Butternut Squash Lasagna

By on November 10, 2013
squash lasagna

Originally posted on: CiaoChowLinda.Blogspot

Nothing goes to waste in our house – not even the kitchen waste from fruit and vegetable peelings and seeds  that my husband buries in the soil to add nutrients and reduce our garbage imprint.  As a consequence, tiny seedlings occasionally burst through the dirt in our garden and are ignored long enough that they become sturdy little plants. In this case, the little seedlings emerged unintentionally from a batch of vegetable trimmings that were composted under the soil earlier this year. By the time we noticed them, we had already allocated all the space in our vegetable garden to other plants. So we transferred the little fledglings to a spot in the front yard near the air conditioner and yew bushes.

By midsummer, the little plants that we initially thought were zucchini were sprawled all along the ground and clambered up the yew bushes, their tendrils and vines wending their way from one shrub to another. Before we knew it, we noticed what appeared to be butternut squash babies hanging amid the branches of the yew bushes.  What started as seeds in our kitchen vegetable waste bin developed into at least five or six healthy, hearty butternut squash! Now we were ready to go full cycle again and take the squash back to the kitchen.

butternut squash

I had already been thinking of making a butternut squash lasagna, and when I saw Marie’s version on  Proud Italian Cook, that just sealed the deal. I changed a few things in mine, like adding the sausage, but loved her idea of roasting garlic and letting it steep in the béchamel sauce along with a sprig of sage. You could easily make this a vegetarian dish, however, by eliminating the sausage. It would still be “crazy good” as Marie says.

When you’re spending the time it takes to make this recipe, you might as well use the best quality ingredients you can find. That goes from the squash and the sausage to the lasagna noodles and the parmesan. Grate your own from a good chunk of parmigiano reggiano. Please don’t use those green cans purporting to be grated parmesan.

Since I was making homemade lasagna noodles, I prepared the dish in two stages.

The day before serving, I peeled the squash and cut it into slices about 1/2 inch thick, sprinkled them with salt, pepper and rosemary, and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour.

cutting squash

After they were nicely cooked and caramelized, I stored them overnight in the fridge.

squash in pot

 

While the squash was roasting, I also roasted a whole clove of garlic, drizzled with some olive oil.

roasted garlic

I also cooked the sausage a day ahead. I took the casings off some really good, organic sausage, then fried them and broke them up into bits. This sausage is made from locally raised, pastured pigs and has very little fat. It’s delicious and is sold at Whole Foods in the New Jersey/New York/Connecticut area under the name “Simply Grazin.”

The next day, I made the lasagna noodles. You can use store bought fresh lasagna noodles (Rana is a good brand) if you like and I’m sure it will be delicious, but once you’ve tried it with homemade lasagna noodles, it’s hard to go back. If you want to try it, use my pasta primer here.

I made the béchamel sauce, and steeped the sage leaves and roasted garlic in it for a while.

I boiled the lasagna noodles. It took only one minute.

While I prepared the ricotta mixture, I drained the lasagna noodles, draping them over the surface of the pot, and counter, making sure to keep some moisture under them so they wouldn’t stick to the pot.

Now you’re ready to assemble. Start by spreading a layer of béchamel at the bottom of the lasagna pan. Layer in some pasta, then spread the ricotta mixture and some sausage over that.

Now layer in some cooked butternut squash.

Drizzle a little of the béchamel over the squash, and sprinkle over a little parmesan, then start over again, with another layer of lasagna noodles.

Repeat the process until you have three layers of noodles. Finish with a layer of béchamel and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. You can add more layers of pasta and filling if you like, but be sure to increase the amounts for the béchamel and the filling too.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 3/4 hour or until golden brown on the top. You can pre-make everything and store it in the refrigerator overnight. In that case, make sure you remove it from the fridge ahead of time and let it come to room temperature. If not, you’ll need extra baking time in the oven to heat it through. It should look bubbly and golden on the top when it’s ready.

The hardest part  is waiting 10 minutes before cutting to allow it to solidify a little. But if you wait, you’ll be rewarded with these compact, delicious layers of goodness.

 

For more step-by-step photos and the complete recipe go to CiaoChowLinda.blogspot.com.

 

About Ciao Chow Linda

Linda Prospero, is a Princeton, N.J. writer who has lived in Italy and continues to travel there to visit family and explore all its regions. She spent her career as a journalist, and her articles have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times to the Times of India. But her real passion is Italy -- its art, literature and food -- and sharing that love with others. She is author of the popular blog, Ciao Chow Linda. In my last life, I was a journalist in NYC, but left the rat race to live in Italy for a year with my husband. Back in the states now, I have created this blog to combine my interests of writing and photography with my love of food and travel.

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Butternut Squash Lasagna