Romaine, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad
Note: Pears and cheese are natural partners; the sweet freshness of the pear enhances the flavor of the cheese. Any type of pear will work, but Boscs are a particularly good match with Gorgonzola. The pear should be just ripe, but not soft. From Meredith Deeds.
• 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp. heavy cream
• 1 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
• 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 c. chopped romaine lettuce
• 1/2 medium ripe Bosc pear or crisp apple, cored and thinly sliced
• 1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion, rinsed briefly under cold water
• 1/4 c. crumbled Gorgonzola
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, cream, shallots, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil.
In a medium bowl, add romaine lettuce, pears, red onion and 3 tablespoons dressing. Toss to coat. Transfer to two serving plates. Scatter the crumbled Gorgonzola over the top. Serve immediately.
Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagna With Brown Butter Béchamel
Note: Brown butter creates an intoxicating aroma and flavor in this scaled-down but sophisticated lasagna. From Meredith Deeds.
• 1 small butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lb.), peeled and cut into 1-in. cubes (about 14 oz. trimmed)
• 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
• 1 to 2 tsp. brown sugar, or as needed
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 2 tbsp. flour
• 1 1/4 c. whole milk
• 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
• 1 large onion, thinly sliced
• 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 1 tbsp. water
• 4 fresh or dried lasagna sheets
• 3/4 c. shredded Fontina cheese
• 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
• 2 tbsp. chopped toasted hazelnuts, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl, toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; arrange on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, stir and continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Taste and add more salt and/or a teaspoon or two of brown sugar if the squash needs more flavor.
Meanwhile, in small (1-quart) saucepan, heat butter on medium for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned and fragrant, swirling often. Stir in flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring continuously. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce comes to a simmer and is thickened. Remove from heat.
In a medium skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion begins to brown. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is deeply golden brown, about 8 to 10 more minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon water and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift any browned bits, until liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat.
Working in batches, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 30 seconds. (If using dried noodles, cook until al dente.) Transfer noodles to a large rimmed baking sheet as you go. Do not overlap.
Grease a 9- by 4-inch loaf pan or small baking dish. Place one lasagna sheet in the bottom of the dish and top with 1/3 of the squash and 1/3 of the onions. Spread 1/4 of béchamel sauce over squash, then top with 1/3 of Fontina. Repeat layering twice. Top with the remaining lasagna sheet. Spread remaining sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven, until top is golden brown. Sprinkle hazelnuts over the top. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Dark Chocolate Orange Pots de Crème
Note: A chocolate lover's dream, this decadent dessert is a special treat that's quick and easy to make. If preferred, you can substitute coffee for the orange liqueur in this recipe. This recipe must be made in advance to give it time to chill. From Meredith Deeds.
• 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
• 2 tbsp. orange liqueur
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 egg yolk
• 2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
• 2 strips orange zest (about 3- by 1-in. each)
• 2 tbsp. sugar
• 1/8 tsp. salt
• Whipped cream, if desired
• Thin strips of orange zest, if desired
In a medium bowl, combine chocolate, orange liqueur and vanilla. Place a fine strainer over the bowl. Set aside.
In a small (1-quart) saucepan, bring the cream and orange strips to a simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes.
Place the egg yolk in a small, heatproof bowl. Set aside.
Remove orange strips from cream and discard them. Add sugar and salt to cream and bring back to a simmer, stirring, over low heat. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg yolk. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, just until hot and slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Do not overcook.
Immediately pour the hot cream mixture through the strainer, into the chocolate mixture. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into two small dessert bowls or espresso cups. Chill, covered, for 2 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and orange zest, if desired.