Thursday, December 1, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Much like any good pair of dancers, DB~ and I have found a good rhythm in the kitchen. Up until now, that relationship consisted of "I make the food and you enjoy it." It always left me feeling like she would just eat whatever I had the interest in making that day...kind of like a restaurant but with only 1 or 2 choices on the menu.

But in recent weeks, DB~ has found her niche. She is on a huge roll of finding great recipes for me to make. It started with the Cheddar Chicken Crumb recipe, moved to a Stuffed Pepper recipe (a variation on a Greek stuffed pepper recipe I've been doing) and then last Sunday came the Butternut Squash Lasagna.

I've probably mentioned this before, but DB~ with a little extra convincing could easily be a vegetarian. She doesn't like red meat very much, doesn't eat barbeque (!!!), tolerates pork, and is OK with eating chicken. So in turn, I've become a bit of a vegetarian myself. That's OK with the Moroccan tagines, and the stuffed pepper with no meat, but...lasagna? I'm used to a nice little layer of ground meat inside all that melty ricotta.

She found the recipe on this site called Design Sponge. After looking at it, I realized this needed to be a weekend meal, because it seemed time-consuming. I modified the ingredients for this post to correspond to my experience making it. This will serve 4 people.

1 medium butternut squash - peeled, cored, and sliced width-wise
6 lasagna noodles - cooked
1-1/2 cups of spinach leaves
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 stick of butter
scant 1/4 cup of flour
1-1/2 cups of 2% milk
2 cups of mozzarella
1/2 cup of parmasean cheese, shredded

Start your large stockpot of water boiling. Turn your oven on to 375 degrees Farenheit.
While the water is coming to a boil, peel and slice the squash into the wing-like shaped pieces (make sure you cut in half and remove the seeds too). Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet, place the squash on the sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake the squash for 15 minutes until softened.

Hopefully your water is boiling by now and you can drop your lasagna noodles in to cook fully.

While that's going on, start making your cream sauce. Take 1/4 of a stick of butter (half of your half stick) and melt it in a small saucepan on medium heat. Mix the flour in to create a roux. When this is whisked together, slowly pour in the milk and mix well. Add in the garlic and let the mixture thicken a little bit (keep stirring periodically, as the milk will cause the mix to bubble up with the flour).

Once thickened, pour this mix into a food processer and add the spinach. Process this thoroughly and add some salt and pepper to taste. There's your cream sauce.

Your lasagna should be cooked and drained by this point. Your squash should be out of the oven, too. Time to start assembling the lasagna.

Use a 9 by 13 baking dish for this. Pour some of the cream sauce in the bottom (enough to cover the bottom), then add one layer of lasagna noodles. Add some of the mozzarella cheese, some of the parm cheese, then a layer of the squash. Repeat as necessary (I did 2 layers) and end it with some parmasean cheese on top.

Bake covered in foil for 40 minutes, then take off the foil and bake for 15 minutes more. Let it rest for 10 minutes when you take it out or else it will fall apart when you cut it.

The link has a recipe for a sage-butter sauce, but we felt the lasagna stood on its own merit. And you never even notice there's no meat.

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