Seasonal pumpkin, blue cheese and watercress lasagne

When I saw this seasonal recipe I thought it looked unusual. The roast pumpkin, cinnamon, chilli flakes, garlic, blue cheese and watercress compliment each other perfectly and it makes an interesting change from a more traditional tomato-sauce-based lasagne. It would make a good veggie Christmas dinner option too (although you might need to use butternut squash instead).

pumpkin watercress blue cheese lasagne

You need to allow about 1 hour 45 minutes to make this, but at least 1 hour of that is cooking in the oven so it is not all graft! You could prepare the roast mix in the morning and then layer the lasagne and cook it later on.

The recipe is based on one from Guardian Cook but I have adapted the quantities and used danish blue cheese instead of gorgonzola as it is cheaper. Next time I might try topping it with chopped walnuts.

pumpkin watercress blue cheese lasagne

Instant dry chilli flakes are great by the way – they might not be fresh but they are still delicious! I often use them in salad dressings and when roasting veg. In fact I would even go so far as to say they are an *exciting ingredient* (see the ‘exciting ingredient’ category on the right hand side for more ideas).

For a more traditional veggie lasagne (my signature recipe!) check out this link: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/my-veggie-lasagne-50-mins-prep50-mins-cooking-and-the-versatility-of-soy-sauce/.

Pumpkin, blue cheese and watercress lasagne (serves 4)

1 medium sized pumpkin or butternut squash, cut in to wedges and skin chopped off (pumpkin is easier to cut!)
4 garlic cloves, skins on
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 pinches dry chilli flakes
Salt and black pepper
A glug of olive oil
60g grated parmesan
6-8 dried lasagne sheets
150g danish blue, gorgonzola or stilton cheese, crumbled
2 bunches watercress, roughly chopped
200ml double cream

Heat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, garlic, cinnamon, chilli, salt, pepper, glug of olive oil and a splash of water. Place on a non-stick baking/roasting tray and roast for approx 30 minutes, until soft. Stir regularly to avoid sticking.

Pop the garlic out of their skins, finely chop and put back with the pumpkin mixture and then add 40g of the parmesan. Mix together. Turn the oven up to 190 degrees/gas mark 6.

Layer the lasagne dish. Start with the lasagne sheets, then the pumpkin mixture, half the danish blue cheese and half the watercress. Layer again with the lasagne sheets, pumpkin mixture, remaining danish blue and watercress and then pour over the cream. Sprinkle the lasagne with the remaining parmesan then bake for approx 40 minutes, until the top is bubbling and golden. Serve with salad.

Mussels with cider, leek and shallot sauce (ready in 25 mins)

mussels

Now it is blustery and cold outside I can’t stop eating brothy comfort food, and the great thing about this dish is it is filling yet low in calories. The tender mussels sit in a subtly flavoured sauce of cider, leeks, shallots, garlic, parsley and creme fraiche. There is something quite therapeutic about washing the mussels during the preparation and then messily prizing them out of their shells in order to eat them. Bread (ideally baguette) is essential for soaking the sauce up as you go along and wiping the bowl clean at the end!

This recipe is based on one by Sainsbury’s but I have adapted it slightly. Allow just 25 minutes to make this dish and make sure you have an extra bowl at the table to put the empty shells in!

Please excuse the lower quality photo above – my boyfriend’s camera is away this weekend…

Mussels with cider, leek and shallot sauce (serves 4 with bread)

1kg fresh mussels
Olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 leek, trimmend and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped
300ml cider (original recipe specifies Somerset cider but you don’t need to be too specific – just don’t use really cheap stuff!)
1 heaped tbsp lighter creme fraiche
1/2 x 28g pack parsley, chopped
Baguette or bread, to serve

Wash the mussels under cold running water, removing the beards and any dirt. Discard any mussels that are open. Heat a large glug of oil in a pan and add the shallots and leeks. Cook for 5 mins until softened then add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Pour in the cider and cook for a further 5 mins.

Tip in the mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 4-5 mins, shaking/stirring occasionally until all the shells have opened. Discard any that remain closed.

Stir in the creme fraiche and half the parsley and season with ground black pepper. Ladle in to bowls and top with the remaining parsley. Serve with bread to mop up the sauce.

Based on a recipe by Sainsbury’s

Cheat’s banoffee pie (ready in 30 mins)

easy banoffee pie

How heavenly is caramel from a Carnation tin? I treasure this stuff. A buttery biscuit base, Carnation caramel, chopped bananas and whipped cream makes an absolutely gorgeous, classic dessert – banoffee pie. I have added toasted almonds for a little crunch and bitterness.

It takes 5 minutes to prepare the banoffee pie base, 10 minutes to top with the caramel, bananas, whipped cream and almonds, 15 minutes to chill and possibly only seconds to eat.

Cheat’s banoffee pie (serves 6-8 people)

150g digestive biscuits, crushed
75g melted butter
397g tin instant caramel (I used Carnation’s)
2 ripe bananas, chopped in to rounds
250ml whipping cream, whipped until thick
A handful of toasted flaked almonds (to toast them yourself simply heat on a dry frying pan for approx 1 minute until golden, shaking regularly to avoid burning)

Mix the biscuits and butter together and press in to the base of a 20cm cake tin. Spread over the caramel, put on the chopped bananas, spoon on the whipped whipping cream and top with the flaked almonds. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge. Eat.