Super Duper Butternut Squash And Goats Cheese Lasagna

I made this lasagna a few weeks ago on a Saturday night and to be honest not a day has gone by when one of us hasn’t mentioned it. In fact, just a week after the initial creation I had to go to Sainsburys and buy all the ingredients again because we just had to have it for dinner, it wasn’t even an option.

Butternut squash is one of my all time favourite vegetables and I really wanted to make a lasagna based around it, as something a bit different from the usual veggie mince ones we make. I also wanted to incorporate goats cheese as everything goats cheese touches turns to gold. I googled extensively for recipes but couldn’t find any that were exactly what I wanted so I decided to just wing it, lasagna is pretty forgiving when it comes to experimentation!

The only thing I would say is that this lasagna was quite expensive but I did have to buy all the ingredients from scratch as we didn’t have any. As a special treat I think I’m going to write out exactly what I did in case anyone wants to make it, please do because it really is phenomenal!!

So, to make this super duper Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Lasagna you will need:

1 large butternut squash

2 medium sweet potatoes

500g baby leaf spinach (or you could use frozen, just drain it to within an inch of it’s life)

chopped tomatoes

lasagna sheets (dry or fresh)

grated cheddar cheese

goats cheese

white lasagna sauce (you should probably make it but I was already dreading the butternut squash chopping and so lazily bought a Dolmio jar)

sage

garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

So! With all your ingredients lovingly lined up on the counter (or not if you’re not quite as sad as me) we can begin! First of all I tackled the squash. I bought a HUGE one so had to use a very large knife to even begin to make some damage. I peeled it first til I was down to the lovely orange flesh. I then cut it in half lengthways, scooped out all the seeds and sliced it into approximately 1 inch thick slices. Such a gorgeous colour!

 

 

I chopped these slices into cubes and put them onto a large baking tray to wait patiently for me while I sliced the sweet potatoes. I peeled those bad boys and cut them into cubes of the same size of the squash – let me tell you slicing sweet potato after slicing butternut squash is like a walk in the park, it was like cutting butter!

Once my potatoes were cut into neat cubes I added them to the baking tray, shook them around a bit and drizzled them with olive oil, salt, pepper and four whole garlic cloves (vampires love lasagna). I then added the MAGIC ingredient, sage! I used fresh sage which I really think is quite important in this recipe, it was only 78p so I pushed the boat out. I picked off about 5 leaves and dotted them around the tray.

 

 

Yummy! I popped the beauties in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180. Now at this point I found it to be a great time to grab a glass of vino and put your feet up, as all the manual labour was done and the rest of the recipe is just layering and arranging, very girly!

 

 

After about 40 minutes the squash and potato were smelling absolutely amazing and I was having great difficulty restraining myself from pouring the whole lot in a bowl and eating it in front of the TV with aforementioned wine. It was the sage that really made the flavours all come together; it goes all crispy and yummy looking so don’t throw it away, pop it in the lasagna! I squeezed open the garlic cloves which had roasted spectacularly and put the pulp into the lasagna too, waste not want not!

It was time to get serious now though. The moment every self-confessed lasagna freak loves, The Layering. There is something so theraputic about layering, I almost get into a kind of rhythm as I reach for each ingredient, watching my creation rise magnificently in front of me and imagining the guaranteed beauty of the cross-section once cooked. This lasagna is quite complex with quite a lot of layering possibilities. I started by putting the bag of spinach into a frying pan and turning the heat up until it started to wilt.

 

 

While it was wilting I assembled my ingredients – roasted squash and sweet potato, chopped tomatoes, lasagna sheets, white sauce and cheddar cheese. Layer me up baby!

 

 

Seriously, how amazing does that look? All those bright, gorgeous colours, it looks like a summers day! In fact I may have said just that, drunkenly, to my boyfriend as he came into the kitchen to check out my progress.

 

 

Now I feel I should explain the awkward elbowing/jostling for space effect occuring with the cheese. I actually ran out of grated chedder as I reached the surface and felt it would be a sensible idea to give my muscles a rest and just slice some. The second time I made this I ensured I had purchased enough goats cheese that there was enough to form a structurally strong layer on the top, thus negating the need for the not-quite-as-posh cheddar. As you can see from the photos, I created a simple layering system of lasagna sheets, butternut squash and sweet potato, tomatoes and spinach, followed by a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a generous glug of white sauce. I then repeated the process 3 times (it was a MASSIVE dish!) although I should add that the bottom layer consisted of tomatoes as over the years we have learned that for some reason lasagna sheets cook better when they are not right on the very bottom of the dish. One of lifes great mysteries that. The top layer had obviously the added goats cheese and the rest of the white sauce, plus some torn sage leaves for extra flavour. The entire dish (extremely weighty!) went into the oven for approximately an hour on 180 as I wanted to be sure the lasagna sheets were fully cooked. Upon final inspection I was greeted with this beheamouth…

 

 

Which I’m sure you’ll agree, looked terrific. We were very very excited. Within about 10 seconds of me hauling the dish from the oven Ben was besides me, plate in hand, offering to carve.

 

 

And carve I did! We just had the lasagna, no side salad, no chips, nothing. You don’t need anything else!

 

 

It was just incredible. The flavour of the sage came through in every bite, the squash was perfectly cooked, the cheddar had melted into the sauce making it extra cheesy and the goats cheese on top was crisp and strong. I saved the top layer for my very last bite and it was so worth the wait! I’m not going to lie to you, we both went back for seconds and very nearly thirds but we stopped ourselves at the last minute. I let it cool, wrapped it in foil and put it in the fridge overnight and we had it for lunch the next day, still delicious! This is a huge lasagna and unless you’re insanely greedy like us it should make 6 portions, possibly even 8 if teamed with a substantial side.

Just writing this post has made the cravings flare again with such alarming ferocity that it may have to be on the menu for this Saturday nights dinner.

Quick Weekday Dinner

I had had a really, REALLY bad day. Due to insanely high winds and general antisocial weather conditions, the trains had completely failed. There was a tree on the line a couple of stops before mine which I only discovered upon reaching the station in the morning. I could see people turning around and walking back the way I was coming, never a good sign…

To cut an extremely long and frustrating story short, all trains were delayed or cancelled and I had to walk back home and drive to work (45 minutes away) having already paid for my ticket which, due to the almost painful lack of decent customer support at South West Trains I knew I wouldn’t receive a refund on. The final straw was having to stay late at work, meaning I got home about 2 hours later than I would normally. Not at all ideal.

I was also absolutely starving and as any food lover knows, hungry + angry = hangry which is not the sort of position you want to find yourself in very often. If at all. I needed food and I needed it fast! There was a packet of Sainsburys Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini in the fridge which sounded absolutely stunning, confirmed by the realisation that it only took 2 minutes to cook. I put the kettle on and started the hunt for a pasta sauce. Hmm. A fruitless search. There was however a carton of chopped tomatoes in the cupboard so I set about making a quick and easy pasta sauce. I hate the taste of canned and chopped tomatoes and prefer to simmer them for a while with other flavours to remove the metallic/cardboard taste.

I started off by chopping some cherry tomatoes into halves and sauteing them with olive oil and lots of black pepper. They smelt absolutely amazing and I nearly abandoned the pasta idea in favour of good old tomatoes on toast! I saw sense though and continued my original plan. Once the tomatoes were quite broken up I added the chopped tomatoes and a minced clove of garlic. I let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes to get rid of all the liquid, then added two teaspoons of red pesto at the end. This was the best thing ever! The pesto added so much flavour to the tomatoes, mmmmm.

While I simmered the sauce for the last few minutes I quickly cut and toasted a slice of tiger bread. Before mincing the aforementioned garlic clove, I sliced the end off and rubbed it all over the toasted bread before adding a generous layer of Lurpak. I then switched on the grill and put the toast under there for a couple of minutes. Once it was crisped up nicely I added some grated chedder cheese and set it aside to toast right at the end. It smelt amazing! Nothing quite like the smell of garlic, I absolutely love it.

Finally, I poured my boiling water into a medium saucepan and once it was bubbling, added the pack of tortellini. It literally needed a minute and a half, I often overcook it as I worry it won’t be done but I have learnt to err on the side of caution and take it out about 30/45 seconds before I think it looks done, as it will continue cooking and heat the middle, leaving the pasta perfectly al dente. I popped the pasta in the colandar to drain and placed the now cheese topped bread under the grill. There were a few frantic minutes of trying to simultaneously plate up, clean up the kitchen and keep an eye on the garlic bread but it all came together quite well and I was so proud of my quick dinner!

 

 

It was the first time I’ve really made a homemade pasta sauce and it tasted amazing. I added a sprinkle of cheddar on top as clearly there is not enough cheese in spinach and ricotta tortellini.

 

 

 

 

The garlic bread was amazing due to the award-winning combination of garlic, bread and cheese and I can assure you that not a crumb was left on that plate.

 

 

 

 

Quick, easy, perfect weekday dinner, just what I needed after a long and stressful day. Pasta is one of my top comfort foods and since discovering the wonders of tortellini I am finding it difficult to go back to plain, un-filled pasta shapes.

One of these days I would love to make my own tortellini or ravioli but that, I think, will be the subject of a much longer blog post!

Tesco Tapas! Range

Me and Ben were recently in Tesco doing some shopping before Christmas and fancied a nice easy dinner that would also be a bit special. We noticed a new range in the chilled section and decided to give it a go!

It was the new Tapas! range, a collection of dishes available in a deal – 2 dishes for £4 or 6 for £10. We go to La Tasca quite often when they have their 50% off vouchers and love the food there. 6 dishes for £10 seemed really good value so we got stuck in! Ben is vegetarian so he chose a veggie paella and creamy mushrooms, I chose chorizo croquettes and chicken paella and we decided to share the (vegetarian) spanish omelette and patatas bravas. We also couldn’t resist getting some fresh olives from the deli counter so all in all we had quite a haul!

We eagerly set about cooking the dishes when we got home and found it was really easy. They all had similar cooking times and most just needed 20 minutes or so in the oven so there was no faffing about with timings (ideal when you fancy having a glass or two of wine!) I also quickly made some garlic mayonnaise as aioli is a constant accompaniment to the dishes at La Tasca and we love it! I just crushed a garlic clove into some Hellmans mayonnaise with some salt and pepper, really easy and it tasted lovely! Not quite aioli but good in a pinch!

In no time at all our feast was done and we plated it all up. Ben has just moved into a new house and we don’t have a coffee table yet so we had a little indoor picnic!

The chorizo and cheese croquettes. I was really excited for these but they were actually really bland, I ended up dipping them into my garlic mayonnaise to make them a bit more exciting. A disappointment!

Ben’s paella de verdunas – really nice, lots of little veggies (onions, mushrooms, peas, red pepper) and good amount of flavour. You also got a lot more rice than in the meat paella which was a bonus!

My paella valenciana. Chicken, prawns and spicy chorizo. This was really lovely! Nice heat from the chorizo and a good amount of prawns. Only got two bits of chicken though!

Champinoes al ajillo – Creamy garlic mushrooms. Ben really enjoyed these but we realised some bread would have been nice to use up the last of the sauce. I didn’t try them as I am not fond of mushrooms.

Patatas Bravas. There was no question when we spotted these that we would be adding cheese, we ALWAYS order our patatas bravas con queso when at La Tasca and couldn’t really imagine having them without! These were really lovely, the sauce was quite spicy and there was lots of it so the potatoes weren’t dry at all. Really good sized portion as well, we didn’t finish them!

Tortilla! This was delicious, and huge! Really the best value item in the deal I think, we each had a couple of slices and were full! Lots of yummy leftovers. Spanish Omelettes are quite bland but we added the garlic mayo and ate it with the tomato sauce of the patatas bravas and it was lovely.

Nice shot of our mixed olives, we had a few different types of olives plus strips of red peppers, feta and mozzarella cheeses, marinated artichokes and sundried tomatoes. Nice cooling accompaniment to some of the hotter dishes.

My plate!

Overall we felt this deal was really good value for money and the food was of high quality. Much cheaper than a night at La Tasca as we always get carried away there and order far too much leading to an expensive night, even with a voucher. Much less risky and easier to eat at home and you can BYOB!