I’ve probably mentioned it here before countless times (though I can’t really remember any specific occasion) but I have a tomato intolerance. In some ways I am very lucky, it could have been a lot worse, like gluten or lactose, but as a 23 year old who just found out that their entire cooking repertoire was out it was pretty life altering.
If I had to pinpoint a moment when I became interested in cooking, that was it. Overnight the whole way I shopped for and ordered food changed, the premade jars of sauces and soups I lived off before were off the menu along with most of my favourite cuisines.
This all sounds very dramatic (which is felt at the time – I spent a lot of my early 20s channeling my inner diva), but years down the line I barely need to think about it anymore. Making nearly everything from scratch rather than to spend hours in the supermarket reading labels, checking menus out online so I know what to order when we go out for dinner and ordering food in the style of Sally Albright (from When Harry Met Sally) have become a part of life. Without the forced attention to food I would have never realised how much I love cooking and this blog would never have been created.
I have a mental checklist of my favourite foods that I don’t eat any more, and I have been very slowly working through remaking and perfecting what we call ‘Jenny-Friendly’ alternatives. So far we have pizza, curry and lasagna down, so just chilli, spaghetti bolognese and salsa to go.
This lasagna is based on the one from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate, and was one of the reasons I eagerly purchased the book. The lack of a second sauce makes it quite dry and I found that the dried pasta sheets didn’t cook properly the first time I made it so now I use fresh pasta or presoak the dried pasta which I find more fiddly. I also found that pre cooking the garlic and sage made very little difference compared with how much attention it needed to stop them from catching. The original recipe only calls for butternut squash which I found made the dish a little bland but the addition of sweet potato gives it a boost of flavour. This dish freezes very well once baked.
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna
from Celebrate by Pippa Middleton
Half a butternut squash skinned, deseeded and cubed
1 medium sweet potato peeled and cubed
3 medium garlic cloves diced
20g fresh sage, reserve 8-10 leaves chop the rest
1 portion of fresh pasta rolled into 4 layers or a box of dried pasta sheets
30g parmesan grated
2 balls of mozerella
salt and pepper
1 pint of bechamel sauce.
Toss the cubed squash and sweet potato in olive oil and bake at 200C for 20 minutes.
Though I usually don’t prepare all my ingredients before I start cooking it is worth having everything out in bowls at this point.
If you’re using dried pasta cover the bottom of a roasting tray with sheets of pasta making sure they don’t overlap of they bind together, pour over boiling water and leave for 3 minutes before using. Repeat as necessary. This stage is a bit fiddly but I feel it makes a big difference to the final texture of the dish.
Layer the pasta, one third of the chopped garlic and herbs, roasted vegetables and sprinkle with a quarter of the parmesan, and pour over a quarter of the bechamel and repeat another two times.
Place the final layer of pasta, smooth the remaining bechamel over covering the pasta completely. Lay the whole sage leaves over the top then sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and the torn mozerella.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes and serve hot.