Stack veggies in favor of flavor

Cooking for Two

March 09, 2003|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Special to the Sun

You see it everywhere: layers of shirts, jackets and coats. Layers add color and texture to fashion. But long before the layered look hit the closet, it was an essential part of cooking. After all, what is lasagna if not a layered dish? The dish of alternating noodles, meat sauce and cheese is popular because you get variety in every forkful.

You might think layered food is best left to restaurant chefs, but just as you've taken layered fashions from magazines and made them your own, you can do so with food. To make butternut squash "lasagna," choose a long-necked vegetable. The neck or crook of the vegetable has meat without the seeds. Make thick slices so the squash doesn't fall apart during baking. Do this in advance and reheat to make assembly easy. At mealtime, prepare a mix of sausage and vegetables, pile between squash slices and layer in flavor.

Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.

Butternut Squash "Lasagna"

Makes 2 servings

1 medium butternut squash

maple syrup

1 tablespoon oil

1 small zucchini, pared and diced small

1 cup coarsely chopped shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1/2 pound maple-flavored bulk sausage

1/4 teaspoon hot curry powder

1/4 cup marinara pasta sauce

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

freshly ground pepper

Cut off top inch of squash. Cut the rest of the squash into 4 ( 3/4 -inch-thick) slices. Place on buttered baking sheet. Brush all 4 slices with maple syrup. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 15 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat oil in medium skillet. Add zucchini, shiitake mushrooms and red bell pepper and saute over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes. Add sausage and break up with back of spoon. Crumble and brown. Add curry powder, pasta sauce, chopped green onions and fresh pepper to taste and heat through.

When squash is tender, assemble lasagna. Remove peel from squash. Place 1 squash slice on each of 2 plates. Top each with 1/4 of the sausage mixture. Top with second squash slice, then add leftover sausage mixture.

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