Posts Tagged ‘winter vegetables’

Winter Greens Lasagna: great way to use up collard greens!

Winter Greens Lasagna: great way to use up collard greens!

One of the easiest ways to use of leftovers is to make a “lasagna.” I use the quotes because the term lasagna is used loosely here. Since coming back from  a recent trip to Florence, Italy I now know what authentic lasagna should taste like…but that is a topic for another post. I am back in the US and using the term “lasagna” to mean basically any baked flat noodle dish with sauce, filling, and cheese all baked together to result in a delicious casserole type meal.

After my New Year’s collard fix, I had leftover greens that were clean, chopped and needed to be used. In my search for how to use up the greens, I came across several lasagna recipes using spinach or swiss chard. So I thought, why not collards? I decided to take a risk and give it a try. It turned out to be a surprisingly tasty lasagna. The collards have a bit more bite than spinach, resulting in a lasagna that has a nice balance of flavor and texture. I added some chopped onion, red bell pepper, and kalmata olives to give the lasagna filling a Mediterranean twist. The end result was a delicious, healthy recipe that is a great way to use up leftover winter greens. The recipe below calls for collard greens in this version, but kale, swiss chard, etc. could be substituted. The key is to blanch the greens  for a few minutes to tenderize the them prior to baking in the lasagna. Oh yes, this is another vegetarian meal option that is hearty and flavorful enough for meat lovers to enjoy too!

Winter Collard Green Lasagna

9 lasagna noodles (no boil are ok, but I prefer regular)

1 chopped onion

1 chopped red bell pepper

garlic (optional)

1/2 cup chopped olives

4 cups fresh collard greens, washed and torn into pieces

one large egg, slightly beaten

salt and pepper

15 oz. whole milk ricotta

1 cup shredded low moisture mozzarella (feel free to use more, but I am watching my waistline…this is just enough for the perfect cheesy bite with each serving)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the ready made canned/jarred stuff..but fresh grated)

tomato sauce (I used a homemade version that has garlic, basil, oregano, and dried chili flakes as seasonings that I always have around, but you can just use 1 jar of your favorite store bought brand if you don’t have homemade sauce on hand)

To Make:

If using regular lasagna noodles, place noodles in pan with hot water. Let the noodles sit and soften while you are preparing the filing.

Boiled collard greens in a pot of boiling water until just tender. Remove from water and drain well. Depending on the size of the torn collards, chop into a rough chop and place in a large mixing bowl. Sauté the onions, red bell pepper in olive oil until just softened. If you like extra garlic, add chopped garlic to the onions and peppers and sauté for another minute (the tomato sauce I used had plenty of garlic so I skipped this step). Place sautéed veggies in mixing bowl with collards, add olives and stir to combine. To this mixture add ricotta and egg; salt and pepper to taste–mix together so that all ingredients are distributed evenly for the filling.

Lasagna filling: collards, red pepper, onion, olives, ricotta

Lasagna filling: collards, red pepper, onion, olives, ricotta

Assemble the lasagna: in a 9×13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan to cover. Top with a layer of 3 noodles, veggie filling, portion of mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce. Repeat layers ending with a layer of noodles, sauce then cheese as the top layers. Add parmesan cheese as extra cheesy topping.

Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges, heated through. You can check the warmth of the lasagna by sticking a knife in the center–checking the warmth of the knife tip to see if the lasagna is fully heated. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a bit then serve and enjoy!

Ready to slice for a perfect bite of winter greens lasagna

Ready to slice for a perfect bite of winter greens lasagna


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It’s a New Years celebration…Black-eyed peas and Collard Greens!

Fresh collards...a New Year's must!

Fresh collards…a New Year’s must!

On a recent trip to Florence, Italy I came across one of my new favorite feel-good dishes–Ribollita. Ribollita is a basic, peasant-style thick soup that is perfect for the cold winter months. Traditional Ribollita is a vegetable and bread based soup that is served reboiled the next day topped with a dash of fresh olive oil. The original recipe calls for Tuscan kale and cannellini beans; however, my own traditions call for eating collard greens and black-eyed peas  on New Years day so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to adapt one of my favorite soups for ringing in 2013! Plus, my husband has yet to acquire a taste for collard greens and black-eyed peas, so each year I look for creative new ways to sneak them into our New Years day meal 🙂  This one is a winner! Plus, if you are making a New Year’s resolution to be “healthy” this is a hearty vegetarian, vegan (depending on the bread you use) dish that will please any carnivore or omnivore out there.

Tuscan tradition with a twist

Tuscan tradition with a twist

Note: The soup is traditionally made the day before serving then reboiled (hence the name Ribollita) the next day. If you are stretched for time go ahead and make it all in one day–it will still taste good.

Good Luck Ribollita

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

2 russet potatoes peeled and diced

1 15 oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch (about 7 cups) fresh collard greens, washed, rinsed, and shredded/torn into bite sized pieces

6 whole tomatoes, peeled (can use whole tomatoes from a can, just the tomato, not the juice)

crusty bread

good olive oil

salt & pepper

Mirepoix: a classic combo for many great soups...carrots, celery, onion

Mirepoix: a classic combo for many great soups…carrots, celery, onion

Ribollita in the making...needs to boil then simmer for 2 hours

Ribollita in the making…needs to boil then simmer for 2 hours

Crusty bread on top of a bit of delicious olive oil...just top with the ribollita then bake

Crusty bread on top of a bit of delicious olive oil…just top with the ribollita then bake

Ready to bake in the oven

Ready to bake in the oven

To make:

In a large dutch oven or other heavy bottom pot head olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery and cook until soft–approximately 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, 1 tsp. salt, potatoes, and cook for about 3-5 minutes, you can crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the greens and beans. Pour 6-7 cups of water in the soup and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. About 1 1/2 hours into the cooking, use an immersion blender to roughly blend the soup to create a bit of thickness. Don’t over-blend–you want to the soup to still be rustic and chunky with a variety of textures from the vegetables and beans. Add 1 cup of torn stale crusty bread and continue to cook with the lid off to thicken the soup if needed. At this point the soup is pretty much done. You can continue the recipe at this point, but it won’t be real “ribollita/reboiled.”

To finish the ribollita, the next day bring the soup to room temperature. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using oven-proof soup crock or any other oven proof bowl add a little olive oil to the bowls to coat the bottom. Place a slice or two of crusty bread in the bottom of the bowl, then top with the soup. Bake in the oven until bubbly and heated through. To serve, add high quality olive oil to each bowl as a topping to the soup and garnish with fresh cracked black pepper.  I must admit…this soup is well worth the wait and I think it will be my newly established New Year’s lucky soup. Happy 2013!!

Lucy Ribollita

Lucky Ribollita

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Bizarre Veggies–Roasted!

Roasted Romanesco and Yellow Cauliflower

At the farmers market a few weeks ago as I was picking up my last CSA box, I encountered a bizarre veggie that I could not resist buying and figuring out what to do with–Romanesco Broccoli. Romanesco broccoli is an Italian broccoli that has a similar texture as that of cauliflower. You can use it for pastas, risotto, or as I have…just a delicious roasted side dish.  The flavor is mild, the texture is crunchy and all-together it is a wonderful combination of broccoli and cauliflower that just happens to look like it grew on Mars.

Romanesco Broccoli

So for the recipe–it is a safe, simple way to experiment with new veggies–roasting. Roasting is so simple and a great way to cook any hearty veggie. The roasting time depends on how “crispy brown” you like your veggies. I opt to have differing sizes of the veggies cut so that some pieces get really crunchy and brown while others are lighter and crisp tender.


  • olive oil, enough to coat veggies
  • Romanesco broccoli
  • Yellow cauliflower
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes

To make:

Preheat oven to 400-425. In a large bowl, mix cut Romanesco broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Place veggies in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes–or until brown and crisped to your liking. You can give the veggies a stir half way through for more even browning. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Delicious, Strange, Veggies: roasted yellow cauliflower & romanesco broccoli

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Side dish envy: Balsamic Butternut Squash

As much as I like a perfect bite of roast beef, turkey, or ham, filling my plate with multiple side dishes is my favorite part of a big holiday meal. Side dishes are often unfortunately overlooked during the holidays–a time when meats and desserts really shine. This recipe is so easy and results in a bold, flavorful side dish that will certainly be noticed. Leftovers reheat well or can be used as a tasty base for soup the next day. You can multiply this recipe to feed as many people as needed.

Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash


1 butternut squash

olive oil

salt and pepper

good Balsamic vinegar

To make:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If you buy whole squash, peel the squash with a sharp vegetable peeler then dice into approximately 1 inch cubes. To save some elbow grease you can buy the pre-cut butternut squash in most grocery stores in the produce aisle. I find the pre-cut are a bit dryer than cutting your own, but peeling and cutting the squash takes some effort. In a mixing bowl, toss the squash salt and pepper and olive oil until the squash are coated. Layer the squash onto a baking pan, lined with foil, in a single layer. Roast in the preheated oven for approximately 20-30 minutes or until browned and softened to your likeness (you can check the tenderness with a fork). Turn the squash about halfway through the cooking to get a more even caramelization/browning of the squash. I actually don’t turn them and prefer one crispy side and one softer side 🙂 Remove from the oven and sprinkle with you favorite balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy…have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Perfect Butternut Squash bites!

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Spring has finally sprung!  The need for those thick, bone warming soups is slowly slipping away. I had some extra carrots, onion, and potato that were just screaming to be used before the warm weather really kicks in this season. So what better way to use up those ingredients than to make a light carrot and potato soup! There is no cream in this soup, the potatoes serve double duty in this soup adding just the right amount of thickness and creaminess.

Carrot & Potato Soup

The trick to making these sorts of veggie soups is to layer the seasonings as you cook. Sauteing the carrots, onions, and potatoes for a few minutes with the seasonings revs up the flavor and makes a wonderful base upon which to add the broth. Otherwise if you add the seasonings at the end, they will just float around in the broth and not really mesh well with the vegetables–resulting in  a bland and unevenly seasoned soup.

Leftover soup can be frozen so it can be a  ‘go-to’ on those chilly spring days. But it is light and delicious enough to be a perfect bite any time of the year…

Carrot and Potato Soup

5 potatoes (washed, peeled, cubed)

3 large carrots (washed, peeled, sliced)

1 medium onion, cubed

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

dash of cayenne

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried thyme

32 oz. chicken broth; reserve 1/2 cup (you can use veggie broth to make it a vegetarian meal)


Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottom pot on medium-med/high heat. Add the onions and carrots, cook 1-2 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, salt, oregano, thyme, pepper, cayenne, cook 3-5 minutes stirring to incorporate all ingredients. Using a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits that may begin to stick to the bottom of the pan–add some broth to help with this process. Slowly add the rest of the broth (not the reserved portion). Bring the broth and veggies up to a boil. On a low boil, continue to cook until the carrots and potatoes are fork tender, stirring occasionally. Take the soup off of the heat. At this point you have  few options: 1) use an immersion blender to blend the soup to a smooth, silky texture–add the reserved broth if needed to thin out the soup to your preference ; 2) remove half of the soup mixture and blend in a blender or food processor, return soup back to the pot and add reserved broth–this will result in a more rustic, chunkier style soup.  I used option # 1 because I prefer smooth, creamy-like soups…but either way the result will be tasty!

Be creative with the soup toppings: your favorite cheese, crumbled bacon, fresh parsley, etc.

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The forecast for the Northeast….more soup weather! We’ve had a few really nice days lately but the cold chill is back in the air. In my effort to eat fresh and budget friendly the only option until spring is to take advantage of the plethora of root vegetables that are readily available in the supermarket. This recipe is thick, creamy, and has tons of flavor–without the actual calories from the cream. The boiled potatoes thicken up the soup  nicely and the lowfat milk is sufficient for giving the soup that velvety texture of regular cream-based versions.  Not to mention if you are cleaning out your cupboard and come across leftover canned pumpkin from Thanksgiving, this is a go-to idea for using it up (alternatively try my pumpkin bread recipe).

Creamy Root Veggie Soup

Roasting the root veggies before adding them into the soup intensifies the flavor and adds a rich caramelized not to the soup. This soup is perfect for a cold, late winter day but flavorful enough to remind you that spring is near!

Root Vegetable Soup


1 lb parsnips, peeled and large diced/cubed

1 lb carrots, peeled  and large diced/cubed

2 tsp Kosher salt

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp garam masala (or use 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp dried oregano)

olive oil

4 medium sized russet potatoes

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin spice)

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 package of Hidden Valley Dill dry mix

1/2 cup milk


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix parsnips, carrots, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garam masala in a large bowl until mixed well. Place onto a baking sheet in a single layer–roast in oven for approximately 25-30 minutes until slightly browning at edges. Meanwhile, boil potatoes in a large pot in water until fork tender. Add roasted vegetables, boiled potatoes, butter, and pumpkin back into large heavy bottom pot and mash with a potato masher until well blended and slightly chunky. Place over medium low heat and begin to add chicken broth slowly, add Dill mix and stir until well blended. Use an immersion blender to blend ingredients until smooth (you can also blend the soup in batches in a blender and return to the pot when smooth). Add milk or cream, continue to stir on medium low heat. If the soup is to thick feel free to add warm water 1/4 cup at a time until desired soup consistency is achieved. Serve warm.  Feel free to add a dash of red hot to spice it up or a sprinkling of your favorite shredded cheese on top for that extra richness! Makes 8-10 servings–feel free to freeze leftovers!

This soup pairs perfectly with caramelized honey mustard bacon.

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