My day began with a morning trip to the southeast before I could start my work, because I had left an incredibly necessary component at the store this weekend. I’m not a big fan of going in to work on my days off, but at least it meant I got to swing my new favorite grocery store while I was down there!
1 package lasagna noodles ($2.49)
half gallon milk ($2.99)
feta cheese ($3.59)
1 honeycrisp apple ($0.82) — in case you haven’t noticed, wintertime is for veggies, summertime is for fruit
bag of red quinoa ($8.99) — planning a red quinoa salad for later this week
pound+ crimini mushrooms ($5.54) — you’ll see why soon!
1 red onion ($0.63)
bag of mixed greens ($2.31)
bunch of kale ($2.29)
1 acorn squash ($1.41) — roasted and chopped up in the sesame quinoa salad!
hunk of Parmesan ($3.85)
Remaining for the month: $115.09
Sometimes when I’m reading food blogs I’ll bookmark particularly yummy looking posts and tag them with “recipes totry” in Delicious, then on days like today when I actually have time to think about what I want to eat before I go grocery shopping, I’ll pick out ingredients on purpose.
This meant cooking the pasta first — the key to consolidating dishes is to move your way to least to most dirty cooking processes. Boiling pasta is basically just like cleaning the pot, right?
So I cooked an entire box of lasagna noodles in salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil. An entire box is definitely more than is necessary, but when are you ever going to use half a box of lasagna? I’ll use the leftovers to make some sort of roll-ups to take to work later in the week. Maybe chicken-pesto-mixed-greens?
Once I drained the pasta and set it aside to cool, I was back to an empty pot. So I took these guys and sauteed them up in a few tablespoons of butter, olive oil, and a little salt (the liquid doesn’t evaporate as well in this deep a pot so I had to drain them before using them in the lasagna).
With those out of the picture, now I could make the bechamel sauce and dirty up the pot for real. Bechamel is a super simple cream sauce, that always starts with equal-ish parts flour and butter — in this case I started with about half a stick of butter and half a cup of flour.
Melt the butter, then add the flour and stir it around until it forms a paste. Now you can add the milk in slowly, and as you stir, the flour will thicken the sauce without it clumping. This is how I start my cheese sauce, and usually here I’ll toss in some fresh rosemary or sage, but this sauce has a really great garlic flavor and I didn’t want to obscure that, so instead I threw in three huge cloves of chopped garlic, about a teaspoon of grated fresh nutmeg, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, and a bunch of ground black pepper.
After this sauce thickened I started layering in the Pyrex — noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and grated parmesan cheese, ad infinitum until I ran out of the first ingredient (mushrooms).