I mentioned my new “lasagna” in my Agriculture Day post last week. Now it’s time to stop teasing and show you the full product.
It all started with a squash I toted home from the farmer’s market the day before. You should choose a matte, not shiny, finish which will tell you it was picked when ripe. An intact stem will also help you tell if the vegetable has lost moisture in storage, especially now that we’re at the end of the season. Finally, it should be heavy for its size and solid when you knock on it.
|Overlap thin slices of squash on the top layer to fill any gaps|
I discovered just how firm the flesh of butternut squash can be at Thanksgiving when my sister’s dull vegetable peeler made it impossible to get thin, even strips of the flesh. The resulting Butternut Squash and Creamed Spinach Gratin wasn’t pretty, but the recipe inspired me to do better. This time I used my own super-sharp peeler through the length of each quarter. That was still very difficult and time consuming, so when I made enough even slices for the top layer, I switched to a chefs knife to make the last cuts. It’s no wonder the squash is only cut in half before roasting so often!
The rest of the recipe development was just guess work. I removed the Italian style pork sausage from its casing and sauteed it to cook through. I didn’t want both pork fat and heavy cream, so I mixed chicken broth with 0% fat Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme to simulate the sauce. Then I stirred in thawed, drained frozen spinach before layering with squash, sausage, and Parmesan in a casserole dish. Bake covered with parchment or foil for 40 minutes before finishing uncovered for 15 minutes.
|The sauce was a bit runny when it first came out of the oven, but that added moisture helped it to last well as leftovers.|
It was a healthy and elegant one-dish meal, suitable for a simple weeknight or a real occasion. And the full flavor of the dish lasted a few days as leftovers. I’ll have to keep experimenting to find the lightest way to make the sauce, but cheers to another dish that uses a nutrient dense pantry vegetable in place of boring old pasta!