Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lazy Lunchtime

Late Fall is one of my favorite times of year.  It is when you start to see and hear from friends you don't see very often throughout the year.  The air gets colder.  Sweater weather is in full force.  Food becomes all about comfort (when is it not?) and just like old friends, cookies, pastries, and spiked beverages abound!  My problem is that I start to not eat as healthily as I do the rest of the year.  I get lazy in my mealtime routine because I bake more, snack on what I bake, and celebrate the season more than I should.

Yesterday, I decided to make a concerted effort to be more mindful of my meal choices and portions of said meal.  I also am slightly overwhelmed by the bounty of different squashes and greens that have been arriving in my CSA box the last few weeks.  I looked at the Butternut Squash on my counter and the collard greens in my produce drawer and decided to make individual lasagnas!

This idea will work with a plethora of different food combinations.  One of the tricks I use, is to cook the ingredients ahead of time so when I add them together and bake them with the noodles and cheese, I am not having figure out how I am getting greens to cook at the same time and temperature as squash.

I bought fresh pasta sheets at the grocery store. These are really convenient because you can cut them to be whatever width or shape you like.  I used a 3" biscuit cutter and cut out circles - 5 circles per individual muffin tin.  I used a Jumbo muffin tin - they measure about 3.5" diameter.  You can use the regular size but for lunch size portions the Jumbo ones are just right.

I seeded the squash and then cut it in quarters and lightly oiled, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 40 - 45 minutes.  Cutting it in quarters speeds up the cooking time. While the squash is roasting, I washed the collard greens in my Tovolo Soak & Strain.  I then laid out the leaves on top of one another about 5 high, cut the stems off,  rolled them longways, and cut them about 1/2" thick. The technique is called chiffonade and not only does it make quick work of chopping greens and herbs, it makes beautiful ribbons of them.  I heated a pan with about 2 T of olive oil over medium heat and sauteed the greens with salt & pepper.  After about 4 or 5 minutes add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover for another 5 minutes. This steams the collards the rest of the way and helps to make the leaves more tender.

Now for assembly for 6 individual cups:
6 oz, of Ricotta cheese - I use part skim
4 oz. Basil pesto - I bought some at the store - I know, shameful!
1 egg
Mix the ricotta, pesto, and egg together in a bowl.

4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 winter squash, delicata, butternut, butterkin, cooked as above then diced 
1 bunch collard greens, cooked as above then diced

First lightly oil each cup with a little olive oil.  Then take one pasta circle and place it in the bottom of each cup.  You want the pasta circle to come up on the side a little, this helps hold it all together.  Add a dollop of the ricotta mixture onto the pasta circle and smush it down a little so it covers the circle.  Add a teaspoon of the collard greens.  Layer another pasta circle and a generous pinch of mozzarella followed by a few squash pieces.  Add another pasta circle and repeat. After the second layer of squash press the 5th pasta circle down lightly, add a little more ricotta mixture and a pinch of mozzarella - this will be the top.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the top gets bubbly.

Let them cool and then place them into a freezer bag in a single layer so that they don't stick together while they freeze and pop them into your freezer.  When you need a quick dinner, lunch for work, or even a great little side dish they are ready and waiting for you!  I heat mine in the microwave and they come out really well.  

You can use red sauce, ground meat, caprese style - you are only limited by your creativity!  

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