I got in the mood to cook this weekend. I was going to make eggplant lasagna bundles, but then I realized our Hello Fresh box has eggplant in it this week. So I scoured some recipes and decided to try a Butternut Squash and Polenta lasagna.
Let me preface this with the weather. I’ve been in Florida for six years now and cannot remember a stretch with this much constant, pouring rain. A thirty minute afternoon shower? Sure. A whole day deluge followed by a week of the same? Not so much. I’m pretty sure if I waded into the grass I’d find mushrooms and poor puppy just isn’t getting the walks she needs.
This discussion of the weather does have an actual purpose beyond the explaining why I wanted to spend the day in the kitchen. As I gathered all the ingredients for my experiment I realized I needed rosemary and thyme. Rosemary and thyme are in my garden and I don’t have a stash of frozen or dried on hand. So what is a girl to do? Well … I sent Bob into the weather to acquire my herbs. Aka – I made him go venture forth into the pouring rain, wade through the puddles and bravely harvest some herbs. I figure, I do all the cooking, this was his contribution to the meal.
I started with making polenta. The recipe I used called for a different polenta than the Alton Brown miracle polenta I use all the time, but I decided to give it a try. I chopped my shallots, measured my water and milk, grated my cheese and went to work.
It was looking pretty good, but I probably should have cooked it a little longer. It didn’t set as I expected, but the flavors were still good.
As the polenta cooked I got the squash ready. Peeled, sliced, piled and seasoned into the oven they went.
Next up was the chard and cheese. I know chard goes from massive pile to almost nothing with cooking, but I always get a tad nervous when I start making it.
With a mound like that, do you blame me?
The chard, once cooked down into a handful, and cooled was combined with ricotta and fontina cheeses, an egg and some seasoning. I was ready to assemble.
Layer of polenta (should have been set, but I rushed this part) then the cheese and chard followed by butternut squash and then all repeated. It looked super pretty in the pan.
But a little less so once I cooked it and played it.
However, the taste was fantastic. It had some earthiness from the chard, a little sweetness from the squash and a creamy texture and herbal note from the polenta. I can’t wait to have this for lunch the rest of the week.
Future notes … I’m going to use the Alton Brown Polenta instead of the one in the recipe. It always works and it is just perfect. I may keep the herbs, but I’m going back to the basic recipe for this. Also, I’m probably using more ricotta or a smaller pan than they said. It was almost not enough for that layer. I’m keeping the chard and the roasted squash. I really loved this dish and with fall coming, I think it going to be perfect.
Also, I paired this with a cider – and not just any cider, a kiwi cider from New Zealand.
I wasn’t sure about this initially, but I love ciders, love kiwi and have a particular fondness for fruit ciders. This did not disappoint. In fact, I got a fruit taste, but not kiwi in particular but there was a great, clean cider taste that was perfect. It doesn’t beat the Stella on tap in England, but it does, at the very least, rival the bottled Stella Cidre I get here in the States.