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Home / Articles / Santa Fe Guides / Winter Guide /  You're Welcome
hazlenut-pour

You're Welcome

One vegetarian Thanksgiving for one weird family, coming up!

November 10, 2010, 1:00 am

I’m an unapologetic omnivore, but a nice sister and daughter. For Thanksgiving this year, my weird, painfully nontraditional, vegetarian family is flying out to Santa Fe. And I’m not going to sequester them, as the guests of honor—who are also traveling 3,000 miles amid holiday hubbub—to side dishes.


My mom and two sisters are varying degrees of vegetarian and strange. My sister Sheuli suggested we go out for Vietnamese food. I’m not sure that she has ever so much as come near a candied yam nor said the word “stuffing.” My sister Samantha is much more amenable, due to a childhood in which her vegetarianism meant leaving the chicken seasoning out of her Oodles of Noodles. She is, however, very concerned with food politics and is a fair-trade fanatic. My mother isn’t exactly a vegetarian, but she does have an aversion to poultry stemming from a childhood of raising pet chickens that turned into roast chickens. She also is very vocal and irrational about the foods she dislikes (she once told me she doesn’t like apples or the people who eat them).


As nontraditional as my family members and their eating habits are, I thought it would be nice to work some sort of seasonal normalcy—without their knowing, of course—back into the meal. 


To say accommodating these myriad demands is difficult would be kind, but that’s what I wanted: to sit at the same table and eat the same meal—perhaps even enjoy it.


Enter real food enchantress Kim Müller, executive chef at Real Food Nation


Müller and RFN specialize in hearty, local food for all eaters. Each night, RFN serves three choices of entrées: meat, vegetarian and vegan, but never do the latter two seem like afterthoughts. I took the drive down Old Las Vegas Highway to RFN, where I spent a day cooking with the master so I could feed my family.


Müller’s idea for my dilemma: locally sourced hazelnut and butternut squash lasagna, a recipe adapted from epicurious.com (and reprinted below). Many of the ingredients we used were local, if not picked from RFN’s on-site garden. The results of our cooking are a slide show and a seasonally appropriate, widely accommodating meal that tastes like hot-buttered local love. 

Hazelnut and Butternut Squash Lasagna

Squash filling
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into half-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 cup hazelnuts (4 oz) toasted, loose skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel and coarsely chopped


Sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups milk
1 bay leaf (not California)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
freshly grated nutmeg


Assembly
Half lb fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 oz)
12 (7-by-31/2-inch) sheets no-boil lasagne (half lb)

Preparation

Make filling:
Cook onion in butter in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add squash, garlic, salt and white pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley, sage and nuts. Cool filling.

Make sauce while squash cooks:
Cook garlic in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Whisk in salt and white pepper, and remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. (Cover surface of sauce with wax paper if not using immediately.)

Assemble lasagne:
Preheat oven to 425. Toss cheeses together. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a buttered 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish (or other shallow 3-quart baking dish) and cover with 3 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and 1/3 of filling, then sprinkle with a heaping 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times, beginning with pasta sheets and ending with cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce and remaining cheese. Tightly cover baking dish with buttered foil and bake lasagne in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagne stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

 

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