With so much of the U.S. enduring sub-zero or single digit temperatures this week, I think we've all earned some serious comfort food. Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise are ready to thaw out your tastebuds with a twist on a family classic from their new cookbook, Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors. With a focus on the multi-ethnic flavors that make up American fusion today, these recipes are sure to brighten up your kitchen.
Deconstructed Lasagne with Creamed Spinach, Chanterelles and Pine Nuts
Oil, for greasing the baking sheet
8 ounces chanterelle mushrooms wiped clean, stem ends trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Kosher or fine sea salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
Creamed Spinach with Chèvre (recipe follows)
12 ounces lasagne noodles
1 large ripe red tomato, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Although first used to descibe a method of critical thinking as applied to interpreting text, deconstructing now simply means dividing something into its components in order to understand its whole. Deconstructed lasagne follows the theme. It’s a facile assembly, no architectonic building required. The elements are cooked separately, gently tossed together and served on a platter. It’s a family dish of the highest order.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Spread the chanterelles in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place in the oven and roast until they are beginning to dry out and turn golden, about 15 minutes. Spread the pine nuts on the baking sheet, keeping them separate from the chanterelles, and toast until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside.
3. Make the creamed spinach
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Break the lasagne sheets into approximately 4-by-1-inch pieces, add to the water, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Add the chanterelles and toss to mix. Gently stir in the creamed spinach, tomato, and mozzarella and season with salt. Transfer to a large platter or serving bowl, sprinkle the pine nuts over the top, and serve right away.
Creamed Spinach with Chèvre
Creamed spinach is a standard side dish in classic steak houses and seafood restaurants. It is often deemed velvety enough with just the spinach and cream. Other times a little tarragon, nutmeg, or a touch of dill is added. To unite a scattered lasagne, creamed spinach gussied up with goat cheese is a smart choice. It also makes a tempting filling for ravioli or blanket for broiled whole mushrooms. Soft goat cheeses vary widely on the mild-to-tangy taste spectrum. For creamed spinach, choose one that is at the tangy end.
Makes 2 cups
1 pound fresh baby spinach, leaves and tender stems only
1 tablespoon butter
1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup soft goat cheese, at room temperature
Kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground black or white pepper
1. Rinse and drain the spinach and place it, still wet, in a large pot over medium-high heat or in a microwave-safe bowl on high and cook, stirring once or twice, until thoroughly wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes either way. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you can and finely chop the spinach.
2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and goat cheese and whisk until smooth and beginning to boil and thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Serve right away or set aside and reheat briefly before using.