recipe: spinach and mushroom rolls with butternut squash puree

Cooking with the wife is one of the weekly events I most look forward to. Our time crafting culinary ideas is both a bonding experience and outlet for us and even if we’re not both able to fit into our tiny kitchen corner to work side by side some element of the task is shared (apart from the eating of course!)

She found the concept for this recipe on line but because we cannot do anything as instructed it quickly became a team effort in personalizing it for our pantry and tastes. As we were preparing the dish the entire apartment took on the wonderful feel of winter with the warmth of the oven and the scents of the spices. Cocktails, music from our youth and who knows what kind of crazy conversational topics rolled the evening up into a memory almost as good as the tasty rolls we created.

There are a lot of substitutions for time you can make with this recipe and any number of variations in it that influence the flavors and that’s part of why this is a keeper for us. The more ways we can manipulate it based on what’s available without losing the general idea of what it is the better. For example, the butternut squash can be fresh that you roast and puree yourself or frozen or some other winter squash you enjoy. The spinach can be baby fresh or whole leaf frozen or some other dark leafy green you enjoy instead. Same with the cremini mushrooms becoming white button or shitiakki, the mozzarella cheese as munster, and even your choices of spices for the whole thing.

It’s several steps to get to the final meal but don’t let the process intimidate you we did a lot of the parts in parallel which I’ve outlined separately below.

Butternut squash (in small roasted cubes or already pureed)
yellow onion
garlic clove
Pumpkin Pie spice (something like 2:1:1:1:1:1 Cinnamon, Nutmeg, All Spice, Ginger, Paprika, sage)
cracked pepper
olive oil
veggie stock
apple cider vinegar
a pot

finely chop the onion
with a small amount of oil sweat the onion till translucent and soft
crush garlic and add to the onions
Add the butternut squash to the pot with the onions and garlic
Season with the pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper
Add some stock and a few table spoons of vinegar
Allow the butternut squash to cook down to be complete soft, if you began with puree this will take no time at all, if you are starting from roasted or pre-cooked cubes it’ll take much longer
Add additional stock and reseason as necessary
Use an immersion blender (or carefully do this in a blender or food processor) to complete the puree and allow to continue to simmer over very low heat until ready to use

yellow onion
crimini mushrooms
garlic clove
olive oil
cracked pepper
Italian seasoning (something like 2:2:2:1:1 dried basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, red pepper flake)
cast iron skillet or other sautee pan

rinse and chop the spinach
dice the onion (small pieces)
wipe clean the mushrooms and dice (or thinly slice)
heat the cast iron pan to medium and lightly coat in oil
add the mushrooms and onion and saute till the mushrooms have given up most of their moisture and the onions are translucent-to-starting to caramelize
Crush garlic and add to the pan
Season with pepper, salt and italian seasoning
Add the spinach to the pan, incorporate with everything else and saute
Remove from heat / allow to cool a bit

ricotta cheese
Pecorino Romano
Italian seasoning (something like 2:2:2:1:1 dried basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, red pepper flake)
spinach and mushroom mixture
mixing bowl

Fold together the ricotta, pecorino and seasoning in the mixing bowl
whisk the egg into the cheese mixture as a binder
Fold in the spinach and mushroom mixture into the cheese, make sure it’s not too hot when you do

lasagna noodels (the kind you have to cook not the “instant” kind)
salted (and seasoned) water
large stock pot

the cheese, mushroom and spinach mixture
the butternut squash puree
mozzarella (shredded)
Pecorino Romano
large baking dish
preheated 350 degree oven

Bring the salted water to a boil
Add 2-4 lasagna noodles to the pot at a time, making sure they do not stick together and do not get damaged
Allow to cook until al dente, so not fully to the package instructions (about 8-9 minutes was our time)
Remove carefully from the pot

Lay the noodles flat (it might help to do this on parchment paper so they don’t stick) and spoon a thin layer of the mushroom/spinach/cheese mixture over one side of the noodle.
Carefully roll the noodle up (longwise like a carpet)

In the baking dish spread a thin layer of the butternut puree
place the rolled up noodles in the dish
cover them with a layer of squash puree
cover with the shredded moz
add more of the of the puree
sprinkle with Pecorino Romano
bake for 15-20 minutes

allow to cool (for the cheese to set up) and then serve


About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny:
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