I have to say one thing about myself, when I get my mind set on something, I get it done. It's that tenacity that got me through grad school while working full-time, while keeping up with my wife and motherly duties. So when I got the idea for a break away from traditional lasagna, well I went for it. And might I add, the taste was out of the world. There are a few steps to create this masterpiece, but they are so totally worth it. Here's how I did it:
Butternut Squash Lasagna:
For the Squash & Ricotta filling:
2 cups of organic butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large organic shallot, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1- 15 ounce container organic ricotta cheese
2 tbsp organic chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
salt & pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the butternut squash and the shallot in the olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and put on a sheet pan. Make sure it is in a single layer. Roast for 20-30 minutes. Add the ricotta and parsley to a bowl. Grate in the garlic cloves, stir to combine, and set aside. While the squash and shallots roast, move on to the sage and nutmeg béchamel. When the vegetables have finished roasting, add to the ricotta mix and stir well. You can use a fork to mix, mashing any butternut squash chunks as you go.
Sage & Nutmeg Béchamel sauce:
4 tbsp organic unsalted butter
4 tbsp organic flour
1 cup organic chicken broth
1 cup organic milk (I used 2%)
6-8 sage leaves, depending on the size
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
Directions: Add the butter to a saucepan set on medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, whisking very well as you add, to avoid any lumps. Continue whisking and add the milk. Now you can switch to a spoon. Stir in the sage leaves, nutmeg, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook just until the mixture starts to thicken then remove from the heat. Let the sauce continue to sit off the heat while you wait for the squash & shallots to roast, leaving the sage leaves to steep in the béchamel. If the sauce thickens too much while it sits, just thin out with a little more chicken broth or milk. Remove the sage leaves when you are ready to assemble the lasagna.
Fresh lasagna noodles, store bought or homemade
2-3 cups organic shredded mozzarella
1. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. Coat the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish with a layer of the béchamel.
3. Add a layer of lasagna noodles.
4. Add a layer of the ricotta-squash filling and sprinkle some cheese.
5. Spoon some of the béchamel over the cheese and top with noodles.
6. Continue the layering process until you have used up all of your filling and sauce. Do not put any mozzarella cheese on top.
7. Cover the lasagna with foil and cook for 30 minutes.
8. Remove the foil, add a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese on top, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
9. Let the lasagna sit for at least an hour before serving. You will thank me for this. Enjoy!!
Tip: You can easily double or even triple this recipe depending on how many you are feeding and how much leftovers you want. Because let me tell you, lasagna is so much better the next day. This freezes down beautifully, making it the perfect make ahead meal. Just assemble and don't bake. Take it out and put it in the refrigerator to defrost the night before you want to bake it. When you are ready, preheat your oven, and pick up at step number 7.