Thursday, August 7, 2014

An Unusual Lasagna

Back in September, 2011, I wrote this post on purple sweet potato lasagna. Since then, my spouse and I both follow (more or less) the Weight Watchers style of eating.  It isn't easy, but it has been rewarding for both of us.

If we were making this today, we would use low fat ricotta and mozzarella (and less of it), lower the amount of pasta (and weigh it out) and we would probably use winter squash rather than sweet potato-and more of the veggie.  Sweet potatoes (as nutritious as they are) do have "points plus" charged to them in the Weight Watchers system, whereas winter squash do not. 

We are fortunate here in upstate New York - although sweet potatoes are difficult to grow, winter squash is not.  And, at this time of year, we know that its appearance in the local farmers markets is just around the corner.

So the choice, dear reader, is yours!  And, you actually have another choice.

How about PURPLE sweet potatoes?

Purple Sweet Potato Lasagna

Back in July of 2011, I blogged about some ethnic supermarkets we shopped in when we were staying in the Centerville/Chantilly, VA area.  We bought a couple of different vegetables there that we brought back to try.

One of the things we bought were purple sweet potatoes.  

We have always enjoyed growing unusual colored produce.  We grew (back in the 1970's, before most people heard of them) purple potatoes, yellow and white tomatoes, and yellow watermelon.  So the purple sweet potatoes were a natural.

Soon after we got home, spouse cooked a couple of them in the microwave.  Yuk.  They were dry and mealy.  I'm one of those persons who loves their food wet.  I have pasta with my tomato sauce.  That frustrates my spouse, who grew up in the Italian tradition of serving pasta with just a dab of sauce.

But even he agreed that the dry texture was a bit much.

We let the situation (and the sweet potatoes) lie until tonight, when it became apparent that the purple sweet potatoes wouldn't last much longer.  Apparently, they don't last as long as the sweet potatoes we are used to.

Spouse decided to use a recipe he's used for butternut squash and also for the sweet potatoes we are used to in U.S. markets.  And it worked!  Here, noting my spouse doesn't really measure, is what my spouse did.  Note, this is not a vegetarian recipe and he feels it would not work the same with out the ham.  And also note I also tried to make sense of his verbal narrative.  I suspect you will have to be an expert cook to follow this one.

Spouse's Purple Sweet Potato (or Yam or Winter Squash) Lasagna

You need lasagna noodles or any kind of flat pasta, or even bowties.   Then you need your favorite winter squash or sweet potato, cooked (microwave works great) until soft, let cool, and mash.  Ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced smoked ham (like Black Forest) or smoked sausage.  You'll need a little milk (skim is fine).  Finally, grated Romano or Parmesian cheese, and parsley to taste.  I can't tell you quantities.  Lots of luck.

For the sauce you need your choice of garlic, sage or rosemary.  Olive oil and/or butter, if desired.  Chicken stock.

First:

1.  Thinly slice ham or sausage, the mozarella cheese, and a couple of cloves of garlic.
2.  Chop garlic slices.
3.  Mince sage or rosemary.
4.  Start boiling water for pasta.
5.  In the meantime, mix the mashed potato/squash and mix with about an equal amount of ricotta cheese.
6.  Add a little bit of milk so that the mixture is smooth but still thick. (this is important).
7.  Chop your parsley and add to the mix.
8.  Add grated cheese to taste.

This is your filling.
 
9.  Cook pasta until al dente or even a little firmer. Do not overcook!

While pasta is cooking, make the sauce.

10.  Heat, on medium heat, anywhere from 2 tbsp to 4 tbsp of oil or oil/butter mixture.
11.  When hot, add garlic and chopped sage/rosemary.  Let garlic start to sizzle but don't let it brown.
12. When garlic just starts to turn golden, add 1/4 to 1/2 c chicken stock.
13.  Turn heat on to medium high and bring to boil.  Let it cook while the pasta is boiling and you assemble the dish.  You want it to boil down a bit but don't boil away.

Next:

14. Drain and immediately put back in pot; fill pot with cold water, swish around and let the pasta sit for several minutes until cools down. This keeps pasta from sticking.
15.  Preheat oven to 365 F.  While it preheats:
16.  Spray backing dish with cooking spray or lightly coat with oil
17.  Drain pasta that is sitting in the cold water.  Put back in pot.

Assembly:
18.  Assemble like a lasagna.  Layer of pasta first, then several scoops of filling.  Spread out evenly.  Another layer of pasta,  Then a layer of the ham/sausage.  Then another layer of pasta . Then a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Then repeat.  (I somehow think I messed up this part, as my head was pounding by now.)

At this point sprinkle some of sauce over the mozzarella.

Then another round of the above.

Finish with plain pasta. Then sprinkle top with more sauce. Reserve some sauce.   Place in oven and bake for 30 min.  Let it rest 10 minutes. Serve with rest of sauce.

Now you know why I don't write a cooking blog (and why, three years later, I still don't!).

Have you ever eaten purple sweet potatoes?

5 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever seen purple sweet potatoes, but this sounds really different and yummy! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Wow~ This sounds really interesting. I've never heard of purple sweet potatoes either! I doubt that I will find there anywhere around where I live, though, in a small rural area. But who knows! Thank you!

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  3. I haven't eaten purple sweet potatoes. I think I once tries the yellow-fleshed on, but it was too sweet. Hehe. I've since seen a recipe for crisps made from them, which would be another good way of using them up if they're starting to turn. Your recipe sounds good.

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  4. I've never heard of purple sweet potatoes, and I LOVE sweet potatoes! Interesting!

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  5. Alana,
    Thinking about you and hubby in the kitchen together just makes me smile. I've never eaten purple sweet potatoes, but I'd love to try some. And I'd love to try this recipe. Thank you!

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