Comfort

It’s Friday night and I (in true small town fashion) went for a long walk with Kale (my dog), did a bunch of dishes that piled up over the course of the week, and (surprisingly) made an intricate meal. After a long week of playing catch up, this was exactly the night and meal-therapy that I needed.

This intricate dinner is something I’ve been thinking about all week. Perhaps it was my trip back east that made me crave italian-like food. Perhaps it was stocking the fridge with spring veggies or the fact that I’m trying to use up some frozen pureed pumpkin from the fall. Either way, it has been on my mind, distracting me from work all week. And, thankfully, it turned out better than I expected!

You see, I think I was in need of some comfort food just 3 short hours ago. While I’ve surrounded myself with great friends (that have been so great to me), taken some trips, and exercised more than usual, this month has been hard and long. I feel like I have all these thoughts and plans and ideas stored up in my head ready to explode once the one I’m supposed to be sharing life with returns. I’m not bitter, I just want to keep moving forward in life together and I feel like I’m stuck in limbo.

So maybe that’s it – a meal created for comfort. The chopping and method of cooking moving me through the night, tomorrow, and the next couple of days until the love of my life returns. And cooking makes me happy, so what better way to end the work week and begin an adventure-filled weekend?

The problem with cooking comfort food right now is that it feels like summertime up in these mountains and I’m trying to eat healthily. Those two considerations really knock out most comfort food. Enter my idea – springtime lasagna. Not meaty, not heavy, not very much cheese, and spring vegetables. It’s light and savory and will satisfy you, I promise.

Springtime Lasagna

Makes 1, 9×9 pan

Give yourself about 3 hrs to make this from start to finish.

Ingredients:

9 lasagna sheets

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

1 teas salt

1 egg

1 clove of garlic, diced

1/2 teas oregano

1/2 teas thyme

fresh chopped parsley and basil – about 1/2 teas of each

For the ‘meat’:


8 green onions, white and light green parts chopped

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

8 spears of asparagus, chopped

3 cups spinach, chopped

Salt to taste

10 thin slices of tomato

For the garnish:

Freshly grated parmesean cheese

Green ends of the green onions, chopped

Directions:

Combine all ingredients for the ‘filling’ – pumpkin, ricotta cheese, smashed/diced garlic, salt, egg, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley. My recommendation is to mix it all together without the egg first, season to your personal liking then add the egg (to prevent any sickness). Also, any spices – fresh or dried – can be used! It’s important to do this step first to let the flavors meld together.

Next, boil a large pot of water and cook the lasagna noodles before they reach al dente – as in still pretty tough. Drain and rinse with cool water. Lay to dry on drying rack if you’re so inclined (I wasn’t).

White noodles are cooking, sauté white and green onions and garlic until the onions become translucent. Then add the asparagus and spinach until the spinach leaves are cooked, but still vibrantly green.

To assemble: Pour olive oil over the bottom of the 9×9 glass pan to prevent noodles from sticking. Place first layer of lasagna noodles on bottom of pan, cover with 1/3 ricotta/pumpkin mix, then half of the spinach/asparagus mix, then place a layer of tomato slices. Repeat with the noodles, ricotta/pumpkin, spinach/asparagus, and remaining tomato slices. Finish with noodles and the remaining third of the pumpkin/ricotta mixture on top. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F (350°F for those of you at sea level or lower than 7,000 ft) for 45mins. Then remove the foil, grate fresh parmesean over the dish, and bake for another 5 minutes. Once finished, garnish by chopping the green ends of the green onion. Let sit for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Did I mention this was intricate? Yes, intricate, but oh so worth it!

With love,

from Jess’ kitchen

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