As soon as I read this recipe in Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger I knew it was exactly the sort of dish that I love to eat and cook. As with all things food, firstly comes the wanting to eat it, then I learn to cook it. I’ve followed this philosophy for many years and all the greats have come out of my kitchen in fact I don’t think I have turned down a recipe based on its complexity.
I eagerly digested the ingredients list, all the autumn stars were there, charred leeks, butternut squash, kale. I often feel cheese lends itself to autumn/winter food as well. I decided I would definitely make it and photographed the recipe list with my phone, a far simpler way than finding pen and paper and writing a list. Gathered the ingredients at my local supermarket and planned my Saturday afternoon cooking. Ella extolls the virtues of Saturday afternoon cooking for such a complicated dish and I have to agree with her, it’s lovely to pootle around the cooker immersed in a little light stirring with savoury smells gently wafting from the oven.
The most difficult thing to do was to prepare the butternut squash. I do believe they sell it already prepared these days, but I always have at least one or two on the windowsill ready and willing to be prepared into a lovely risotto or roasted to have with salads or main courses. They are so versatile and will keep for weeks and in my mind, quite cheap to buy.
The butternut squash prepared with butter, thyme and black pepper and a slosh of white wine, along with a head of garlic to be roasted, that needed to come out at half time.
Some beautiful leeks,
that needed to be fried in two pans! With the benefit of hind sight I should have got my wok out.
The garlic retrieved at half time had roasted beautifully.
I prepared our home grown kale. Hubby had retrieved it for me from the allotment and although there was a lot, it was still less than the required 400g. And I only used about half of this, I don’t know whether my dish is too small or the amount is wrong. I think in this case go with your instincts.
I then made a cheese sauce which included leaving a bay leaf in (removed once cooked) and squeezed the roasted garlic into this, retrieved the bubbling, slightly scorched, slightly syrupy butternut squash from the oven and lightly mashed it in the baking tray. And set about assembling the lasagne, studiously following Ella’s layering technique.
Layered through with cheese sauce and enrobed on the top, finished with a fine layer of parmesan, a ball of mozzarella and a grating of nutmeg. it entered the oven for 45 minutes. Although I was worried about the raw kale not cooking enough as the lasagne dish was full to the brim, so left it for an extra ten minutes in the cooling oven, having first opened the door for a few seconds to release the blast of heat.
And just look at that! What a treat.
And it was lovely. The charred leeks shone, the butternut squash added comfort with the cheese sauce and pasta and the kale (which was so tender) added a touch of sprightliness and a touch of much needed bitterness to the whole dish. The nutmeg was inspired as was the roasted garlic and who doesn’t love the essence of a bayleaf and black pepper in a cheese sauce. We liked this a lot. Definitely on the list to do again.