Food for a Retreat

Salad, roasted broccoli & red onions, butternut squash & kale lasagna with hazelnuts

I rushed from the airport Wednesday afternoon (just arrived from visiting family in North Carolina) to the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market to gather produce for the women’s singing and yoga retreat with Heather Houston and Jaclyn Long at Skyote Mountain on Saturday. Lots of winter squash! And Happy Boy Farm still had the wonderful watermelon radishes I had shared with my family in NC last week.

Saturday morning I made chai for the group, perfect for the rainy, foggy day. I make my chai without the black tea or milk–that way each person can add what they like. I offered organic 2% milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk, along with honey, organic sugar, or stevia for sweetener. My mix doesn’t really need sweetener, as the licorice root and star anise sweeten it enough for most.

Chai

For 6 cups

2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds (you don’t need to peel it, just rinse first)

2 cinnamon sticks

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon whole cloves

10 whole cardamom pods (crushed a bit in a mortar & pestle)

1 tablespoon dried licorice root

A few star anise

6 cups cold water

Bring a pot of water to a simmer with the spices in it and simmer for about 20 minutes. You can just put everything directly in the pot and then strain it out when it’s done. I usually use a large tea ball for the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and licorice, then add the ginger and cinnamon sticks directly to the water.

When it’s ready, add as much milk or alternative milk as you like. If you are adding a lot of milk, you might heat it first so it doesn’t cool down the chai. The mix without milk can also be stored in the refrigerator and then mixed with milk before heating up.  If you want it with black (or green, or white) tea, just pour the chai over the tea and brew for the appropriate time before or after adding the milk. (Remember that the casein in milk may diminish the antioxidant effect of the tea–studies appear to be inconclusive on this).

The dinner menu:

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna with Hazelnuts

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions

Salad of Happy Boy Farm Baby Greens with watermelon radishes, carrots, cucumber

Gluten-free Multigrain Miracle bread

Flourless Chocolate Cake & ice cream (plus pistachio halvah that Vladi brought)

Flourless Chocolate Cake with ice cream and pistachio halvah

Recipes

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna with Hazelnuts

3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk

1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use a mixture of 2 parts brown rice flour, 2/3 of one part potato starch, and 1/3 of one part tapioca flour)

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup diced onions

1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. kale, large ribs removed, chopped

9 cooked lasagna noodles (8 ounces uncooked noodles)

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; keep warm.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Melt butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat; add flour to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until smooth and golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add remaining warm milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Mix in chopped hazelnuts. Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and thyme. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add kale, about 1/3 at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with kale mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange 3 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, remaining 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange remaining 3 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

Adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2006, by Krista Montgomery, M.S., R.D.

Salad Dressings

Kripalu House Dressing (I used half the amount of oil and it is still delicious)

Tahini Lemon Miso Dressing

1/2 cup tahini

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cups water

2 tablespoons barley miso

1 teaspoons cumin seed, ground

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon tamari

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in food processor or blender.

Servings: 12 (2 tablespoons per serving)

Calories 66.79, Total Fat 5.61g, Saturated Fat 0.78g, Sodium 231.42mg, Carbohydrates 3.01g, Fiber 0.96g, Sugar 0.12g, Protein 2.03g

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tablespoon red vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Combine in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Servings: 6 (2 tablespoons per serving)

Calories 29.2, Total Fat 1.59g, Saturated Fat 0.24g, Sodium 37.19mg, Carbohydrates 3.18g, Fiber 0.07g, Sugar 2.65g, Protein 0.8g