Potato Butternut Squash Au Gratin with Sage Pesto and Toasted Hazelnuts

 This dish is a nice twist on an au gratin.  I love how the hazelnuts add a nice crunchy top and the butternut squash lightens it up while the sage pesto brings on a whole new richness.

I wanted to make a au gratin that was a bit lighter and healthier than the classic style.  Although it still has cheese and a little butter I used 1% milk instead of half and half and hazelnuts instead of bread crumbs.

Potato-Butternut-Squash-Au-Gratin

Gratins originated in France.  It is a dish that has a golden crust on top typically from the addition of either bread crumbs or cheese and are served in a shallow casserole dish.

Potato-Butternut-Squash-Au-Gratin-with-Sage-Pesto-

This gratin goes with a Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Verdejo, Rose, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Red Rioja or a Petite Sirah

 Recipe: 8 – 10 Servings
Toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 Cup Toasted Hazelnuts – ground (can substitute almonds or panko bread crumbs)
 Sage Pesto – About 1 Cup
  • 1 Cups Fresh Sage
  • 1/2 Cup Toasted Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Asiago Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1  Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoons Sea Salt or to taste

Casserole

  • 1 1/2 lbs Yellow Potatoes – 1/8 inch slices (about 5 cups sliced) discard the ends
  • 1 lbs Butternut Squash – 1/8 inch slices (about 5 cups sliced) I used the neck only
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Rice Flour
  • 2 1/2 Cups Milk (I used 1% organic)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Cup + 1/2 Cup Gruyère Cheese – shredded and divided
  • 1 Cup + 1/4 Cup Pecorino Romano – finely shredded and divided

Instructions:

 Toast hazelnuts, remove skins and let cool.

 In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts into a fine crumble.

 Make the pesto

Slice the potatoes and set aside in a bowl of water.

 Peal the squash and cut the neck into thin slices (I use a kitchen scale, if you don’t have one you will have to put your gratin together and if you need more use the bottom, cut in half and scoop out the seeds then thinly slice.

 Grate the cheese, mix 1 cup each of grayer and of pecorino, put in a bowl and set aside

 Mix the remaining 1/2 cup grayer, 1/4 cup pecerino and the hazelnuts together then set aside.

 Mince the shallots and garlic, add to a large heavy saucepan, sauté in olive oil over medium-low heat, stirring until the onion is softened and the garlic starts to brown (about 10 – 12 minutes).

 Add the wine and let reduce to a syrup.

 Next, add the butter and salt to the onions. When butter is melted, stir in the flour and cook the mixture, continue to stir for about 2 minutes.

 Add the milk a little at a time (this is important) while whisking constantly and bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the cheese a little at time and stir until the cheese is completely melted.  Add the pesto and mix in completely.

Drain potatoes and pat dry with kitchen towels.

Set aside 1 cup of sauce to make sure you have enough for the top two layers.

Spread a thin layer of sauce in 2 1/2-quart casserole dish.  Layer potatoes (if you have some that are thicker than 1/8 inch place them on the outside and the thinner pieces in the middle)  then spread a thin coat sauce over the potatoes then layer squash and repeat until the last two layers.  With the 1 cup of sauce you set aside, pour half over second to last layer then add last layer and pour the rest of the sauce over.

 Pre heat oven to 375

 Bake uncovered 1 hour on the middle shelf.  (I put a baking sheet below to catch any juices that overflow)

 Check on it at 45 minutes and push down the top potato slices with a spoon to let juices cover potatoes again.

 Mix remaining cheese and the ground hazelnuts together then sprinkle over potatoes.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes longer or until top is brown and bubbly.

 Poke a knife thru the center to make sure potatoes are soft, if not bake a bit longer.  (You can put some foil on top if you don’t want it any darker on top.)

 Let sit in a warm place for 20 minutes before serving so that the liquids will set.  (Depending on how old your squash is, it may produce some water)

Potato-Butternut-Squash-Au-Gratin-

Health Benefits:

 Yellow Potatoes – Yukon gold’s content of potassium is higher than many foods and can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. They have twice the amount of vitamin C as a Russet, which helps protects your cells from free-radical damage. Yukon’s are rich in B6 and antioxidant properties. It has a bit of Iron but the C helps the body absorb it. They contain fiber that helps reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps prevent constipation and aids in weight loss,

Butternut Squash is a great source of fiber and folate making it heart and bowel healthy it has an abundance of carotenoids that is great for eye health and also helps protect against heart disease and very high levels of beta-carotene.  It regulates blood sugar levels helping to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and increasing energy levels.  It has a significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 which is great for the nervous and immune systems.  A 1-cup serving gives about half the recommended amount of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.  Winter squash also helps in the prevention of prostate, colon, lung & breast cancers.

Sage helps to enhances concentration, attention span and quickens the senses.  Its effects help deal with grief and depression.  It is useful for all types of bacterial infections.  Helps detoxify and cleanse the blood.  The herb reportedly restores color to gray or white hair.  It is also high in antioxidants. Sage is exceptionally rich source of several B-complex, it contains a very good amounts of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and C It is a rich sources of minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium *Those with epilepsy, high blood pressure, or kidney disease may be adversely affected by the thujone content and should avoid large doses of sage Other posts

Coconut Basil French Green Lentil Soup

This soup is a “warming of the soul” kind of soup, with its subtle flavors of Indian spice.  The fresh basil, cilantro and lime gives it a nice fresh depth of flavor.

Coconut-Milk-and-Basil-French-Green-Lentil-Soup

This is a versatile soup.  You can leave it as is or puree it with the kale, basil and cilantro or puree and add them after.  You could also puree half and mix it back in.

French-Green-Lentil-Soup-with-Coconut-Milk-and-Basil

I like this soup with a dry or ever slightly sweet white wine like a Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc or a white Rioja.

French-Green-Lentil-Coconut-Milk-and-Basil-Soup

Recipe: 6 – 8 Servings

  • 2 Cups French Green Lentils
  • 8 Cups Filtered Water (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Onion – diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced or pressed
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Bullion Cube – unsalted (omit if using vegetable stock)
  • 1 Tablespoon Turmeric
  • 1Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Gram Marsala
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayanne Pepper
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk – full fat
  • 3/4 Cup Fresh Basil – or to taste- minced
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro – or to taste- minced
  • 2 Cups Kale – about 6 leaves – rib removed, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice – or to taste
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper – or to taste

Instructions:

In a large 5 1/2 quart pot, add the lentils, rinse thoroughly and strain.  Add the lentils back to the pot, add the water and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium for 20 – 25 minutes or until lentils are soft but not mushy.

 While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic stirring frequently until onions are soft and translucent and the garlic is slightly caramelized, about 10 – 12 minutes.

 Add the bullion and wine; reduce until wine is syrupy about 2 minutes.

Add onion mixture to the pot of lentils and add the spices, coconut milk, basil, cilantro, kale (wash the kale and tear off main rib by holding the end of the stem and sliding off the leaves then chop in to thin strips), lime, salt and pepper.

 Bring to a boil then turn down to medium and cook another 10 minutes, or until hot.

_Green-Lentil-Coconut-Milk-and-Basil-Soup

Health benefits:

Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health.  They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K.  They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zea-xanthin an anti-oxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to you water or tea.

Mexican Style Lime Poblano Roasted Potatoes

These potatoes are so flavor packed and a perfect side dish for any Mexican inspired meal!

Robby can’t get enough of my Greek style roasted potatoes and we both absolutely love Mexican food so I thought why not try a Mexican style roasted potatoes.  Let me tell you, they are outstanding.

I had a Verdejo from the Rueda region of Spain, which was delicious!  It would also pair well with a white Rioja, Pinot Noir or a light Mexican beer.

Recipe: 4 – 6 Servings
  • 2 1/2 lb. Yukon Potatoes – (about 5 medium sized)

Marinade

  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice (about 2 /1/2 )
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White or Rose` Wine
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/4 Cup Red Onion – minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt

Cheese mix

  • 1/2 Cup Queso Fresca Cheese – crumbled
  • 2 Poblano Peppers – roasted and diced
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeño – minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro Leaves – minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Garnish options

  • Cilantro chopped and added to the top
  • Queso Fresca
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Avacado

Instructions:

Cut the potatoes into small cubes and place in cold filtered water until marinade is made

Make the marinade, in a jar measure all ingredients, mince garlic and onion and mix together

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees

In a 9′ by 13 inch glass baking dish mix the marinade with the potatoes, stirring to coat all the potatoes

Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes (always use a timer)

While potatoes are baking roast the poblano peppers

Mix the queso fresca mixture by breaking the queso fresca up with a fork then stir in remaining ingredients and put in the refrigerator

When the timer goes off carefully take the potatoes out of the oven and stir well then put back into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 more minutes

When the potatoes have cooked the full hour take out of the oven

Mix in the queso fresca mixture into the potatoes and put back into the oven on the very top rack and bake for 20 more minutes.

You can also prepare the potatoes the day before and bake the last 20 minutes when you plan to eat them (You may need to bake for 30 minutes if they are fresh out of the refrigerator to get them hot enough).

Mince the cilantro and sprinkle on top of each serving

* I often make the marinade, roast the peppers and make the cheese mix the day before

Roasted Jalapeno Poblano Pesto

This pesto has so much flavor with a serious punch of spiciness!

Roasted-Jalapeno-Poblano-Pesto

I made this pesto with a cheese from Spain called Queso Iberico.  It is made from a mixture of cow, sheep, and goat’s milk.  It is a fairly rich cheese that is nutty and slightly sweet.  If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it!  It is great on a cheese platter.

 I ate this pesto with some walnuts, crackers and Mahón cheese.  Mahón cheese also comes from Spain and is a delightful creamy cheese. The skin is bright orange from being rubbed with butter or oil and paprika.  I love how the saltiness comes from the sea salt content in the grasses that the cows eat.

This pesto is also great on sandwiches or tossed in a salad.

Roasted-Jalapeno-and-Poblano-Pesto

I like this with a bubbly wine like Cava, Prosecco or a sparkling Rosé.

Roasted-Poblano-Jalapeno-Pesto

Recipe: Approx. 2 Cups

  • 1 Poblano Pepper – roasted
  • 3 Jalapeño Peppers – roasted
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Iberico Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste

Instructions:

 Roast the poblano pepper on the stove and the jalapeno peppers in the oven.

Let peppers cool and de-stem and de-seed

Finely shred the cheese and measure all ingredients then put everything in a food processor or blender and puree

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