Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cheesy Pasta Casserole with Squash & Kale

It's another cheesy pasta casserole, with squash and kale this time. This one is more rich and elaborate than the Broccoli Kugel I made last week, and takes longer to make because of needing to pre-cook the squash in particular. However, it is not difficult and could be broken up into sections and made at least partially in advance. I expect it to freeze well; in fact I have made an extra batch and stuck it in the  freezer to form the vegetarian main dish for our Christmas dinner.

If you made this earlier in the season you could use Swiss chard in this, but by now it is pretty much gone and you will need to use kale - nothing wrong with that!

8 servings
2 1/2 hours - 1 3/4 hours prep time

Pre-Cook the vegetables & Pasta:
1 large (1.5 kilos, 3 pounds) butternut squash
4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
3 medium leeks
4 to 5 cloves of garlic
1 bunch kale (or Swiss chard)
250 grams (1/2 pound) stubby pasta

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut the squash into chunks, and peel it and discard the seeds (and by discard, I mean wash them, and toss them with oil and salt and roast them, but that's another dish.) Cut the peeled squash pieces into smallish bite sized pieces, and spread them on a baking tray. Toss them with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Roast for 30 minutes, until fairly soft. Wash the kale and chop it finely, discarding any tough stems.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. 

Meanwhile, wash, trim and chop the leeks, and rinse them again and drain well. Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet, and gently cook the chopped leeks until soft and translucent. Do not let them brown. Add the garlic and stir in well, for just a minute, then remove from the heat.

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook for HALF the time recommended on the package. When there are 2 minutes more for it to cook, add the finely chopped kale. When done, drain and rinse in cold water, and drain well.

Either leave the oven on when the squash is roasted, or preheat it to 350°F again just before you finish the casserole. 

Finish the Casserole:
450 grams (1 pound) cottage cheese
450 grams (1 pound) ricotta cheese
100 grams (1/4 pound) feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons rubbed basil
2 teaspoons rubbed oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
250 grams (1/2 pound) old Cheddar or Colby cheese, grated

When the pasta and kale have been well drained, return them to the cooking pot. Add the roasted squash and the cooked leeks and garlic. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the grated Cheddar or Colby cheese. As usual, the amount of salt will depend on how salty your cheeses are. I do find fresh cheeses need to have some, so maybe about half a teaspoon. Mix well.

Spread the mixture out evenly in a 9" x 13" baking (lasagne) pan. Top with the grated Cheddar or Colby. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cheese on top is bubbling. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Jerusalem Artichoke Caponata.


RuckusButt said...

Looks divine! When freezing - do you freeze it before or after the baking step?

Ferdzy said...

Ruckus, I freeze it before baking it. I also expect to allow 48 hours for it to thaw in the fridge before I bake it. Last time I froze lasagne in the same way, that's how long it took. It may also take a bit longer to bake as it will go into the oven cool rather than still somewhat warm. Because I use glass pans I put it into the oven cold then turn it on and let them warm up together.

Ferdzy said...

p.s. Congrats on your new horse!