Butternut Squash, Kale, and Wild Rice Gratin

Oh kale. You poor thing. First, you were a modest dietary staple. Then people kind of forgot about you because food scientists started inventing magical food like cheese puffs. But wait! You rose from obscurity to become obscenely trendy. Of course, your hipsterific popularity made it inevitable that you would eventually become a punchline.

(Exhibit A: What vegetable do only rich people eat? Upskale.)

Now that we got that history lesson out of the way, here’s yet another kale recipe. I know. Bear with me. The problem is that I get kale delivered practically every week nowadays, so I have to come up with interesting ways to eat it. Being a native midwesterner, I turned my latest bunch of kale into a hotdish, minus the tater tots and tuna-noodles.

First I cooked the kale with onions, garlic, and butternut squash until the veggies were soft. Then I tossed in some cooked wild rice and stirred in a creamy homemade cheese sauce, using gruyere and comté because I’m fancy like that. I also had parsley from my CSA box so I added that to the breadcrumb topping. As it emerged from the oven, the final dish was a cheesy, nutty, indulgent yet vegetable-packed meal that let me conquer one more week’s worth of kale. Victory was mine! Until next time.

Butternut squash, kale, and wild rice gratin

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Butternut Squash, Kale, and Wild Rice Gratin

  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. bunch of curly kale, stemmed and roughly chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup freshly shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded comté cheese
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2-3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 400° F. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.

Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, squash, garlic, and kale, and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the wild rice.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a 2-quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir for about 1-2 minutes, until it’s a light golden color and forms a thick paste. Slowly whisk in milk and keep stirring until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and whisk in gruyere and comté until melted. Stir in 3/4 tsp. kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Pour the cheese sauce over the vegetable/rice mixture and stir until evenly coated. Taste the mixture and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Transfer mixture to the prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil, panko, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly sprinkle mixture over the casserole. (You might not need all the topping.)

Bake at 400° F for 20-25 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and the top is golden brown.

Source: A Lingonberry Jam original, inspired by The Well-Cooked Life and Smitten Kitchen.

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Skillet Lasagna

One of the most freeing things about my evolution as a “food person” has been learning my likes and dislikes and adapting recipes accordingly. Sounds simple, right? But when I was first learning how to cook, I felt chained to a recipe. I assumed every dish was quadruple tested, its methods and ingredients absolute truth.

And then I met my college roommate, who insisted that you could cut the amount of sugar in every cookie recipe by half, or even substitute honey. (Heresy!) And then I met Gabriel, who alarmed me with his way of just throwing in salt and pepper as he tasted a dish, rather than measuring it out by the teaspoon.

Guess what? The food cooked up by those recipe-challengers was delicious! As I became more comfortable with my own cooking skills, I emulated Alex and Gabe and learned to approach recipes as starting points, not rigid contracts. And so it was with a big freaking smile on my face that I finally dumped out the jar of dried cilantro in my spice drawer a couple weeks ago. Because it turns out I don’t like cilantro.

I also can’t stand fennel seed, which is unfortunate, because the sausage I chose for this otherwise amazingly delicious recipe was rife with it. But now that I’m 100% sure of my distaste, I’ll be sure to choose the fennel-less sausage next time. Because I can.

Skillet lasagna

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Skillet Lasagna

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 8 oz. dried pasta (I chose pasta that looked like broken-up lasagna pieces)
  • 42.5 oz. canned, crushed tomatoes (I used one 28-oz can and one 14.5-oz can)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in  crushed red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Add sausage to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until broken into pieces and no longer pink (3-5 minutes).

Stir in pasta and tomatoes. Cover and continue to cook on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Be sure to stir fairly frequently, otherwise the pasta will stick to the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. When pasta is done, remove skillet from heat and stir in half the parmesan and ricotta. Adjust seasoning to taste. Sprinkle the pasta with the remaining parmesan and chunks of mozzarella, and dot with the remaining ricotta.

Place skillet under broiler and cook until the cheese starts to bubble and brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh basil, and serve.

Source: Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Pasta Revolution via Pink Parsley

Spinach, Pea, and Pesto Quiche

I love a good pair of jeans and I’ll always stop to try on a cute sundress, but when it comes to shopping, kitchen stores are my kryptonite. Walls lined with cooking accessories, shelves full of glassware, sigh… I’ll just stop and have a look.

A couple weeks ago I bought a 9-inch tart pan. I already (somewhat ridiculously) owned six mini tart pans but not a standard-size dish. When I got home, I really wanted to play with my new toy. So I whipped up a simple dinner with ingredients already on hand: spinach, pea, and pesto quiche. My new pan performed marvelously, but you won’t see it here. The beauty of a tart pan is found not in the fluted steel or drop-out bottom; it’s what the pan leaves behind. In this case, a savory, rich, feel-good meal.

Spinach, Pea, and Pesto Quiche | Lingonberry Jam

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Spinach, Pea, and Pesto Quiche

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups flour, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 10 Tbs. (5 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into chunks
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 Tbs. ice water

Filling

  • 4 oz. neufchatel or cream cheese
  • 2 Tbs. basil pesto
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 Tbs. minced dried onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk

Make pie crust: Preheat oven to 425° F. Stir together salt and flour. Using a food processor or pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until coarse (pieces of butter should be about the size of small peas). Mix in egg yolk, and then slowly add water until dough holds together. If it gets too wet, add more flour. Chill dough in freezer for 10 minutes.

Roll out crust on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a 9-inch tart pan. Trim off excess dough with a knife. Poke the dough lightly with a fork to reduce bubbling. Chill again in freezer for 30 minutes. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the dough just starts to turn brown. Remove from oven and let cool on rack.

Make filling: Reduce oven temperature to 325° F. Whip cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in pesto.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and add spinach. Stir constantly for about 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted. Stir in peas and onions and cook for another minute. Add spinach mixture to cream cheese. Stir in cheddar and parmesan and add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in eggs and milk until smooth. Pour quiche mixture into cooled crust. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until set. (Center should just barely wiggle.) Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Crust from Mark Bittman.

Nutrition facts (per 1/8 of quiche): 375 calories, 28.3 g fat, 20.0 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 10.6 g protein.

Turkey Lasagna

Hello friends! Sorry it’s been awhile. I have time for a quick update, and then it’s back to work. (One more paper to write; the end is in sight!)

The end-of-the-semester frenzy has wreaked havoc on our usual schedules. While I pride myself on my housekeeping abilities, dishes have a tendency to pile up in the kitchen sink when Gabe and I are busy studying. And since I hate messes, I’ve started to avoid the kitchen like the plague.

So aside from Gabe’s birthday dinner on Monday night, not much cooking has been happening around here lately. I did make turkey lasagna last weekend so we could eat leftovers all week long. (It takes two people a surprising amount of time to eat this much lasagna.) I adore this recipe. The goat cheese gives it a bit of a tang, and anything with a pound of fresh mozzarella is destined to be delicious.

Okie dokie, it’s back to paper-writing for me. Two more days until my library books (and therefore my paper) are due!

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Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

It rained on Sunday. And Monday. But I wasn’t complaining. Instead of taunting me with sunshine, the weather forced me to stay indoors and draft papers. The drops hitting the window echoed the tap-tap-tap of my keyboard, soothing my frenzied soul.

The rain also gave me the opportunity to cook some chilly weather comfort food, like this casserole (that’s hot dish, for all you Minnesotans). Luckily I had all the fixings in the freezer already, making this dish a snap to prepare.

Plus, now we have leftovers, a gift for the rest of this busy week!

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Baked Spinach Mac ‘n’ Cheese

As I ran across campus today– trying to protect roughly 1700 pages of precious library books from the freezing rain– all I could think about was a hot plate of comfort food. It was the perfect day for some homemade mac ‘n’ cheese.

But by the time I got home, neither Gabe nor I felt like cooking, so we ordered Indian food for supper instead. (Ah, the joys of city living!)

I still thought I’d share this recipe with you; I came up with it a couple weeks ago and we found it pretty tasty. This version of mac ‘n’ cheese is much healthier than the original. I discovered that using more flavorful cheese (such as an Italian blend) means that a little goes a long way. So instead of the whopping 16 oz. of cheese that some recipes use, this one only calls for 4 oz. And it still tastes cheesy, I promise.

Up close and personal

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Light Chicken Potpie

Because it’s January, everyone seems to be looking for healthy recipes. This means comfort foods like mac ‘n’ cheese, au gratin potatoes, and chicken potpie are off the table, right?

Wrong. This recipe for chicken potpie has all the flavor of the original with way less butter and no cream. It makes enough for eight, so we’re planning on eating it for the next few nights while Gabe introduces me to the Star Wars movies.

Here’s to healthy eating in the new year! May the force be with you.

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