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Rainbow Veggie Lasagne

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Rainbow Veggie Lasagne

Oh man folks - rainbow lasagne is basically my new favorite food group! My first test of this recipe was made when we had some friends coming over for dinner. There may be little better than pulling what appears to be a simple cream sauce lasagne from the oven - then lifting a slice out to reveal the impressive interior. It's sure to impress, visually and in flavor! 

I'll be the first to admit, making this dish is a bit of a commitment since you have to make three different fillings instead of the one typical of most lasagnes, but I can guarantee it's worth the extra effort. And as long as you're not feeding a huge crowd, a lasagne means plenty of leftovers - filling your life with color all week long! 

I started this recipe off with my homemade pasta dough. It might seem obsessive, but I always make lasagne with homemade pasta dough. The flavor is unbeatable, and the sheets of pasta can be rolled extra thin for a version like this one with 6 layers! These gorgeous eggs and a pile of flour seemed like the perfect place to start a rainbow lasagne. I'm forever grateful for sweet farmers raising pastured eggs in picture perfect pastels. They're so magical! 

Then, we have our rainbow of fillings. Roasted beets and carrots are pureed with fresh thyme, caramelized onion and garlic, and a little stock for a rich and flavorful puree. Spicy greens (I've made this with both arugula and mustard greens!) are turned into a bright green pesto for the top layer - packed with bright flavor and brilliantly colorful. 

I think that this time of year, when (in Michigan at least!) the ground hasn't yet sprung to life and the trees remain leafless, finding the foods that can bring us a bright dose of color is SO important. With a great supply of hoophouse-grown greens, this recipe can be made from 100% local ingredients, even this bleak time of year! If you live somewhere a little luckier in the arrival of spring department, think of this as a way to celebrate the colorful world around you! 

Assembling this beauty is all about creating nice and even layers. Grab an offset spatula (you won't be sorry!) and spread those gorgeous colors gently over the noodles. It's just like frosting a cake... but so much healthier! 

So soak in these gorgeous colors, cut yourself a big slice of lasagne, and settle into a meal shared with the people you love most. For this is the type of dish that was designed to be shared with friends, served with a big salad and a glass of wine, and enjoyed with an evening of engaging conversation and laughter. 

Rainbow Veggie Lasagne

4 large beets

8 medium carrots 

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup white wine 

stock (vegetable or chicken) or milk to thin the puree

2 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped 

salt & pepper 

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1/2 cup shelled pistachios, cashews, or almonds 

1/2 cup olive oil 

3 Tbsp lemon juice

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt 

5 oz arugula, mustard, or another spicy green

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

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6 Tbsp butter 

6 Tbsp flour 

3 cups whole milk (ideally warmed slightly) 

1 Tbsp coarsely ground pepper 

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped 

2 tsp salt 

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1 recipe homemade pasta OR 1 box lasagne noodles 

2 cups grated parmesan 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

Vegetable Puree Fillings 

  • Peel and chop the beets and carrots into a large dice. The smaller you chop them, the faster they'll cook. With the beets on one pan and the carrots on another, drizzle them with a bit of olive or vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with oil. 
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until soft. 
  • While the veggies are baking, sauté onion over medium heat with a little oil or butter. When they're translucent and just starting to brown, add the garlic and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes. Stir often throughout the process. When the onions are starting to look caramelized, add the white wine and use the liquid to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan (this is called deglazing, and makes sure all that great flavor comes off the pan!). Set aside. 
  • In a blender or food processor, puree beets, 1 Tbsp thyme, half of the onion and garlic mixture, salt and pepper to taste, and as much stock or milk as you need to not overwork your machine. 
  • Clean the bowl/pitcher and repeat the process with the carrots. 
  • Set the fillings aside. 

Pesto Filling

  • In a food processor or blender, puree nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt until the nuts are in very small pieces. 
  • Add about half of the greens to start, blending until they're mostly broken down. Then add the rest of the greens and the parmesan cheese and puree until all the greens are incorporated. 

Cream Sauce 

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, start by melting the butter. Once melted, add the flour and immediately start whisking until it's fully incorporated. Let the mixture cook for about 30 seconds, then slowly pour in the milk while whisking. Continue whisking to thoroughly combine the milk and the butter mixture. 
  • Add the pepper, thyme, and salt. 
  • Continue cooking for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened. 
  • Remove from heat and move on to assembling your lasagne right away. 

Assembly and Baking 

  • Now it's time to layer it all up! The dish I used is 7x10, but a 9x9 square would work great as well. 
  • I always make my lasagne with freshly made pasta, taking it straight from the pasta roller to the pan, but you can also make this recipe with par-boiled lasagne noodles from the store. I rolled my noodles to #6 on my Kitchenaid pasta roller, ensuring a thin pasta layer and that there would be enough for the whole pan! 
  • Start by pouring half of the cream sauce into the bottom of the dish, and spreading it evenly. Then we're going to create two layers of each filling, starting with the beets, and sprinkle in a little cheese with each one. So it goes like this: noodles, half the beet filling, a little cheese, noodles, repeat. Then half the carrot filling, a little cheese, noodles, repeat. Then half the pesto, a little cheese, noodles, repeat. Over the top layer of noodles, pour the second half of the cream sauce. 
  • Cover the lasagne with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until it's nice and bubbly. 
  • Remove from oven and remove the foil. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top, along with those last two cloves of minced garlic. 
  • Bump the heat up to 450, and bake for another 10 minutes, until the top is golden. 

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Pork Posole Rojo

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Pork Posole Rojo

Posole is one of my favorite comfort foods, and this posole rojo has become a standard in our household. Unless you're feeding a crowd, this recipe makes enough for a hearty supply of leftovers to tuck into the freezer for a day when you need a quick and satisfying meal. 

The simplicity of dried chilies, onions, and garlic pureed to spice up a pork broth is absolutely magical. Every time I make this I'm impressed by the complex flavors brought to life from such a short list of ingredients. This is the type of cooking that creates a bounty of food from just a few things - proving that classic simple dishes of the people are the workhorses of our dinner tables. 

I mentioned this dish being a great option for stashing leftovers in the freezer. Life is rather hectic around our home right now, with our move back to Michigan just one short week away and plenty of things left on the to do list! As the dreaded process of packing up the kitchen looms, I couldn't be happier to have a freezer stocked with meals like this one for our final week in town. While I'll be sad to see our favorite kitchen tools packed up into boxes, I am SO glad that we'll be able to eat well this final week simply heating up leftovers. 

Sometimes, my planning amazes me! 

It's a bittersweet time, as moving always seems to be. We couldn't be more excited to return to northern Michigan, the place that brings so much joy to our life together. To buy a home and settle into a space in a way that just doesn't happen when you're renting. To be reunited with my other true love, Lake Michigan. But of course, we're leaving behind some pretty amazing things here in Portland - incredible people we've gotten to know, so much amazing food, and the ever-impressing wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. This is a pretty darn special corner of the world! 

So here you are, the very last recipe from my tiny Portland kitchen. It's been real living with a mini stove/oven/fridge in a small but powerful space... but I sure am excited for life in a bigger kitchen! 

Posole Rojo 

1 rack pork ribs (spare ribs or baby back will work great) 

1 1/2 cups dry hominy OR 2 cans canned hominy 

2 quarts pork broth (chicken or vegetable broth will also work) 

5 dried ancho chiles, seeds and stem removed

5 dried guajillo chiles, seeds and stem removed

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced 

8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 

1 Tbsp oregano, finely chopped

salt to taste 

cilantro, radish, and lime to garnish

  • If using dry hominy, soak overnight before beginning. 
  • Place ribs, dry hominy (hold off if you're using canned), and broth in a large pot.  Gently simmer for 2-3 hours, until a rich broth has formed, the pork is tender, and the hominy is cooked. 
  • As the broth nears finishing, soak the chiles in boiling water for 30 minutes. While they're soaking, sauté the onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp of oil until lightly browned. In a blender or food processor, puree the chiles, onions, and garlic with just as much of the chili liquid as needed for it to be smooth. 
  • Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil in a pan, then add the pureed pepper mixture. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. 
  • Remove the ribs from the broth and strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve or a coffee filter if needed. Cut the meat off the bone and into small pieces. 
  • Combine broth, pepper mixture, hominy (add the canned hominy now if using!), pork, and oregano in a large pot and let simmer for about 5 minutes until everything is hot. Salt to taste. 
  • Serve topped with cilantro, radish slices, and a squeeze of lime. 

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 Pasta Fresca & Our Garden

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Pasta Fresca & Our Garden

While I can sometimes be known to search at all lengths for a special ingredient to make incredibly specific dishes, the recipe I'm sharing today is not one of those. In fact, it is about as opposite as can be! This is the dish you make with whatever happens to be fresh in your world, whatever catches your eye at the farmers market or beckons to be harvested from your garden. Or in some cases, whatever needs to be used from your fridge. The options are endless! 

But first, lets look at some garden photos! My babes and I finally got our hands on a little plot of land to start gardening again, and we couldn't be happier to have returned home from vacation with food to be harvested (thanks so a sweet friend who watered while we were gone!).

On my most recent trip to the garden, I got lost for a bit photographing bees... I could definitely photograph bees for a nearly endless amount of time. I love the chase, being as still as possible to not disturb them, and finally capturing clear shots of those speedy little wonders. Bees are so vital to our world, they deserve our respect. 

Also, I always want to give that little hairy bit on their back a pet! 

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In our plot, greens abound - everything from kale to mustards to tender salad mix. Even many of the non-greens plants could be eaten as greens if we so wish - turnips, radishes, and beets. It's a salad in the soil! 

In a neighbors plot, early planted onions are going to seed, creating these big and beautiful displays. 

Now - back to that pasta! 

The few things that do matter in making this dish shine are having a flavorful olive oil, quality sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a tasty hard cheese. Those things aside, you just go ahead and fill the veggie space with whatever you so dream. 

My version of this dish is made from rustic spinach pasta we've had in the pantry, but you can make it with whatever pasta you please. Veggies were made up of the harvests of my garden, some broccoli that caught my eye at the farmers market and was kindly traded to me for lunch from the food truck I work for once a week, and carrots: a must-have in our fridge. 

It's nothing more than a bit of veggie prep, cooking pasta, and doing a little sautéing to bring this meal to the table. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal, and as leftovers for lunch the next day! 

Pasta Fresca 

note: I'm not going to include amounts in this recipe... please don't let that frighten you! Start with the amount of pasta that will serve your anticipated number of eaters, and aim for an equal amount of veggies. 

garlic 

onions 

veggies fresca (whatever is fresh and/or on hand), chopped into bite sized pieces 

pasta, any shape you fancy! 

olive oil 

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper 

fresh basil, chopped into fine ribbons 

freshly grated parmesan cheese, or another hard cheese 

  • Set a generously salted pot of water to boil over high heat. When it comes to a boil, add your pasta and cook for the directed amount of time given your pasta type. 
  • While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, start sautéing your vegetables. Heat a pan over medium heat, add a bit of olive oil, then the onions. When they start to become translucent, add the garlic and any other hearty vegetables that need a bit of cooking. Add in the remaining veggies based on their cooking times, ending with the things that need the least amount of cooking. Just give it your best guess if you're unsure - the worst that can happen is a few of your veggies still have their crunch factor! In my case, I added the carrots with the garlic, then the broccoli, then the kale. I stirred in the turnips and radishes fresh. 
  • When the veggies and the pasta are cooked (and the pasta is strained!), stir it all together in one of the pots you're using. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and stir it to coat. 
  • Plate the pasta with an extra drizzle of oil, salt & pepper sprinkled on top, and a bit of fresh basil and cheese to your liking. 

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