This month’s issue of Cooking Light is killing it. Granted, it could be the preggo hormones talking, but I dog-eared almost every single page in the magazine when I got it.
Not that you asked, but here are my general thoughts on Cooking Light:
CL to me = what I imagine Pinterest is to other people. (Pinterest is far too complicated for me to ever figure out.) Take the recipe and then add your imagination (and more butter). Also, I will never use anything but full fat ricotta. So, of course this “lightened” vegetarian lasagna is really just vegetarian lasagna. Still, way to go, CL.
Butternut Squash & Chard Lasagna
3- 4 cups cubed + peeled butternut squash
approx 1 cup veggie broth
1 cup milk
5 garlic cloves
dash nutmeg (really, small dash – I find nutmeg overwhelming)
1 cup shredded Gruyere/Swiss
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 onion, chopped
2 boxes mushrooms, sliced
1 big bunch Swiss chard or other leafy green
half box no boil lasagna noodles
a little less than a cup ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and then simmer until squash is tender (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat.
Place squash mixture in a blender OR – use your immersion blender!! Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg and blend until smooth. Add the Gruyere and about half the mozzarella to the mixture; stir until it melts all the way in.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook about 5-7 minutes or until browned and liquid evaporates. Add chard and a splash of broth. Cover and cook until chard wilts. Drain the mixture – you want all that excess moisture out of there.
Spread about a cup of the squash sauce in bottom of a glass/baking dish, arrange noodles over the sauce, and top with half of the the chard/mushrooms. Dollop and spread a bit of ricotta all across. Then, repeat the process – squash sauce, noodles, chard mixture. Then, more squash, and finally, mozzarella cheese (and parm, if you feel like it).
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes – and then turn the heat up and broil the whole thing for the last 3 minutes. Serve topped with parsley..and a side salad to cut all that cheese!
This is a cheese-fest. Which obviously means it’s an A+ in my book. Bonus: it makes servings for dayyyyyyys.
Tonight, despite the leftovers begging to be released from their (glass, because when my mom found out about BPA, you can guess what was under the Christmas tree) Tupperware containers, I decided to forge ahead with a plan for lentil soup. It’s freezing and windy and tomorrow it might even snow here (let’s keep our fingers crossed!!).
You may recall lentil soup with Swiss chard is a staple around here…but I recently bought some garam masala and why not? Enter Bon Appetit’s plan to integrate curry and garbanzo beans + a few small tweaks, because I just can’t help myself, especially around garlic.
Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Chickpeas
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 teaspoons curry powder
small handful cayenne
dash of crushed red pepper
pinch garam marsala (optional)
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
4 cups veggie broth, plus or minus (depending on if you like lentil soup vs. stand-alone lentils)
1 cup red lentils (what is Bon Appetit thinking, calling for a pound!?)
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice from 1/2 lime
salt and sugar – in case the curry comes out a little bitter, more on this later
optional/for topping: plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, cooked brown rice, avocado
If serving with rice (in the Husband’s view, you can’t over-carb), get your water boiling – the rice will take about the same time as the soup, if you get it going first (especially if using jasmine rice). Cook rice according to directions and keep warm.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Cook the onions down, until translucent, over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute; add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, crushed reds, and garam masala. Mix well and then add broth and Swiss chard; bring to a boil.
Add the lentils and reduce the heat. Split lentils will take significantly less time to cook than non-split ones; if working with split lentils, add the chickpeas now. If not, let the lentils cook down a bit before adding the chickpeas. Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 10 to 20 minutes.
Taste your soup & adjust accordingly. Mine was quite bitter and a bit heavy on the seasonings. To counteract this, I added (very small & equal) amounts of salt and sugar and stirred until dissolved, until I was able to bring the bite down a bit.
Before serving, add the lime juice and stir. Serve with brown rice, topped with a bit of plain Greek yogurt and cilantro. TIP: Mixing the yogurt all the way through will also serve to counteract any lingering bitterness and really bring all of the flavors together, though obviously, this won’t work for the lactose-intolerant.
Around step 4, I got really worried. In the Husband’s words, it tasted “not bad…like water, with seasonings.” However, I’m starting to trust myself a bit more, and rather than resign myself to bad soup (which I have definitely foisted upon the Husband before – cue the burned-pumpkin-soup story from our days of pre-dating, which he ate up with a big, if forced, smile.), I actually fixed it, with salt, sugar, and a bit more time stewing. This turned out deliciously – warm, tasty, and filling (another) happy Tupperware container to bring for lunch. Topped with avocado, next time!
My kitchen must be missing an elf. At least, that’s who I think is probably in charge of making food look the way it does in magazines (or even in food blogs).
Still, tonight’s effort was even further from Cooking Light‘s gorgeous picture than normal, even for me. True, I didn’t follow the recipe to a T. True, I may have used slightly more olive oil than called for. But the dough in the following recipe really just never came together in the way that I could fold it over without it falling apart on me.
No matter, I made pizza instead. And it was still delicious.
Swiss Chard, Potato and Goat Cheese Pizza (depending on your magical elf situation)
1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more
1/4 cup water
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 red onion, sliced
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced potato (this takes about 2/3 of 1 potato; make baked french fries with the rest!)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (less if you’re using dried)
1 teaspoon water
1 egg white
2 oz goat cheese
Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and baking powder in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Mix olive oil and water together in a small bowl; with the processor on, pour the mixture slowly through the chute. Process until the dough is crumbly and then knead on a floured surface to form a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Remove stems from the chard leaves and chop. Chop leaves as well. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the olive oil, chard steams and onion to pan. Saute for two minutes. Add the chard leaves, saute an additional 2 minutes before adding a pinch of salt, the potato, and thyme. Cook for a few minutes and then remove from heat and cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap the dough and roll out into a circle on a floured surface (this is where my dough fell apart; I decided to do this directly on parchment paper so I could move it without crumbling it).
Put the dough on parchment paper and place on a baking pan. Spread the chard mixture evenly across the dough surface.
If you’ve followed the recipe more closely than I did and your dough is feeling cooperative, you should leave a two inch border between the end of the dough and the chard; fold these edges over toward the center, pressing gently to seal. It won’t cover the whole mixture, just part of it. Combine 1 teaspoon water with the egg white and brush over the edges.
If you’re like me, you’ll just spread the mixture as best you can and make your tart a pizza (with an admittedly olive oil-tasting crust). You can brush the edges with the egg white and water mixture, just to be fancy.
Sprinkle goat cheese and pepper over the chard mixture. Bake for 40 minutes.
Despite what the compare and contrast pictures above suggest, this was still a good recipe. You can taste the olive oil in the crust, which has a bit of a shortbread-like texture (it actually reminded me a lot of an earlier Martha Stewart recipe for spinach pie). The chard, onions, and potato all mix terrifically with the goat cheese. It does take a while to make – almost two hours, start to finish (this includes the dough chilling time). So, probably not a go-to in our kitchen. But I think this is one to try again, perhaps with a some different fillings.
Before my parents moved out of our childhood home a year or so ago, my mom spent about a year prior to that downsizing all of our (material) things, including her collection of cookbooks. Which means somehow I ended up with the 1998 Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. And I’ve actually cooked out of it…which leads us to tonight’s meal.
Spoiler alert: this (adapted) recipe is a go-to in our house. I make it when I’m feeling run down, tired or feel like I really just need a big bowl of nutrition. (Yes, that is a feeling). I’ve made it with all different types of broth and greens; I think the combination of Swiss chard and beef broth is the best.
Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beef broth (veggie, mushroom, chicken, beef, even mixed with water – whatever you have.)
1 cup dried lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 big bunch Swiss chard, leaves shredded (I like the red Swiss chard best, though we’ve also used mustard greens, collard greens, kale and even spinach. The only big miss was the mustard greens.)
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper
juice from 1 or two lemons
Optional: cilantro, parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and then add onions. Cook for about 4-5 minutes; add garlic. Keep stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn, and then add broth and lentils. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are cooked through (about 35 minutes).
Add the Swiss chard, cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper. Cook until chard wilts, above 5-6 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Eyeball the broth – make sure there’s enough in there to meet your needs!
Serve with cilantro and – if you’re feeling decadent – parmesan cheese.
I made tonight’s version with a combination of chicken and mushroom broth, which didn’t quite pack the same punch as beef broth. But it was delicious, all the same, and makes plenty of leftovers (again, if you’re feeding only two people). And it would have been super healthy, too, had the Husband not had his with a side of…mini frozen pizzas. You win some, you lose some. At least we got that bowl of nutrition.