Leafing through the New Lasagna Cookbook I borrowed from the Killingworth Library, I saw a recipe for Butternut Squash Lasagna with sage, onions and parmesan cheese. I thought this could be really, really good or so bland you'd want to throw the entire thing in the trash.
Luckily, it was really, really good. It is also a venture not for the faint of heart. It took me three hours from start to finish to make it the first time. After that, I developed some shortcuts. It also uses many pans and dishes (and I shortened that up!) and has about 2,000 calories a bite, but that's another story.
Where this dish really shines is as a special side-dish at a special dinner party. I made it for a dinner for my husband's visiting Swedish relatives and served it with roast pork. Everyone loved it.
There are three main parts to this recipe: making the Bechamel sauce, roasting the squash/onion mixture and boiling the lasagna noodles. I found that you can make everything ahead of time. Just reheat the sauce and bring the squash/onion mixture to room temperature when you are ready to assemble the lasagna. Even then you can assemble it, cover it with foil and refrigerate it until the next day when you bake it.
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Serves 6 as a main dish or 8-10 as a side or appetizer
1 quart (4 cups) of whole milk
5 T unsalted butter
5 T flour
dash of grated fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper
In a large glass dish, microwave the milk on medium until just hot. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until bubbly for one minute. Slowly whisk in the warmed milk and continue whisking over medium heat until all the milk is used and the sauce thickens. Let boil gently for about one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper, if desired.
1 medium whole butternut squash
1 Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
8-10 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash the outside of the squash and remove both ends. Chop up the squash into medium size pieces. Place squash, onion and sage on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.
Roast for about 45 minutes to one hour until squash is tender. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the squash with a sharp paring knife. Discard skin. Place squash, onion and sage leaves in a large mixing bowl. Mash lightly with a potato masher.
Add ricotta, egg and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese to squash mixture and mix well.
1 lb. box of lasagna noodles (I used Ronzoni). Do not use the "no boil" noodles. You will have some leftover cooked noodles.
Boil all the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions or about 10 minutes (for the Ronzoni). Drain well and set aside.
Grease a large casserole dish (10x14x2). Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Top with one layer of noodles. Spread one-third of the squash mixture on top. Spread a thin layer of sauce on top of that. Repeat two more times ending with noodles and the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with 1/4 cup of remaining parmesan cheese.
Can be covered and refrigerated or frozen at this point. Bring to room temperature prior to baking.
If baking right away: cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.