Smoky Butternut Squash Soup w/ Yogurt & Dukkah


Easing back into blogging after a long hiatus because you know….life.  Life with my kids, my job that I love, and navigating single mommy life and all its idiosyncrasies.  In a nutshell, getting caught up in the routine and groove of life.  But, I’m reclaiming my time because food is everything to me.  It’s my art.  From its history, it’s journey from farm to table, to the creativity and innovation of food dishes that entice your eyes as well as your palate. 

I’m starting back with this Smoky Butternut Squash Soup w/ Yogurt and Dukkah seasoning for a little bit of Fall inspiration. I’ve used Dukkah seasoning in a couple of my other recipes.  As you can see, it’s one of my favorite seasonings.  Some nights when I get home late and I don’t want to look at the stove because I’m too tired and too hungry, I’ll whip up some Scrambled Eggs with Cheese, Avocado slices and sprinkle Dukkah Seasoning on top of my eggs.  Now, Scrambled Eggs with Cheese is great on its own, but adding the seasoning, gives it such a pop of flavor.  Like I can really cook kind of flavor.  You can make your own Dukkah seasoning, which consists of a combination of nuts, sesame seeds, cumin, fennel, and other seasonings.  Or, you can just buy it here.

The soup was a great late-night dinner for me, along with some crusty bread and my new obsession……Better Call Saul.  I binged watched Breaking Bad last year and was told to watch its prequel spin-off.  I’m quite hooked. 

Have a great day everyone!

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup with Yogurt and Dukkah Seasoning//serves 4


3 lb. butternut squash (about 1 large squash), deseeded, peeled, and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
3 large garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
4 cups vegetable broth

Optional toppings

1 tablespoon yogurt, garnish
1 tablespoon dukkah seasoning, garnish
Chopped parsley for garnish

 Preheat oven to 425° F.  Arrange chopped butternut squash on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Drizzle squash with olive oil.  Roast 25-30 min or until squash are softened and browned.

 In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion.  Cook stirring often until the onion has softened and is starting to turn brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. 

 Transfer the cooked onion and garlic mixture to a blender.  Add the roasted butternut squash, smoked sea salt, smoked paprika and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour in the vegetable stock and blend on high until soup is thick and creamy. Add additional stock if you would like a thinner soup.  Depending on the type of blender you use, (I used my Vitamix), you may have to work in batches to blend the squash.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with yogurt, Dukkah seasoning and parsley.  Serve immediately.

 1 year ago

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Creamy Mascarpone Polenta w/ Mushroom Ragu


Creamy Mascarpone Polenta w/ Mushroom Ragu

Oh, my goodness! It’s actually cold here in Los Angeles.  For the first time, I can honestly say that it feels a bit like I’m in Atlanta or dare I say, New Jersey.  Interestingly, when I told my mom how cold it was here, she gleefully stated, “Well, it looks like you gave us all of your heat.”  Okay, so it’s opposites day!  Well, the only way to combat such a cold streak is to make cozy, comfort food.

This Mascarpone Polenta with Mushroom Ragu is rustic, creamy, and classic.  A perfect meal to warm you up from the chilly air. This is a quick meal involving cremini mushrooms, mascarpone (oh joy) and cornmeal.  Most recipes combine a mix of dried and fresh mushrooms and incorporate a variety of mushrooms, such as chanterelles, porcini, shitakes.  For this recipe, I used one type of mushroom as this is what I hand on hand. Also, depending on where you live, your store may have shitake’s, but not chanterelle’s.  If you’re like me and set on having the exact ingredients for a dish, save yourself the frustration and stick to one type of mushroom.  If you nail it, and find all the mushrooms, go for it.  You’ll be pleased with the result as each mushroom imparts its on flavor and texture.  It will be a treat.

Lastly, there is much debate about whether to use polenta or cornmeal to make this dish.  Well, polenta is the dish, not the ingredient. So, you can definitely use cornmeal that you see at your local grocery store.  However, you can purchase cornmeal that is labeled “polenta,” such as this and this brand if you want to be authentic.




4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper

mushroom ragu
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1-1   ½ pounds crimini mushrooms or a mix of mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shitake)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 cups vegetable stock
Fresh ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add the salt.  Whisking constantly, add the cornmeal in a very thin, steady stream.  Stir until thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Add the mascarpone, parmesan cheese and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

For the mushroom ragu, heat the oil in a large skillet to medium-low.  Add the shallots and cook until wilted.  Raise the heat to high, add the mushrooms, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are tender, and liquid has evaporated.  Add the tomato paste and stir for a minute.  Add the red wine and stir until the wine evaporates.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

To assemble, put the polenta into individual bowls and generously top with the mushroom ragu.  Serve with additional parmesan cheese.

Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagna

Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagna.JPG

With Thanksgiving in a mere 2 days, I decided to make my favorite go to dish, Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagna, adapted from Martha Stewart Living.  I didn’t fiddle with the recipe (adding this, subtracting that) as the recipe is phenomenal as is. Creamy, decadent, and filling, this will add a nice addition to your Thanksgiving table if you’re vegetarian or you’re just not that into turkey.

This lasagna, like most lasagna recipes requires a bit of prep.  However, I really enjoy the prep as I tend to zone out so to speak.  I grab a glass of wine, turn on my fav tunes, and begin ceremoniously chopping, mashing, stirring, frying until I get to what all that was for.  The assembly line of noodles, squash, ricotta, repeat and so on.  The finale of it all of course, is a golden brown, cheesey, masterpiece that will look awesome on your holiday table, but also weekend dinners.

Once the lasagna is complete, serve alongside a nice crisp salad, and enjoy.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagna//makes 8 servings
Adapted from Martha Stewart 

3 ½ pounds butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-pound whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
½ pound fresh mozzarella, grated, about 2 cups
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
1 ¼ cup vegetable stock
4-oz finely grated parmesan cheese
1 package lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt on a baking sheet. Season with pepper. Bake until light gold and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool.

While, squash is baking, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes.  Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. 

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Combine ricotta, heave cream, egg yolks, mozzarella, and a pinch of nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Season with salt.

Pour olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add sage and cook until gold and slightly crisp at edges, 3 to 4 minutes.

Place squash in a medium bowl, and mash ½ of it with the back of a wooden spoon until smooth, leaving the other ½ in whole pieces.  Alternatively, you can place ½ of the squash in your food processor and pulse until smooth.  Gently stir in the crispy sage and stock.  Season with salt and pepper.

For the assembly, spread ¾ cup of ricotta mixture into a 9-inch square baking dish or 9x13 inch rectangular baking dish.  Top with a layer of noodles.  Spread ½ of the butternut squash mixture over the noodles.  Top with a layer of noodles.  Spread 1 cup of ricotta mixture over noodles.  Repeat layering (noodles, squash, noodles, ricotta).  Sprinkle parmesan over ricotta mixture and top with additional mozzarella cheese. 

Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until cheese is golden and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes.  Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing.  Serve.