If you’re anything like me, instead of counting down the weeks left until spring you’re frantically trying to cram all your remaining favorite winter comfort foods into your meal plan. I certainly spend a borderline obsessive amount of time planning our weekly menu, varying the proteins and starches whilst also taking into account things like budget, cravings, and most importantly, seasonality. What should I make now because a few weeks from now I may not want to/be able to? So many favorites, too few nights, is always my takeaway at the end of the weekly exercise! If you find this conundrum equally vexing, then rest assured knowing this dish is simply a must-make while you can still play the ‘needed some good comfort food’ card.
I must admit this photo was taken a couple months back, but I prepared this dish just last week for a client. I sure hope she enjoyed it as much as we did! Toasty, nutty, butternut squash puree mixed with ricotta and Parmesan cheeses is layered between lasagna sheets and velvety béchamel, making this a deliciously rich, crazy good dish. Like any baked pasta, it’s a complete do-ahead, and you could even make two and freeze one for another week. Bake frozen lasagna directly from the freezer (verses defrosting overnight in the fridge) to avoid excess liquid pooling at the bottom as a result of thawing. Certainly you’d need to increase baking time if its been frozen.
Nothing about the recipe is especially difficult, only in the time it takes preparing each of the components. I par-cook my noodles for a scant 2-3 minutes just to soften them but you could use no-boil if you like and skip that step. I’ve found a 2-minute par-cook optimal for baked pastas (most recipes par-cook for 4 minutes, sometimes more). But I’m always amazed how readily those noodles absorb moisture.
butternut squash lasagna
- 3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, ends cut off, seeded, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 3 1/2 Tbs chopped fresh sage, divided
- kosher salt/black pepper
- 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, divided
- 1 lb dried lasagna sheets
- 8 cups whole milk
- 3/4 stick (6 Tbs) butter
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 6 Tbs flour
- 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Roast the squash: Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a bowl, toss squash, olive oil, 1 1/2 Tbs sage and 1 tsp salt. Spread on baking sheet in single layer. Roast, stirring once or twice, until very soft and beginning to brown, 40-50 minutes.
2. Let cool slightly and remove squash to a food processor. Process until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, combine squash puree, ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, eggs, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir until mixed. Set aside.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lasagna sheets and cook until just barely al dente, 3-4 minutes. Drain and toss with some olive oil just to coat so they don’t stick together. Spread in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets. Set aside.
5. Make the sauce: In a large saucepan, gently heat the milk to a bare slow simmer over medium-low heat (do not allow milk to come to a simmer). In a large pot, melt the butter. Add remaining sage and garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the milk all at once, whisking to avoid lumps. Season with salt and remaining nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, taste for salt, and set aside.
6. Adjust oven to 375. Butter or spray with cooking spray a deep baking dish. Spoon 1/3 béchamel (sauce) in bottom of dish. Layer 4-5 pasta sheets on top, overlapping slightly. Spread 1/3 squash mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with 1/3 mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheeses. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with sprinkling of cheeses. Bake 25-35 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from At Home with Michael Chiarello