Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Butternut Squash and Creamed Spinach Gratin

If you follow me on Instagram you were able to see this dish as I made it from beginning to end.  Thank goodness my teenage daughter showed me how to post to my "story" and "highlights"!
I am posting the step-by-step pictures here, as I always do for my blog.  This is a winner of a recipe because it is easy and delicious.  Don't worry about exact measurements for squash or spinach, this recipe will work out no matter what proportions you use.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash and Creamed Spinach Gratin
recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2006

3 (10-ounce) boxes of fresh baby spinach plus another 6 oz. box (doesn’t need to be exact – if you only used the three boxes it will be fine)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for greasing pan and topping gratin
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste but be careful not to over salt!)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
2-3 pounds butternut squash (1 large or 2 small), peeled and seeded
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring 2 cups (or so) water to a boil in a pot over high heat. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted, about a minute. Remove wilted spinach to large colander (with plate or shallow bowl underneath to catch liquid).  Continue until all the spinach is wilted (pouring off liquid from plate as needed).  Bring colander and plate over to sink and using a smaller plate press down on spinach until most of excess moisture has been removed.
Transfer to a bowl.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, add onion and garlic, and about ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper, cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion mixture to spinach along with another ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper, nutmeg, and cream and stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish (13 by 9 inches; not glass).
Peel and seed the squash and cut squash to separate bulb section from solid neck section, add to Cuisinart using slicer blade.
Layer squash and spinach mixture in baking dish, using about one fifth of squash and one fourth of spinach for each layer, beginning and ending with squash. Sprinkle top layer of squash evenly with cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter, then cover directly with a sheet of parchment paper. Bake until squash is tender and filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes. 

Monday, October 08, 2018

Homecoming 2018: Chiapparelli's-Style Salad on the Menu

Um, yes, I mispelled Chiapparelli's on our chalkboard.

We recently hosted my son and his friends for a Homecoming Dance Dinner Party.  This salad was on the menu because it is a proven crowd-pleaser.  Below are some pictures of our evening.  What a sweet group we had here in our home.  It's also VERY sweet when the older brother includes the younger sister and her date.  It was his dinner party after all.
That same little sister likes to take this salad to school for lunch.  She adds toasted, sliced almonds and roasted, salted chickpeas to make it extra-special. (see details at end of this post)
This salad dressing gets better with time although I suspect you will use it up within a week.  It's just that good!

Chiapparelli’s-style Salad
Recipe adapted from several recipes found online

3 to 4 heads of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
1 small clove of garlic, crushed with a pinch of kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
Juice of ½ a lemon
½  teaspoon kosher salt
½  teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)
¼ cup Pecorino Romana cheese (grated)

In a large measuring cup whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt.  Once sugar/salt are dissolved whisk in the olive oil, oregano, pepper, and crushed garlic.

Toss lettuce with grated cheeses and then toss again with dressing to coat– not too much!  

Store chopped Romaine Lettuce in Mason Jars - keeps for a week!

Just press knife down at slight angle to crush garlic - salt will help with crushing action.

A small pop of purple for school spirit!
Everyone through the buffet line - always makes it easy to serve a crowd.

Ready for the Lunch Box
Sea Salt Crunchy Chickpeas
This is what their packaging used to look like and below is their new packaging.

This is the brand we like best.  We found them at Whole Foods and My Organic Market.

I like the compostable bowl because it fits easily into her lunchbox.

We keep roasted sliced almonds in our pantry at all times - easy to do See How to Toast Nuts