Sunday, 21 February 2016

Turn On the Light!

Lasagna Leggera con la Zucca, Pomodorini & Ricotta Salata
Healthy Lasagna with Butternut Squash, Cherry Tomatoes & Salted Ricotta

Lasagna- so delicious... but so time-consuming and... fattening! Well- errr, yes- that is why it is usually only made for special occasions in Italy. Made with lovely, rich béchamel sauce, ground meat and tomato sauce... But does it always have to be that way? of course NOT!

The truth of the matter is that those sheets of pasta can be prepared in absolutely any way you want... obviously! Why always only presume to do the same thing with them? When you can do something like this- much quicker, easier, lighter... and yet so delicious that it will make any time you enjoy it into as equally special an occasion as the classic!

No- the motivation behind making this dish was not to "make it meatless" or to make it into a "light version" at all... it was simply to experiment with those sheets of pasta, to use other ingredients and to make a delicious meal. Plain and simple! That this other things all happened was pure coincidence.

Good, eh?

Of course, living alone, it did not take much to prepare this- but the math is simple to scale-up and anyway- again, this is one of those recipes where the method is more important than the quantities. But nevertheless- for 2 portions you will need: 4 sheets of lasagna, 1 small onion, 6-7 cherry tomatoes, fresh rosemary and parsley, about 1 coffee mugful of grated butternut squash (or similar), salt, pepper, tomato purée, milk, nutmeg, salted ricotta for grating and a little olive oil.

Take those simple ingredients, add a little time and effort- and you will be rewarded with a gorgeous lasagna like this which is totally different and yet wonderfully reminiscent of the classic dish... and like I said- it will make suppertime into a special occasion all the same!

Begin by sweating the finely chopped onion with plenty of rosemary until it becomes translucent. Whilst that is happening, grate the butternut squash nice and finely- about 1 mugful will do for 2 portions.

Add the squash and stir-fry it until it has completely changed color, then add enough milk to cover it completely and season with a good pinch of salt and plenty of pepper and nutmeg. Reduce to a simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes- and turn on your oven about now as it won't be long before you are ready to rumble!

Add about 1 tablespoon of tomato purée and plenty of finely chopped parsley and stir them in- add a little more milk if necessary and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes... then you're done!

Build up the lasagna in layers- first sauce, then pasta, then sauce, then a few of the very thinly sliced cherry tomatoes. Add a little pepper...

Cover with foil and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes, then finish off without the foil until golden brown on top.

I am pretty confident that you are going to like it- and who knows what other way i will dream-up to prepare my next lasagna! The only limits you have in the kitchen are those of your imagination!

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