This is by far my favorite lasagna recipe.  It has an amazing white sauce mixed in with the meat sauce that just puts it over the top.  The butternut squash also adds a refreshing change to this classic dish.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

4 slices of thick bacon

• a pinch of cinnamon
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of fresh herbs (sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
• olive oil
• 1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
• 2 14oz cans of good-quality plum tomatoes
• 2 glasses of red wine or water
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon cilantro seeds, bashed
• 1 dried red chili, bashed
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 14oz fresh lasagne sheets *
• 14oz mozzarella, torn up

for the white sauce
• 1 pint crème fraîche
• 3 anchovies, finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
optional: a little milk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large casserole-type pan slowly fry the pancetta and cinnamon until golden, then add the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix together, then add the beef and pork. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the canned tomatoes and the wine or water. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Then get some greaseproof paper, wet it and place it on top of the pan with a lid placed on top as well. Then place in the preheated oven for 2 hours or simmer on the hob over a gentle heat for around an hour and a half. Rub your butternut squash slices with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the bashed-up cilantro seeds and chili. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking the sauce. When the sauce is done, season to taste and put to one side. Mix together your crème fraîche, anchovies, and a handful of Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. You may need to loosen the mixture with a little milk.

Turn the oven to 400ºF. To assemble the lasagne, rub an earthenware lasagne dish with olive oil, lay some sheets of lasagne over the bottom and drape them over the sides. Add a layer of meat, a little white sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Break the butternut squash into pieces and use this as one layer, then repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of pasta covered in white sauce. Tear over the mozzarella and sprinkle with some extra Parmesan. Cook in the preheated oven for 30–35 minutes, or until golden.

*Note: Jamie uses fresh pasta, and while I think that is wonderful, I usually make this with your run-of-the-mill boxed pasta sheets.  If you make it the night before, you don’t even have to boil the pasta…just let it sit in the pan with all the other layered goodies and they will soften naturally.

This is one of my hands-down all time favorite comfort foods.  It’s a stick to your ribs kind of meal.  The savory flavors of the leeks and mushrooms provide the perfect background for the hearty, spicy sausage; all lightened by the zing of the white wine garlic sauce.  It’s often something that I serve for company, as everyone seems to like it and it’s an easy make-ahead meal (the stew portion can be made the night before and topped with the pastry the day off).  You haven’t had pot-pie, until you’ve had pot-pie like this.  It’s a MUST try.

Olive Oil
2 T. Butter
1 1/2 lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into small pieces
9 oz. Hot Italian Sausage
2 Med. size Leeks, cleaned and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
5-6 Mushrooms, chopped
2 Celery Ribs, chopped
4 T. Flour
1 wineglass of White Wine
1 1/4 C. Milk
salt/pepper
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 lb Puff Pastry Dough
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 425F.  Take a large pot and add a lug of olive oil and your butter.  Add the chicken, sausage, leeks, carrots, celery, and thyme and cook slowly on the stove for 15 min.  Turn the heat up and add the flour, stirring for a couple of minutes before adding the wine, a half-wineglass of water, and the milk.  Season with a little salt and pepper and garlic.  Then cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 30-40 min.  Stir it every so often to make sure it doesn’t stick on the bottom.  The sauce should be loose, but very thick.  If it’s too thin, simmer with the lid off for a few minutes to thicken.

Pour the mixture into a deep pie dish or small casserole dish.  Roll out your pastry to be 1/4 in. thick.  Take the egg and beat it with a fork.  Brush the rim of the dish with the egg and drape the pastry over.  Egg wash the top of the pastry and score the pastry back and forth with a knife (criss-cross).  Cook in the center of the oven for about 30-40 min, or until golden and bubbly.

So I still have leeks popping out of my yard, and I’ve got to say that I’m pretty excited about it.  Having never experienced their amazing flavor before a couple of years ago, I have loved every minute of cultivating, harvesting, and consuming these beauties.  This side-dish from Jamie Oliver was no exception.  Served with steak or sausage (as seen here), this makes a nice alternative to the mashed potatoes so often paired with heartier meats.

4 leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
a small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
olive oil
a knob of butter
a wineglass of white wine
500g/1lb 2oz good-quality tinned or jarred butter beans, drained and rinsed
a small handful of freshly picked parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
good-quality peppery extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sweat the leeks, thyme and garlic with a splash of olive oil and the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on a low heat for 20 minutes until they are soft and sweet. Turn up the heat and add the white wine. Let the wine come to the boil, then add the beans and a splash of water, so that the beans are almost covered. Allow to simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes until the beans are lovely and creamy (mash a little with the back of your spoon if needed). Add the parsley, crème fraîche and a good glug of the extra virgin olive oil and taste for seasoning.

That’s right—-I’m feeling rather uncreative today when it comes to naming (or in this case re-naming) dishes.  This was originally a Jamie Oliver dish called Chicken Goujons with Noodles (click here for previous post).  Last night, since I wasn’t in the mood for chicken, and there happened to be a great sale on raw shrimp, I thought “hmm…that could be good…”

…and it was.  It was really good.  It was good enough for me to re-think wanting to use chicken in this dish again at all.  It’s funny how a simple change can make such a difference.

So, to recap:
1. Follow link to old recipe
2. Switch out chicken for shrimp
3. Follow recipe
4. Enjoy some really good food

In my effort to get back to exploring the culinary horizons, I wanted to venture off and try something new.  As I flipped through some of my cookbooks, this was calling out to me from the page.  Having never heard of pangrattato before, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was supposed be.  What it was?  A really flavorful crunchy topping that I’d be happy to put on anything from pasta to chicken.  Thank you Jamie Oliver!

5 lg. Leeks
Olive Oil
3 tabs Butter
3 cloves Garlic, peeled
tsp. Fresh Thyme, chopped
1/2 c. White Wine
Salt/Pepper
1 pt. Chicken Stock
12 slices Parma Ham (or Pancetta)
1 lb. flat noodle Pasta (like Linguine)
2 handfuls grated Parmesan Cheese

For the Pangrattato
handful dried Porcini Mushrooms
1/2 stale Ciabatta Bread
Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic
1 sprig Rosemary, leaves pulled off and chopped

Halve the leeks lengthwise and chop into 1/2 inch slices.  Heat a wide saucepan, add a splash of oil and a tab of butter and when you hear a gentle sizzle add the garlic (sliced), thyme and leeks. Make sure everything is coated in the pan by stirring it around.  Pour in the wine, season with pepper and stir in the stock.  Cover the leeks with the ham slices and place a lid on the pan.  Cook over med-low for 25 min.  Once the leeks are tender, take the pan off the heat.

In the meantime, to make the pangrattato, wiz the mushrooms and bread with a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.  Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a frying pan.  Add the garlic and the rosemary and cook for a minute, then fry the bread crumbs in the oil until golden and crisp.  Keep shaking the pan–don’t let the bread crumbs catch on the bottom.  Drain on paper towels.

Bring a big pan of salted water to a boil.  Boil noodles, following the directions on the package.

Remove the ham from the leek pan and slice it up.  Stir back in with the leeks.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the cheese and the rest of the butter.  Drain the pasta, using a little of the pasta water to thin the leek sauce if needed.  Serve quickly, sprinkling the pangrattato and any leftover thyme over the top.  Enjoy.

From Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home

So this is what pregnancy leads to?!?!  I was looking at a picture of my niece yesterday eating macaroni and cheese and felt a crazy pang of jealousy as she was devouring the cheesy concoction.  I’m pretty sure if she had been in the same room at the time I would have shamelessly snatched some off her plate.  Thankfully she wasn’t, and I was able to hold on to a small amount of self respect.  Nevertheless, when dinner rolled around I couldn’t think of anything else.  Pulling out some pantry staples, I was able to make some bowties and cheese that put my niece’s Kraft Mac to shame.  Pregnant or not, I’m sure you’ll love this.

1lb 2oz good-quality macaroni (or in my case, bowties)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a knob of butter
a small bunch of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
3½oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for grating
3½oz fontina or taleggio cheese, roughly torn
3½oz mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
¼ of a nutmeg
a small ball of buffalo mozzarella cheese  (I used 3 sticks of string cheese…I was desperate)

I also added: a pinch of cayenne, 2 cloves chopped garlic, and panko breadcrumbs on the very top for a nice crunch.

Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Cook the macaroni in a pan of salted boiling water 2 minutes short of the timing on the packet instructions, then drain in a colander and reserve a little of the cooking water. Heat the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan. When it starts to foam, add the marjoram or oregano and fry for a minute until it starts to crisp up, then turn off the heat. Add your cooked pasta to the marjoram or oregano butter, along with a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water and the Parmesan, fontina or taleggio and mascarpone. Return to a medium heat and toss and stir around until most of the cheese has melted and you have a lovely gooey sauce – you may need to add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Season to taste, then tip it all into an earthenware dish. Grate over the nutmeg, tear over the mozzarella and sprinkle over the extra Parmesan. Bake the macaroni cheese in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, finishing up with a quick whack under the grill, until golden brown and crispy on top.

From Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver.

Sausage Tomato Bake copy

YUMMMM!  This was so easy and super hearty—-a must try!

Jamie Oliver Style:

4 lb ripe cherry-sized tomatoes, mixed colors if possible
1-2lb Pork Sausage
2 sprigs each: Rosemary, Oregano (or 1 tsp. dried), Thyme
4 Cloves Garlic, pealed and chopped
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F.  In a cast iron skillet, place the tomatoes on the bottom of the pan (they should fit tightly).  Add garlic, herbs, red pepper and drizzle with olive oil and a few glugs of vinegar.  Place the sausage on top of the tomato mixture.  Place in the oven and bake for 30 min.  Turn sausage over and bake another 25-30 min, until browned.  Remove from the oven and place the sausage aside on a plate.  Over your stove on med-high heat, cook down the tomato broth until fairly thick, slightly mashing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon (about 3-5 min).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the sausage over the tomato sauce.  Enjoy.