Tag Archives: Squash

Mexican White Bean Tuna Salad

Those who know me well, know that I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise.  Like, at all.  I’m not going to be annoying and not eat a sandwich when a friend makes one for me (who am I kidding…that never happens), but mayo is a huge reason I never opt for the tuna salad at most places.  *and yes, I cook with it when necessary, just not in abundance. 

Now THIS!!! THIS I can do!!  It has a bit of tang, a bit of heat, a real freshness and zero of that creamy mayo!  Sold!!!  It’s a much lighter take on the traditional version that you can still eat between sliced bread, a pita or a tortilla..or simply eat it on its own as the ‘salad’ that it is!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 packets/cans tuna, drained
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained AND rinsed
  • 1/2-1 calabacita (Mexican squash), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4″
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds & pith removed, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, rough chop 
  • 1/8 cup green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil, drizzle (1 Tbsp/ optional)
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste 

This really can’t be any easier…per usual, prep all of the veggies and protein. 

Next, in a large bowl, combine ALL of the above ingredients and toss together.  Yeah…super easy, right??  *you can cover and refridgerate or eat right away!  

I like to serve ours with sliced and seasoned tomatoes, lemon and lime wedges, pita bread or tortillas….and maybe a margarita or two.  Enjoy!!!

Pancetta, Kale & Butternut Squash Lasagna 

There is not one person who will object to this recipe..the meat-eater gets their crispy and flavorful pancetta and the lighter plate’r gets the freshness of the kale and butternut squash…and what’s not to like about béchamel sauce??!  This is a lasagna that will fulfill everyone’s palate while still leaving you not carb-crashed on your couch.

Plus…yes, there is a plus!  You can absolutely make this a bit more simple with ‘ready to bake’ lasagna noodles, precut and washed kale leaves and already cubed butternut squash in your produce section..Remember though, that there are still produce scales that you can weigh the squash to what you need..cheaper!  

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 lbs butternut squash, cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin intact
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus leaves of 2 springs
  • 3 Tbsp evoo
  • 1/2 lb pancetta, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed and patted dry
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided (4:1)
  • 3 fresh sage leaves, plus 1 leaf rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4oz goat cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs 
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Lasagna noodles, ready to bake (2 packs depending)
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper


  • Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly chopped parsely, Italian flat leaf    

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare a large baking sheet with either nonstick or parchment paper.

Like I mentioned above, you can either peel and cube the butternut squash yourself or buy it already done in your produce aisle..I suppose it depends on how much of a ‘purest’ you are..delish either way.    We’ll just pretend you are and you’ve prepped the squash and also rinsed & patted dry the kale leaves *remove the leaves from the stalk. 

   Place the cubed squash in an even layer on top of the baking sheet, drizzle with 2 Tbsp of evoo and mix around to coat.  Sprinkle the squash with a bit of salt and pepper and toss on about 3 springs of fresh thyme.  You also want to put the garlic cloves onto this sheet *Remember, leave the garlic skin on to roast.  Place the baking sheet onto the middle rack of your oven and let roast and become tender for 40-45 minutes…Talk about a smell good home!!  

While the squash and garlic are roasting, you’ll heat a splash of evoo in a saute pan and once hot, add in the pancetta.  Cook this (stirring around occasionaly) for about 4-5 minutes till it starts to crisp *just like American bacon.  Once brown and crisp, toss in that pile of kale leaves.  *Make sure they’re all DRY…you do NOT want to add in wet (water covered) greens into a pot of hot oil/grease.  Bad, bad things will happen…Once the leaves have wilted and soaked up a bit of that marvelous pancetta flavor, scoop that mix into a paper towl lined bowl and set aside.  Dispose of excess grease. 

     About now the roasted vegetables are done alongside the kale & pancetta.  Just set both aside to cool a bit.  Drop the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

Lets start that tangy, gooey béchamel sauce!  In another pan (sauté or sauce pan), heat up 4 Tbsp of the butter on medium-low heat till melted (don’t burn this)…Immediately, once melted, toss in the 3 sage leaves and cook in the butter (while stirring) for 3-4 minutes.  Discard the sage and add in the flour.  Whisk till smooth (2-3 minutes). 

       Gradually whisk in the milk and cook until thickened enough to coat a spoon, while whisking occasionally (15 minutes). 

   Next, stir in the goat cheese, 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, nutmeg, salt & pepper.  Whisk till smooth and then set aside 2 cups of the cheesy béchamel, while reserving the rest for the squash mixture. 

   In a large bowl, combine the roasted squash (REMOVE the thyme sprigs), the leftover béchamel sauce and squeeze out the garlic from the roasted cloves, discarding the skins.   Sprinkle with another pinch of salt & pepper and mash together with a potato masher or fork (for more texture) or a handheld mixer for creamier results.  *I prefer the handheld way. 

     Breadcrumb Topping:  In a small bowl, add the Panko breadcrumbs with 1 Tbsp of melted butter and the chopped herbs (sage & thyme), a pinch of salt & pepper.

Assembly time!!  In a 9×13 dish sprayed with non stick, add a couple of Tbsps of béchamel sauce to the bottom and top with enough lasagna noodles to cover.  Break if needed to fill in gaps.  Next spread about 1 cup of the mashed butternut squash mixture over the noodles. 

 Follow with some of the pancetta & sauteed kale overtop.  A bit more bechamel…another layer of noodles and repeat until ingredients are gone…but please try to end up with the top layer of noodles and béchamel (I always get 3 layers with this amount). 

 Sprinkle the entire top of the lasagna with the Panko bread crumb mixture and the other 1/2 cup pecorino cheese.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Remove the foil, sprinkle with the pine nuts and now bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.  Once the top is browned and bubbly remove from the oven and allow to cool and set for 5-10 minutes before cutting into.  

Serve with an extra garnish of shaved parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley…enjoy! 


Smothered Italian Pork Chops

This isn’t my normal comfort food cuisine.  The weather is getting slightly warmer, so I thought I’d lighten it up a bit this week with this one!  Don’t let the “smothered” part fool you.  The lean pork chops are topped with fresh veggies and stewed tomatoes.  No heavy cream here….though it’s not a bad idea. At all..

The Starting Linup

  • 2 lbs pork chops, bone in OR boneless
  • 1 box Orzo pasta
  • 2 cans Italian Stewed Tomatoes
  • 1 yellow squash, thickly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, thickly sliced
  • 1 pckg mushrooms
  • 1/2 red onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt & pepper 

Start this easy meal by rinsing and chopping your vegetables.  These make for some pretty colors together!  I choose to thickly slice them, as they hold up better after being cooked in the crockpot for hours.  If they’re too thin they’ll almost just disappear and have absolutely no texture.

Layer about 3/4th’s of these veggies down into your crockpot coated in nonstick spray.

Generously salt & pepper your pork chops and place onto the veggies.  Top the chops with the rest of the vegetables and pour in the two cans of stewed tomatoes.  If needed, also add in 1 cup of water or chicken stock.

Cover and set to high for 4-6 hours and let that genius device do everything for you!  Here is where I finish picking up the millions of Hot Wheels cars and toy monster trucks from under my feet and head off to t-ball practice, because this is a glorious crockpot meal!

When time is up, cook your orzo according to package directions. *Though orzo looks like rice, it is actually a pasta!  You can find it right where the good ol spaghetti noodles are 🙂

Spoon a cup of orzo pasta into a bowl and smother with the tender pork chops and tomato veggie mix.  I like to shred some parmesan cheese over top for a bit of extra saltiness.  Here’s an easy & healthy meal that will not leave you filling hungry!


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