Thursday, January 02, 2014

One Last Hoorah

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I like deadlines and lists and inspiration boards as much as the next gal, but I just can't see the point of making promises I can't keep. "This year I'll join a gym and work out three days a week!" Um... no, I won't. Instead of resolutions I have a running list of goals that are perpetual, and I add and adjust when I need to. I have personal goals, business goals, goals for my relationship and my kiddo, but none of them start January first. (Thankfully, because it's the 2nd, so I would have failed already.)

What I am starting right now is a modified version of the Bon Appetit Food Lovers' Cleanse, a way to kick up some inspiration in my kitchen and up my energy all at once. After the holidays I tend to drag my ass around the house, grazing on leftover gingerbread and refusing to put away decorations because I feel too lazy and would rather nap. Not this year. I scrubbed the stove and fridge this morning and dumped all of the gross shit I found in there (Yellow mustard from Kroger? That was three moves ago.). Then I printed off my shopping list and hit the market. There are a lot of complaints about the expense of this list on BA's Facebook page, but let's get real. If you have a well stocked pantry and a bit of brains, you can make this work. I did all of my shopping for week one and spent $98. That's less than I usually spend on a week's worth of food, y'all. I had most of the pantry items already (see all that stuff I crossed out?), did a bit of swapping on ingredients, and I'm good to go.

However, I have one last ridiculously indulgent thing to share with you all before I go all quinoa, kale, and hemp seeds on you. Remember that cooking demo I did in November? I promised to share the amazing pumpkin lasagna made by Sara that night, and I finally got around to taking photos of it. I made this dish three times in a month. I made a double batch at the end of November (one as a test and one to bring for Thanksgiving with friends) and it was such a big hit that I made it again for Christmas with my family. It is perfect for a gathering, but just as wonderful on a day like this, when a massive snow storm looms and you need to hunker down. If you've started a new diet today, save this recipe for your next shindig, because I don't want anyone ruining their New Year's Resolutions on day two. Although if you did ruin a resolution with this lasagna... it would be totally worth it.

Pumpkin Lasagna
from the kitchen of Sara Van Goor

1 box (1 1/4 lb) of lasagna noodles (I use no-bake noodles, Sara does not, so it is up to you!)
8 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto cut into 1" x 1" pieces
1/4 c. sage leaves torn into irregular pieces
1 1/2 c. of freshly grated parmesan
2 c. chopped walnuts lightly toasted

Pumpkin Filling:
1 stick of butter
6 leeks, trimmed, rinsed well and minced
4 c of pumpkin puree (1 large can)
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Bechamel Sauce:
1 stick of unsalted butter
6 Tbsp of flour
2 cups of chicken broth (room temp)
2 cups of light cream (room temp)
1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
salt and white pepper to taste
3 large eggs, at room temp, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 x 13 inch casserole or baking dish.
If using regular noodles, boil and drain.
Prepare the pumpkin filling: Melt the butter in a large skillet, add the leeks and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and white wine, cook 2 minutes, add salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Make the Bechamel: Melt the butter in a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth, cook stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, then the light cream, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the parmesan and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Stir 1/2 cup of the hot sauce into the beaten eggs in a small bowl (this prevents them from curdling when you add them) then add the egg mixture to the remaining sauce, cook another 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
Assemble the lasagna:  Spoon a small amount of sauce into the pan just to coat the bottom. Make a layer of noodles on the bottom, layer on 1/2 of the prosciutto, 1/3 of the bechamel, & 1/2 of the sage leaves.
Make another layer of noodles, add all of the pumpkin, layer 1 cup of parmesan, & 1 cup of the walnuts. Make another layer of noodles, add rest of the prosciutto, 1/3 of the bechamel, rest of the sage leaves.
Make another layer of noodles and top with 1 cup of parmesan.
Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 60 minutes.

*Note: You can freeze this lasagna also! Bake for 30 minutes, cool, and cover tightly with foil. When ready to serve allow it to defrost and bake 30 minutes at 350 to heat through.