For our first Shabbat Sunday dinner of 2012, we invited the super-adorable Ricinati family to join us. Since they keep kosher (+1 vegetarian), I wanted to find an interesting kosher veggie dish that was substantial enough to stand alone. And something that didn’t necessarily need bacon (although bacon would be ridiculously delicious in this dish!)
I settled on a white lasagna with butternut squash, one of my favorite winter veggies. At the farmer’s market earlier that week, I kept passing by these cute little squash-itos (technical term), about half the size you normally see in the grocery store. I’ve heard the smaller ones are sweeter and moister and WOW, these delivered on both counts. For any recipe that normally calls for one butternut squash, just use two of these babies and you’ll be in squash heaven.
If you’re looking for shortcuts, yes you can use the precut squash or even the frozen kind, but believe me the freshly prepped, locally grown squash tastes world’s better. The good news is the smaller ones are MUCH easier to prep!
This butternut squash-ito is a little nervous about participating in his first lasagna. See? He even broke a sweat! (mmmm…. that’s some juicy squash)
Butternut Squash Lasagna
recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 small butternut squash (or 1 medium-large), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 amaretti cookies, crumbled – if you live in L.A., they have some really delicious ones at Bay Cities Deli
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- Pinch nutmeg
- 3/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
Preheat convection oven to 400 degrees F (regular oven 425 degrees F). Toss squash with oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Roast until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized in spots, about 25-30 minutes in the convection oven or 35-40 in a regular oven. Turn the squash once halfway through roasting. Cool slightly then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the amaretti cookies and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree to taste with more salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Add basil and blend using an immersion blender (alternatively, transfer half of the sauce to a blender, add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend). Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Using a spatula, spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.
*Make Ahead: if you want to prep the dish in advance, you can cover the lasagna with plastic wrap at this point and refrigerate overnight. Let the lasagna come to room temperature before baking.
Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Prior to serving, finish the lasagna in the broiler for approx. 2 minutes (watch it closely!) until the cheese on top is bubbly and browned. This gives the top a nice savory crunch that complements the creamy filling beautifully.
For leftovers the next day, just sprinkle a little more grated Parmesan Reggiano on top and pop it in the broiler or toaster oven for a few minutes to heat it up. Delish!Pin It