was the perfect accompaniment to our Valentines evening. Followed by rich yet healthy brownies from the Millennium cookbook made with Ghiradelli cocoa in honor of our San Francisco roots- the city in which our love began.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kabocha Squash Curry

Last night I made this delicious Kabocha Squash Curry that is just loaded with delicious vegetables that soak up the silky and flavorful coconut milk curry. Some Thai restaurants do the Kabocha Squash curry, but certainly not all...I have found it can be hard to find. I really love this dish and vegetarian curries in general, but this to me, tops them all.  The squash is so sweet and buttery, but still has texture and bite to it. The kabocha squash is more dense than a butternut squash which and has a slightly different taste and a bright, beautiful color.
To cook the kabocha squash is actually quite easy. I first take the whole squash and put it in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes. This softens it up enough to where I can cut it in half easier. Take the two halves and scoop out the seeds in the inside. Then, put the two halves, cut side down on a baking sheet, and return to the oven for about 25-30 minutes depending on the size of your squash. You want it to be done, al dente as it will continue to cook as you simmer the curry. When the squash is cool enough to handle then take small scoops out of the squash leaving only the thick skin behind.

To make the curry, I saute up all my veggies, except for the squash, with lots of garlic, ginger and a bit of salt in coconut oil. In a separate saucepan, combine 1 can of coconut milk with 2 or so tablespoons of curry paste, and a small piece of lemongrass.  (or you can make your own, but that is a separate blog post. Thai Kitchen makes some good ones). After my veggies have started to soften, then I pour my coconut milk mixture over the veggies, add the squash and  let them all simmer together. I finish the dish with a squeeze of lime juice, some chopped thai basil, and a bit more salt if to taste. Remove the lemongrass and serve over a bed of delicious brown rice. In this picture I made a brown rice pilaf with almonds, peas, onions, and a bit more spice.

This is a hearty, nutritious dish with lots of warming spices perfect for a cold January night!