Born Pinner, Budding Chef | Butternut Squash Kale Lasagne

Earlier this month, I started a new series called "Born Pinner, Budding Chef," where I share the best recipes I've found on Pinterest. I'm not a chef or an expert on anything here (lie, I'm pretty much an expert Pinner), but this legitimizes my Pinterest addiction and I know Charlie Sheen is so 2011, but you could definitely say I'm #winning. I'm a little late in the day for this week's Sunday night dinner, so you get a bonus recipe. I'll usually post this series on Sunday mornings because I am of the opinion that a nice Sunday meal is the best, whether you're a single chick or a family of five. Something about it sets a sweet tone for the week ahead.

Obsessed is not a strong enough word to explain how I feel about today's recipe, Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagne. It's bananas foster yummy and it fills the needs for healthy, satisfying and quick-to-make winter meal. It's the least strong in the last category because a lasagne -- being a layered dish in itself -- has a layered prep process. But trust me. Every gotdamned minute you spend prepping this is ten minutes you will spend thanking yourself on the other end of the meal.

The flavor blend of the butternut and kale with the ricotta and herbs and the melty cheese is so satisfying on a Sunday night. But you're getting a lot of nutrients down the hatch at the same time, between the squash, kale, herbs and whole grain pasta. The dairy is easy enough to replace if you wanted to make this vegan. But I make it pretty close to the Pinterest recipe I used (except they use spinach and I use kale), which was from Julia's Album. I recommend the same if you eat dairy. Les'go!

Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagne

________________________________

What you need:

For the butternut squash filling, mix together:

  • 2 cups mashed butternut squash (just halve it, remove seeds and pulp, roast the halves face-down for 30 minutes at 400 and the flesh will peel right off the skin. I know that sounds gross, but in the context of a squash, not so much)
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of milk (add more if needed)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • Fresh basil, torn apart (as in, rip it with your hands, don't cut or chop it... better flavor)

(Increase this proportionally depending on your baking dish. I also recommend tasting it at this point and adjusting your spices to your taste)

Mix the following ingredients with your hands to make the kale filling (it massages the kale in the process, which improves the flavor):

  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped up (I choose kale because it's that much more healthy, and I found its taste and texture to be amazing with the other ingredients in this dish)
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • As much garlic as you like. The recipe called for 2 cloves, minced, but I put in a whole head of garlic. No vampires here.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

(Increase this proportionally depending on your baking dish, as with the above)

Other Ingredients:

  • 10 oz whole grain lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (or more)
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste -- add a bit between layers and some on top)

What you do:

  • Layer this mofo!
  • First, preheat your oven to 375 and grease your baking dish (this recipe is based on an 8.5x11x3 in. dish) the way you like to do so. I rub ghee on with my hands, but if baking spray or butter is your thang... do you!
  • Cover the bottom with a layer of lasagne noodles.
  • Cover that with a layer of the butternut squash filling, spread evenly on top of the noodles.
  • Top the butternut squash layer with some shredded mozz and parmesan.
  • Cover all that goodness with another layer of noodles.
  • Time for the kale filling -- cover the noodles with a layer of kale yummies, spread evenly over the top.
  • Top the kale with more shredded mozz and parmesan.
  • Repeat the above until you fill your dish or run out of fillings!
  • Top it all with more shredded mozz and parmesan. I ripped and sprinkled more fresh basil and spices on top as well, which was nice.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes.
  • Let cool just a bit, then dig in and watch it disappear!

I've made this twice in the past two weeks and cannot get enough on those healthy-cheat, belly-warmer meal days. For the sake of its long-term lifespan in my house, I'm going to give it a rest for a month before I bring it back into the mix. Just enough time for you to try this, improve the recipe and let me know how it goes!

Bon appetit!

P.S. So far, not so good on the taking crappy iPhone photos of what I'm cooking, but I promise to improve upon that in the future!