Noodling a New Idea
I have to say I’ve been fascinated by the squash on the farm this summer. We grew squash in the family garden when I was growing up so it’s most certainly not a new or unusual crop for me like kohlrabi was earlier this season. But I guess I never really bothered to study it in such detail before. Now that we’re on our third planting of it at the farm, I’m getting very familiar with its growing stages.
For starters, if any of you get bored one day and find yourself “watching the grass grow”, pick yourself up and go watch some squash grow. Unlike grass, you can practically see it change before your eyes. Given the right summery conditions, a small squash like the one in the picture above will just about double in size between sunrise and sunset!
Then there are the blossoms. If they didn’t wilt so quickly, I would make these wispy orbs of sunshine my flower-of-choice for a wedding bouquet – that’s how stunning they are. And the inside of them is strikingly reminiscent of a sand dollar. See for yourself!
Of course, the blossoms are delicious too, as I found out earlier this summer. A customer at Headhouse told me they are also served in Italy on pizza with anchovies. I’d forego the anchovies personally but I think squash blossoms on pizza sound delightful, don’t you?
But what’s really been drawing me in this summer is the versatility of squash. I know all the standard recipes for using up the (sometimes annoying) bounty, but I wanted to try something different. Last evening I was torn between making a squash gratin recipe I’ve been dying to make for awhile and using up the ingredients I had for lasagna before leaving for vacation at the end of this week (who wants to blog sit??). The proverbial light bulb went off in my head, and I decided to combine my two culinary desires by using the squash as the “noodles” for a lasagna.
Wouldn’t ya know it…squash slices make great noodles! Perhaps this isn’t a new idea to anyone else so please tell me if it’s old hat for you. I’m just glad to have a new way to put my current veggie “flame” to good use. It’s even so discreet in the dish that I bet you could get picky kids or adults to eat it without ever knowing it’s got squash in every bite! If you’re not quite ready to take on a full squash lasagna, consider making it with alternating layers of pasta and squash noodles.
Adapted from basic back-of-the-box lasagna recipe
1 packet of Boca soy crumbles
3 c. spaghetti sauce
1 small container of low fat ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T. minced fresh basil
2 T. minced fresh oregano
2 large squash
4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, cut squash lengthwise into 1/8th inch thick slices. Set to side.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a skillet, brown soy crumbles (or hamburger if using meat) and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Once browned, combine crumbles with spaghetti sauce and set aside.
In a bowl, combine egg, ricotta cheese and fresh herbs. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper before mixing well.
Begin assembling the lasagna in a 9″x13″ baking pan/dish by covering the bottom with some of the spaghetti sauce. Next add a single layer of squash slices.
Next, add a layer of 1/3 of the cheese mixture, spread evenly. Add a layer of mozzarella cheese, about 2 cups. Repeat the process of layering sauce, squash and then cheese mixture two more times (do not add the mozzarella in the middle). Finish the lasagna by adding the remaining sauce and mozzarella and then sprinkling the parmesan cheese on the top of the dish.
Cover with tin foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
(serves 8 )