Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thinking Outside the Squash Box

Experience and education won't only make you a versatile individual; proper application of life-skills will also save you an exceptional amount of time as evidenced by how much time I wasted at the supermarket looking for a squash that I would accidentally find in the frozen foods section.

So make note of this: puréed cooked winter squash is something that comes in a box. There is no finding the gourd and going through the grief of chopping into pieces and blending it and for that, I was grateful.

In other words, there are two reasons this recipe is called Freezer Vegetable Lasagna. 

The second reason is another matter of convenience in that this dish is simple to freeze and serve at a later date.

Until I met my boyfriend, I never realized how much stuff you can and should freeze. Growing up with Grandma I learned several refrigerator habits:

1. Don't bother finding Tupperware. When you're finished with soup, just put the entire pan in the fridge with leftovers.

2. Dairy and meat really won't spoil if left on the counter for hours. Just put it back when you remember it's supposed to be refrigerated. It'll be ok.

3. Things that go in the freezer are as follows: stuff you buy in the frozen foods section of the store, ice.

The concept of packaging cooked foods and then placing them in hibernation was completely foreign to me or something people who didn't mind eating gross expired meat and dairy products did. 

Isn't that ironic? Humanity and it's habits.


  • 1 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 ounce(s) lowfat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup(s) lowfat sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) cayenne pepper
  • 1 package(s) (16-ounce) frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 4 ounce(s) (about 1 cup) part-skim mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 2 ounce(s) (about 1/2 cup) feta, crumbled
  • 1 package(s) (12-ounce) puréed cooked winter squash, thawed
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese, sour cream, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach, then 3/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup feta.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup of the squash on the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 noodles and spread a third (about 1/4 cup) of the remaining squash over the top. Dollop with a third (about 1 cup) of the spinach mixture. Repeat twice with the remaining squash, noodles, and spinach mixture, finishing with a layer of spinach mixture.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining feta and mozzarella, cover tightly with nonstick foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until the noodles are tender and the top is golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve with a salad, if desired.
Squash is one of the foods that I used to decline but now enjoy. Among the others are tomatoes and country ham. It is also the only food that, after I've eaten it, makes me feel energetic. The reason may be due to the amount of zinc found that helps produce serotonin. Other benefits include sugar regulation, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

But for this recipe, it was interesting to line the bottom of the dish with something orange instead of something red. Adding the spinach made the results very Notre Dame. 

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