Cheesy Lentil Bolognese Casserole + Celebrating 9 years!! — Oh She Glows

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Oh She Glows just celebrated her 9th birthday! Can you believe it? (I know, I know, where is the cake? I didn’t plan this very well, did I? I promise you today’s recipe is a keeper even if it’s not covered in frosting. Do you think cheese-covered will do the trick?!)

Many moons ago, in October 2008, Eric looked at me and said, “Ange, you need a hobby!” I was hunched in front of my computer poring over research. We’d just returned from our honeymoon, and I was already stressed out over all the catch-up work that was waiting for me at home.

At the time, I was a master’s student wrapping up my thesis, and also working full-time as a researcher. To say I was feeling burned out is an understatement. I definitely hadn’t been making time for fun. When Eric asked me what hobbies I had, I honestly couldn’t think of anything outside my daily gym sessions. “I’m not sure if working out counts….” he’d say. My only downtime was a weekly night out at a local bar—hardly restorative, though it did feel that way briefly! So I took Eric’s advice (a rare occurrence, he says), and that same week hit publish on my very first Oh She Glows blog post!

This blog became a place for me to have fun, explore, write my heart out, try new things, and just get out of “research mode” for a bit. Still, I expected that I would blog for a couple weeks and grow tired of it, but I tapped into something that had been hiding deep below the surface for many, many years…my creativity! OH, HELLO. I couldn’t recall the last time I had really allowed my creative self to flourish. Once I’d awoken the creative beast inside, there was no stopping me. (Eric, did you have any idea what you’d be getting yourself into?!)

Soon it became clear that this unsuspecting hobby had grown into a full-fledged passion. I found the courage to write about my journey with disordered eating and how I was working on a positive relationship with food. By practicing every day, I taught myself how to cook and photograph my food (so I could inspire you to make it too!), and eventually became confident enough to experiment with my own recipes. Nine years later, one of my favourite things to do is cook and try new things in the kitchen. I always joke that I rarely follow my own recipes because I have too much fun playing around with them, and so they’ll often turn out differently each time. To me, that’s when it gets really fun! That said, there are some recipes I like to follow to a T…like my favourite cookies. I take my treats very seriously. Bahaha.

So, thanks Eric, for seeing all those years ago that I needed to give myself some time for creativity. I can’t imagine my life without this space, and all of you. The connections and friendships I’ve made through Oh She Glows have been the happiest surprise of all.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Taste Canada’s annual Awards Gala, where I was honoured to receive two gold awards for food writing (one for Health and Special Diets Cookbook of the year for my latest cookbook, Oh She Glows Every Day, and a second recognizing Oh She Glows as best Health and Special Diets Food Blog 2017). Thinking back over the past 9 years, it all feels surreal. I had so many inspiring conversations and left that evening even more grateful for this community and what I do.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Here’s to discovering new hobbies, chasing dreams, and, hopefully, another 9 years!!

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Yield
8 servings
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch All-Purpose Cheese Sauce
  • 14 ounces (400 g) fusilli or rotini pasta (about 4 1/2 cups dry pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced (about 2 cups/280 g)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce/255 g) package sliced cremini mushrooms*
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano**
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil**
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme**
  • 3 cups (750 mL) chunky marinara sauce***
  • One (14-ounce/398 mL) can lentils, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) runny tahini
  • 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 to 2 cups (40 to 80 g) stemmed and finely chopped kale (optional)
  • Paprika, for garnish
  • Cashew-Garlic Parmesan, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Oil a very large casserole dish (approx. 10″ x 14″) and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Prepare the cheese sauce. While the potatoes and carrots simmer for the cheese sauce, start on steps 3 and 4.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Be sure not to overcook it. Drain and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or pot (about 5 quarts), add the oil, onion, and garlic. Stir and add a pinch of salt. Sauté over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent.
  5. Stir in the mushrooms, oregano, basil, and thyme, and cook for another 7 to 9 minutes over medium-high heat until the water cooks off.
  6. Add the marinara sauce, drained lentils, and tahini. Stir until combined. Now add the cooked pasta and continue stirring until it’s coated in the lentil-veggie mixture.
  7. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir in the kale, if desired. Turn off the heat.
  8. Spoon all of the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole dish and spread it out evenly.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce over top and spread it out with the back of a spoon until it covers the entire surface. Garnish with paprika (it adds a beautiful pop of red), more herbs, and black pepper, if desired.
  10. Bake the casserole uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through. (If you’re baking the casserole straight from the fridge, bake it for 25 to 30 minutes as it’ll take longer to heat up). Serve immediately with a generous sprinkle of Cashew-Garlic Parmesan on top of each portion. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The leftovers are just as delicious chilled!

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You can also find this casserole recipe (including the cheese sauce and vegan parmesan) in The Oh She Glows Recipe App (iOS and Android). Happy cooking!

Let’s get social! Follow Angela on Instagram @ohsheglows, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Google+



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Make-Ahead Roasted Butternut Squash Casserole — Oh She Glows

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I posted this story and make-ahead technique to my Instagram account recently, only to be cut off part-way through when I exceeded the word limit. As Stephanie Tanner would say: How rude, lol. Did you even know that Instagram has a word limit? I guess it wasn’t designed for Chatty Cathy’s like me. That’s when it hit me: I should post this on the blog so I can go a bit more in-depth! So read on, my friends….

The other weekend I decided it had been way too long since I had made my beloved roasted butternut squash dish, complete with vegan parmesan…kale…and lots of garlic. Have you made it? Oh my, it’s a show-stealing side I tell ya. (This dish makes all its other dinner companions give the side-eye, heh. #BUTTERNUTPLEASE!)

Here’s a little summary of comments I received when I served it to the fam:

Eric: *Burns mouth.* “Holy sh*t, that’s hot!!!” (He never learns.) Then: “Butternut squash is so much better than pumpkin.” (Lol…so random…I die.)

Adriana, three years old: “NO THANK YOUUUUUUU” (as she skips away with Arlo’s favourite toy in her grasp). Spotted 10 minutes earlier: downing a box of “circle crackers” (sigh).

Arlo, one year old: *Screams and beats his hands in protest because he has to wait for the squash to cool* then proceeds to inhale it. He was nice enough to smash the leftover squash into his hair, and even tossed some over his shoulder for good luck.

Me: *Scream and beat my hands in protest because I have to wait for it to cool* then enjoys two big servings.

You know the saying…as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family. Bahaha.

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MAKE IT AHEAD!

You may have noticed lately that I’ve been on a crusade to create as many time-saving recipes and make-ahead tips as I can. In recent posts, I shared Adriana’s Favourite 10-Minute Pasta, 8-Minute Pantry Dal, and Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Panzanella, to name a few. Last week, I came up with a make-ahead version for one of my favourite side dishes: Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecan Parmesan and Kale! I’m so excited to share how I tweaked the original recipe to minimize day-of prep time. Now that we’re getting into all kinds of holiday celebration meals, my goal is to share as many time-saving tricks with you as I can. It’s making life much less hectic in the Liddon household.

I discovered that this dish can be prepped and stored in the fridge two to three days in advance—and no one will be the wiser! This is a fun trick for holiday meal prep when sanity reaches an all-time low (or is that just me?).

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Here’s what you do:

1) Combine the chopped squash, minced garlic, parsley (not shown in the photo!), oil, and salt in an extra-large casserole dish. Pro tip: if I’m really short on time, I’ll occasionally buy fresh pre-chopped squash to save the hassle of peeling and dicing a large one! Sometimes you just gotta live your best life, ya know?

2) Stem and chop the kale, then place it into a zip bag or container.

3) Make the vegan parmesan, and place that into a separate fridge-friendly container.

PREP WORK DONEZO.

When you’re ready to roast this beauty either later that day or as many as two to three days later, proceed with the recipe as usual…maybe while giving an evil cackle about how you outsmarted the original instructions. I won’t mind.

One thing’s for sure, I’ll be using this trick for all of my future holiday meals, and even busy weeknights! It’s so handy to have everything prepped and ready to go. I hope this tip helps streamline your own holiday meal planning as well. If you’re looking for more crunch-time holiday inspiration, don’t forget to check out my Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Panzanella recipe—it has had some great feedback so far. Oh, and let me know in the comments if you have any make-ahead recipe requests! I’d love to hear them.

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Yield
6 side servings
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the roasted squash:
  • 1 medium/large (2 to 2 1/2 pounds) butternut squash
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups (75 g) stemmed and finely chopped kale*
For the Almond-Pepita Parmesan:
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) whole almonds**
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) roasted pepita seeds**
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Grease an extra-large casserole dish with oil and set aside.
  2. Peel the squash. Thinly slice off the bottom and top and then slice through the middle lengthwise to make two halves. Remove seeds with a spoon. Chop the two halves into 1-inch chunks and place into the oiled casserole dish. (Time-saving tip: buy a couple pounds of pre-chopped fresh butternut squash from the produce section of the grocery store. This was a major game-changer in the Liddon household, let me tell ya!.)
  3. Add the minced garlic, parsley, oil, and salt into the casserole dish and toss with squash until combined (hands or a spoon both work well for this step!). Do not add the kale yet.
  4. Cover the casserole dish with tinfoil and pop it into the fridge.
  5. Place the chopped kale into a tightly sealed zip bag (being sure to squeeze any air out beforehand) or a small airtight container and refrigerate.
  6. For the parmesan: Place all of the Almond-Pepita Parmesan ingredients into a mini food processor and pulse together until coarsely ground. Transfer the mixture into a zip bag or small container before placing it in the fridge. All three casserole components can be stored in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
  7. When ready to cook the casserole, remove all prepped ingredients from the fridge. Poke a few air holes into the tinfoil covering the casserole dish.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  9. Place the covered casserole dish in the oven and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the squash is fork tender.
  10. Carefully remove the squash from the oven and reduce heat to 350°F (180°C). Remove the tinfoil (be careful as some steam might escape from the dish as you do). Stir the chopped kale into the squash until combined. Sprinkle all of the parmesan over top of the squash. Bake for another 6 to 10 minutes, uncovered, until the nuts are lightly toasted and the kale has wilted. Watch closely so you don’t burn either the nuts or kale. Serve warm, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Leftovers will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for about 5 days. To reheat, simply scoop the squash into an oiled skillet and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until heated through. Season to taste, and enjoy!

 

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Let’s get social! Follow Angela on Instagram @ohsheglows, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Google+



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