Butternut and Kale Lasagne with Quinoa and Red Pepper Sugo
Are you ready for some wholesome comfort food? Who doesn't love a lasagne with layers of savoury and juicy baked flavours? Even though I love the Italian original pasta version, since I changed my style of eating these past few years, I have recreated this classic in a few variations to fit with my own style of eating and taste.
This alternative lasagne uses butternut slices instead of pasta sheets. It’s an incredibly tasty alternative to wheat pasta. There are several flavours making a beautiful unity here; the deep and earthy herbal kale with the umami-ish mushroom is balanced by sweet and peppery sugo. To make this dish a stand out healthy one-dish meal I added protein rich quinoa, making this lasagne not only delicious but wholesome and well rounded. You can vary this recipe by using another cooked grain (quinoa is not really grain of course), and you can use spinach instead of kale.
Before we get to the recipe I'd like to share some thoughts about my summer. If you want to get straight to the recipe, scroll all the way down.
This summer was intense and wonderful but also filled with hard work and little rest. I shopped for my ingredients in the morning, cooked and tested recipes midday, set up the styling, photographed in the late afternoon, cleaned up and ate with my family at dinner time (which was invaluable in terms of tasting and feedback). After dinner I would edit shots and fit them into the design, then I would adjust recipes and write intros. There was not much time left over for other stuff! And by midnight I saved my working files and closed my laptop, before turning in. My friends and family were all enjoying themselves, heading off to beach holidays and summer vacations. At the same time I was working on a dream project - my own cookbook, so I wanted to deliver my best. All voluntarily of course and with the huge pay off of feeling the satisfaction of a creative achievement. But oh boy, it was intense.
The creative process is not all fun; at times I wasn't the sweetest person to be around as I was super focused and totally absorbed by the project. My family had to endure me being all about the book. I spoke to other people who worked on their own books and were experiencing the same feelings. But I gained some personal insights in the process. I observed my own emotions in the different stages of the production - in the beginning, being super critical of my own ideas and seeing everything in a negative light being in a creative flow; buzzing with happiness and passion over the new recipes and shots. At the end of it, when I had sent most of the pages to my publisher and it was out of my hands, I felt an emptiness, a low, which I learned from listening to a podcast about creativity that it's commonly know as a "post creative depression". This sounds very dramatic but it isn't, it's not as dangerous as "real depression", but you have the same feels for a while. It's very common with artists and authors who work on a project intensively and it's certainly something that people in all walks of life experience when working passionately on one project with a deadline ahead. After two weeks, a very content feeling took over. Bliss. A genuine happiness. I realized then that I always felt like this when I worked but in micro doses; and that every project has its cycles of emotions attached. The frustrated beginning where you feel neurotic about pinning down good ideas. The hard focus while executing those ideas, and the joys when you accomplish what you want and the emptiness when it's over. And finally the peaceful realization of being done and happy with the result, after all that work!
So fast forward and it's the beginning of the autumn. And on the top of my list is enjoying time with family and friends, cooking just for the fun of it, chilling out and following spontaneous ideas. But I will keep working with my clients and I will post more often and regularly again on the blog!
I amassed so many new recipe ideas this summer that couldn't all be fitted into the book, so expect many new rad ideas and healthy tasty food on the blog this autumn. If you want to keep up with every new post sign up to the newsletter in the side bar. I'm sending the first one out with this post.
This post is made in collaboration with Falcon Enamelware, you've probably noticed that I use their products in my styling often. I use their cups and my darling red tea pot for both photography and RL enjoyment :) I love the functional vintage look they ooze!
Here, I'm using the pie set from their new collection with a black rim. The set comes with four perfectly single portioned pie forms and larger form. Visit Falcon Enamelware here.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND KALE LASAGNE
(WITH QUINOA AND RED PEPPER SUGO)
This vegetarian lasagne is gluten free, low calorie and can be made vegan by omitting or substituting the feta cheese for vegan cheese.
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and sliced in 2-3 mm thick slices
a bunch of kale, sturdy stalks removed, finely chopped (save a few tips for decoration)
200g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
150g feta cheese, crumbled
olive oil 2 red onions, finely chopped (save a few thinly sliced rounds for decoration)
400g best quality tomatoes, finely chopped (use fresh or a jar)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200g roasted red peppers strips (you can use fresh red pepper too)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, crushed to paste
1 teaspoon honey (vegans can use agave syrup) salt and pepper to taste
Cook the quinoa according to instructions, drain and set aside. Heat up a frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Fry the onions on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, until transparent. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, red pepper, garlic, honey and spices. Let it simmer on low heat for a few minutes. Remove the sauce and blend until smooth in a food processor.
Place the oven forms in front of you. Layer the lasagne with the butternut slices as lasagne sheets, adding handfuls of chopped kale and a layer of mushrooms on top. Add a layer of quinoa. Top with the red pepper sugo and repeat with another layer of butternut, kale, mushrooms, quinoa and sugo. For the third and final butternut layer, top with the sugo and crumbled feta cheese. Decorate with red onion rings, thyme and kale tips.
Bake the lasagne in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes on 200°C. Keep an eye on the lasagne during the last 20 minutes to make sure there’s no burning.
Serve with a fresh salad. Bon appetit!