Friday, 22 April 2016

Butternut Squash, Ricotta and Sage Lasagne

I'm often surprised at the leaps the mind makes. Today, a fellow foodie translator was making cannelloni filled with ricotta and spinach and I thought: "I've never made ricotta and spinach anything". Unusually, we had ricotta in the fridge but neither spinach nor cannelloni. So on the shopping list they went for tomorrow's trip to the supermarket. But what was I going to cook tonight? How else could I use the ricotta with the scarce end-of-the-week vegetables left in the house? After rummaging throught the cupboard I found some no-cook lasagne sheets and the root veg basket revealed two small butternut squashes. There's sage in the garden. We always have lots of tins of chopped tomatoes. And I had dinner sorted. At least in theory. I still had to cook it. A recipe for the tomato sauce can be found here.

Update: It was WONDERFUL!!! Might be even nicer by adding a handful of toasted pine nuts to the ricotta mix for a bit of bite.

(serves 2)

1 small butternut squash
fresh sage leaves, approx. 1 tbsp when chopped
200 g ricotta
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of some liquid, e. g. vegetable stock, buttermilk, yoghurt or similar
chilli flakes, to taste
2 - 3 tomatoes
freshly grated parmesam
slow roasted tomato sauce as needed

1. First, make the tomato sauce and simmer it while you prepare the remainder of the dish. 

2. Chop the sage leaves and set aside.

3. Cut the tomatoes into slices and cover the bottom of an oven proof dish. Season with a little pepper and salt. Then place three lasagne sheets on top.

4. Cut the top and bottom of the butternut squash, cut in half lengthways and remove the seeds using a spoon. Slice into 4-5 mm thick slices. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the butternut squash for about 10 minutes over a medium heat turning them once or twice until some slices are browned. Remove from the pan, place onto kitchen paper and pat the oil off.

5. In the same pan, heat about a 1tsp of olive oil and fry the chopped sage for about 10 seconds, then return it to its dish to cool.

6. Spoon the ricotta into a food processor, season with black pepper, a touch of salt and chilli flakes. Add a bit more than half butternut squash, the sage and whatever liquid you're using and blitz. Check the seasoning.

7. Spread the ricotta mix onto the lasagne sheets, then place the remaining butternut squash slices on top before adding the next layer of lasagne sheets.

8. Finish off with plenty of tomato sauce. Then bake in the oven (covered with tin foil or uncovered depending on your oven) at 200 °C/gas mark 6 for 30 minutes.

9. Cover generously with freshly grated parmesan and bake at 220 °C/gas mark 7 for another 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Mascarpone Cream and Mixed Berry Compote

Mascarpone isn't something I normally have in the house unless I'm planning to make a tiramisu. When my other half brought a tub from the shops I wondered what else I could do with it and decided to make the tiramisu topping but serve it with a mixed berry compote. I substituted the rum that's normally used in tiramisu with homemade raspberry infused vodka.

(serves 4-6)

Berry compote:
3 handfuls of fresh or frozen mixed berries
2 tbsp unrefined soft brown sugar
Heat over a lowish heat until the fruit has soften and the sugar has desolved. Set aside to cool.

Mascarpone cream:
250 g mascarpone
2 large or 3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp unrefined soft brown sugar (or more, to taste)
1 pinch salt
30 ml (homemade) raspberry infused vodka (or rum), optional

1. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt into firm peaks. Set aside.

2.Beat the sugar and egg yolks until creamy. Add the mascarpone, vanilla paste and vodka (if used) and beat till combined. Check the sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.

3. Carefully fold in the the egg whites and place in the fridge to chill for a few hours.

4. Layer the berry compote and mascarpone cream in individual glasses.