I know, I know. I’m the worst.
I haven’t written. I’ve been in a hole of nine-to-five-ing. During the week I’ve been getting up to exercise at 6 am and not getting back home until almost 7 pm.
I’ve been cooking all along, but mostly after the sun is almost gone and there’s no pretty light. The food itself hasn’t been the cutest. It’s been nourishing combinations of vegetables that don’t necessarily look that great, but it’s exactly what I need.
And eggs. There’s been a lot of eggs consumed.
On the weekends, I’ve been cooking too – and even taking a few pictures of the process. But mentally I’ve just been too lazy to put words to paper/screen. That’s real life.
I’m going to do better. I just need to find a new rhythm to my writing, cooking and photography that fits in with my real person job.
It’s a work in progress, but I’ll get there.
With the late summer and early fall weather we’ve gotten both butternut squash and eggplant in our vegetable delivery box for a few weeks in a row. I’ve cooked these two together in quite a few ways – with Moroccan spices in the slow cooker and roasted on a baking sheet. With quinoa, atop a bed of greens, with lashings of sriracha, and with a poached egg on top.
I would never necessarily think to put these two vegetables together, but they’ve been a surprising hit. They’re meaty and filling, complex and satisfying – the butternut squash brings a sweetness and the eggplant, an earthiness.
I thought about calling this a pasta-less lasagna but I landed on Vegetable Bake. The layering aspect along with the ricotta, pesto and tomato sauce is totally reminiscent of lasagna, but calling a pasta-based dish pasta-less is just straight up inconsiderate.
This was a weeknight creation that came out of a full fruit and veg box, some fresh ricotta and a general idea that I wanted something warm, Italian-like, and filled with more vegetables than anything else.
It was a success – and made the perfect lunch for a few days afterward.
Eggplant and Butternut Squash Bake
- olive oil
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 3 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- sea salt
- 1 medium to large eggplant, cut into ¼ inch thick rounds
- ½ a small butternut squash, cut into ¼ inch thick rounds
- 1-2 cups baby spinach
- ¾ cup ricotta
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
To make a quick tomato sauce: eat tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat.
Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Pour in the chopped canned tomatoes, half a cup of water, and sprinkle in oregano. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes while you’re preparing the rest of the vegetables. Season with salt.
Heat oven to 200 C/400 F. Lightly grease an 8×8-baking tray with olive oil baking spray.
In a small bowl mix ricotta with pesto and freshly ground pepper.
Beginning with the tomato sauce on the bottom, layer eggplant, ricotta mixture, butternut squash and a scattering of baby spinach. Repeat layers until you’re at the top of the baking dish. End with a layer of tomato sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with Parmesan and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and the liquid has slightly reduced.
Serve with fresh basil and bread.