Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guest Post: Baker's Corner Somewhere in my Kitchen

The lovely and very talented Dajana from Bakers Corner Somewhere In My Kitchen kindly agreed to do a guest post for us, she lives in Italy with her two gorgeous kids and her husband, and can speak many languages and write them, her blog is fantastic you will love it.

I was so happy and excited when Rebecca, from Chow and Chatter, a dietitian and a mom of a beautiful little princess, asked me to write a guest post for her.
The plan I had for lunch last Sunday was just perfect.
I had bought lots of veggies the day before, and I knew I wanted to use my three flowers (cauliflower, broccoli and Romanesco broccoli) for something special.
What's more perfect for a Sunday family lunch than a lasagna?
My flowers fit in perfectly, combined with a delicious cheese sauce, instead of bechamel sauce, they were a real treat and yet quite light. We were going to a birthday party later that afternoon and didn't want to feel heavy.
Here's just some information about them. I like to know why certain foods are good for me, not only that they are good for something:

Broccoli is high in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as dietary fiber; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. A high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer and is beneficial in the prevention of heart disease.
The benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled more than ten minutes, and it is better to steam, microwave or stirfry them in order not to reduce the benefits of anticancer properties.

Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C, possessing a very high nutritional density. Like broccoli, cauliflower contains anticancer compounds. Cauliflower can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw. The florets should be broken into similar-sized pieces so they are cooked evenly. After eight minutes of steaming, or five minutes of boiling, the florets should be soft, but not mushy (depending on size).

Romanesco Broccoli (or Roman Cauliflower or broccoflower or coral broccoli) is a variety of cauliflower. It is rich in vitamin C, fiber, and carotenoids. The texture is more tender than cauliflower, making it suited to raw use as crudités.

The Stracchino cheese is a fresh, soft Italian cheese, but nothing like ricotta or cream cheese. It's a bit gooey and it melts perfectly in cooking. It's used as a dessert cheese, but also put on focaccia or pizza, or to stuff piadina. It can be introduced into kids' diet at an early stage, because it's natural, without preservatives.

(*medium difficulty ** 2 servings / 345 cal per serving)

4 sheets of pasta for lasagna
1 zucchini
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
200 g broccoli
100 g cauliflower (I used both white and green or Romanesce cauliflower) 1/2 onion
200 g strachino cheese
100 ml milk
50 g grated Grana or Parmigiano cheese
extra virgin olive oil

If you're using dry pasta, boil it for a couple minutes and let dry.
I used fresh pasta and didn't boil it but used directly and it cooked perfectly.
Cut the cleaned/washed zucchini, the carrot, and celery into small cubes.

Separate the broccoli and cauliflowers into smallest florets.

Chop finely the onion and saute with 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a deep skillet. Add the zucchini, the carrot and celery and stirfry for 5 minutes.

Add the white cauliflower florets and continue to stirfry.

After 5 more minutes add the broccoli and the green cauliflower. Salt to taste.

Cook covered for about 10 minutes at medium-low heat, adding 2 tablespoons of water occasionally, so that the vegetables cook slowly but do not get mushy or overcooked.
Combine the stracchino cheese with milk and 15 g grated cheese, and a pinch of salt, and process with an immersion blender until smooth.

Oil a deep baking dish (mine is 20x15 cm) and spread some vegetables and a little cheese sauce.

Place one sheet of pasta, top with 1/3 of vegetables

and some cheese sauce. Sprinkle generously with grated parmigiano cheese.

Continue in this order until you've finished all ingredients. Finish with the cheese sauce and grated Parmigiano on top.

Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for about 25 minutes.

Let it cool a little before serving.


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