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Posts tagged ‘sage’

Butternut Squash, Sage & Buffalo Mozzarella Lasagna


We’re back at our house in Waterford after spending nearly two weeks at our family home in North Tipperary for the holidays (where we have no internet and fewer TV channels but do have more time for friends, family and food). I’ll miss the busy country house with the constant background chatter of my in-laws, but here in Waterford it’s quieter, which means Maeve is sleeping more soundly, and we have an excellent internet connection here, allowing me to Skype with family and friends back home in Canada.

Enjoying Canadian Winter on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa

Enjoying Canadian Winter on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa

The weather has been up and down in Ireland – though certainly not as bad as the ridiculous snow-stormy weather they’ve been having in Canada – we have had a few blustery, rainy, cold days (especially in Tipperary, where it always seems much colder than Waterford). I missed having a white Christmas just a little bit, but I’m happy to not have to shovel my way to the car every morning.

As for New Year’s, my husband and I relaxed on the couch with a bottle of Beaujolais and watched the second half of Falling for a Dancer, which is an excellent two-part film, and The Graham Norton New Year’s Eve Special, which was hilarious. Flashback a few years ago when we’d be spending New Year’s in Seoul partying in nightclubs until 7 am and you can see how different our lives have become (for the record, I think it’s nicer). We’re looking forward to 2014 – to travel, to making some healthier lifestyle changes, and taking the time to enjoy our family and our surroundings. Happy New Year to you all!

Puppies! The best picture I could get of them...

Puppies! The best picture I could get of them…

We’re also expecting another addition to our little family. No, not a new baby (before any of you get unnecessarily excited). At least, not a new human baby. On the farm, we’ve been gifted with six gorgeous collie pups, sired by our faithful farm dog, Ben. There are three girls and three boys – they all look like their dad with soft, black and white fur. Hopefully they all inherit their dad’s gentle temperament, as well. We’ll be taking one of the girls and raising her not as a farm dog, but as a pet, and we’ll call her Erin.

We introduced Erin to Maeve briefly this morning and Erin growled. But eventually they’ll like each other; I have faith.


To ring in the new year, here’s a vegetarian lasagna recipe made with béchamel, butternut squash, sage and buffalo mozzarella. It’s not entirely diet-friendly, but we’re thinking of it as one of our final, creamy indulgences before our diet begins on Monday. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. I made my own pasta for this recipe, but feel free to use store-bought lasagna sheets. If you do want to make your own pasta but don’t have a pasta roller, just make sure the dough is so thin you can see through it. Like, paper-thin.


Butternut Squash, Sage & Buffalo Mozzarella Lasagna 


For the pasta:

4 eggs

2 cups flour

For the béchamel:

1/2 cup butter

1/2-3/4 cup flour

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, lightly crushed

1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)

2 1/2 cups whole milk

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

salt and pepper, to taste

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

For the lasagna:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled & seeded

2 balls fresh buffalo mozzarella

1 cup caramelized onion (store bought or homemade)

1 recipe béchamel sauce

1 recipe pasta dough


  • Make the pasta dough: pile the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly. Add the eggs into the well in the flour.
  • Using your fingers, gently work the flour into the eggs until you have a sticky dough. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it’s smooth, elastic and bounces back slightly when you make a dent with your finger.
  • Shape the dough into a ball. Set the dough aside and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Make the béchamel: in a saucepan, heat the milk and cream with the bay leaf and crushed clove of garlic until almost boiled. In another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add enough flour to the butter to make a dry paste, similar in consistency to play doh (also called a roux). Cook the roux for one minute. Strain the hot milk/cream mixture over the roux and stir immediately. Whisk out any lumps. Continue to stir over medium heat until the sauce has thickened. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  • Prepare the butternut squash: using a potato peeler, peel the entire butternut squash so you have long ribbons of squash. Set aside.
  • Slice each buffalo mozzarella in half. Finely chop the fresh sage. Set both aside.
  • Prepare the pasta: using a knife, cut the ball of dough into four equal portions. Roll the pasta out using a pasta roller or with a rolling pin on a well floured surface. Roll each portion of dough to fit your lasagna tray.
  • Assemble the lasagna: smear a ladle-full of béchamel on the bottom of the tray. Place one sheet of pasta over the top. Evenly spread 1/4 of the butternut squash ribbons over the top of the lasagna sheet, followed by 1/2 of one of the balls of mozzarella (just tear the mozzarella and spread it out over the squash). Sprinkle a bit of sage and some caramelized onion over the top, followed by a ladle of bechamel (try to spread it evenly over everything). Top this with another sheet of pasta and repeat the process. When the last sheet of lasagna is added, spread a bit of béchamel over the top and sprinkle more cheese and sage.
  • Bake in a 375 (190 degree Celsius) oven for an hour. Serve with a fresh spinach or rocket salad.



Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Lemon Ricotta & Zucchini Pasta


We’ve been enjoying some beautifully sunny days here in Waterford (excluding today – I woke up to grey skies and low temperatures) and the past week has made me feel like summer is truly on it way. Even though, in Ireland, summer technically starts in May. I don’t really get it. I guess it has something to do with growing seasons? Explanations are welcomed!

So far, May in Ireland doesn’t feel any different from May in Cape Breton – temperamental weather abounds, where it’s warm and sunny one day and snowing (or hailing) the next. We’ll see how June goes.

I’m getting way off topic here! The point is, we’ve been enjoying sunny and warm weather in Waterford lately and it’s made me crave fresh, summery flavours. Hence, last night’s dinner.

I used to work the pasta station at a busy restaurant in Toronto called O&B Canteen. With the different seasons came our menu changes, and one of my favourite seasonal menu items was the pappardelle with pine nuts, zucchini, lemon, mint and fresh ricotta that we’d get in every morning, still warm, from The Cheese Boutique. We would julienne the zucchini into long strips and quickly bake it in the oven. The zucchini would entangle with the pappardelle and the whole thing tasted so fresh and creamy. Although this was a few years ago, I still crave this flavour combination when the days start to get warm.

I didn’t have time to make fresh pappardelle yesterday (can you believe it?!). I did have some fusilli in the cupboard, so instead of finely slicing the zucchini into strips, I cut them into a medium-small dice to better suit the pasta. I zested a lemon and mixed the zest into the ricotta with a bit of freshly ground pepper, salt and a few drops of habanero hot sauce. I have some gorgeous mint growing in the garden, but I decided not to go with the mint this time, since I was using sage with the chicken (everything in moderation!). I still need to plant a few more herbs – if I had some flat leaf parsley I would have thrown some into the pasta.

The chicken was very simply wrapped in prosciutto with a sage leaf and a smear of garlic mayo. I roasted it at a high temperature to encourage the prosciutto to crisp. Hope you like it!


Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Lemon Ricotta & Zucchini Pasta


For the chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup mayonnaise or aioli

1 clove garlic

3-4 large sage leaves

3-4 slices prosciutto, parma ham or serrano ham (whichever you can find)

Salt and Pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

For the pasta:

500 g dried or fresh pasta (I used fusilli, but any will do)

250 g ricotta cheese

2 tsp hot sauce or chili flakes

Zest of one lemon

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

1 medium-sized zucchini

1-2 cloves garlic


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan).
  • Prepare the chicken: mince one clove of garlic and mix with the mayonnaise or aioli. Smear 1-2 heaping teaspoons on each breast of chicken.
  • Place one sage leaf on each piece of chicken, ensuring it sticks to the mayo.
  • Carefully wrap each breast of chicken in one slice of prosciutto. Place in a baking dish.
  • Add the tomatoes to the baking dish. Sprinkle a few sprigs of fresh thyme over the top, then season lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
  • Prepare the zucchini: wash and cut off both ends of the zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half, then half again. Slice each portion into sticks and then cut into a medium-small dice. Place diced zucchini on a lined baking sheet and lightly season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in the 400 degree oven for approximately 5-8 minutes, until tender but still brightly coloured.
  • Put a pot of water on to boil and place the chicken in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
  • Mix the ricotta cheese with the lemon zest and hot sauce, then season with salt and pepper. Finely dice 1-2 cloves of garlic and set aside.
  • Boil your pasta in salted water until al dente. In a large pan, heat some olive oil and then lightly cook the minced garlic. Add the zucchini and ricotta mixture to the pan and heat through.
  • Strain the pasta and add to the pan. Mix thoroughly with the zucchini and ricotta, then check for seasoning. You shouldn’t have to add any extra salt to this dish if you’ve properly salted your pasta water and seasoned the zucchini and ricotta.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven. Plate the pasta and garnish with the roasted cherry tomatoes. Add the chicken to the plate and pour the pan juices over the top.
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