Sweet Happy Life

Butternut Squash Lasagna

There’s something about the arrival of Autumn that makes me crave the comfort of warm, one-dish meals. Big pots of chili, steaming mugs of soup, bubbling baking dishes filled with homemade lasagna. Is there anything better?

One of my favorite variations of lasagna is my husband’s butternut squash lasagna. At this time of year it’s an irresistible combination of seasonal butternut squash, fresh herbs, and cheeses like ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. The dish does require a fair amount of prep so we usually make it on weekends or for special occasions like Thanksgiving, but the end result is worth the effort.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided use
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided use
  • 2 15oz containers of ricotta
  • 4 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided use
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan, divided use
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 biscotti cookies (not sweet ones, we used almond & walnut biscotti)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 10oz package no-boil lasagna noodles

For béchamel:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment: 9 x 13 inch baking dish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Raise heat to high and continue to cook, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pot, add the sliced squash, vegetable broth, 3 tablespoons of thyme and 3 tablespoons sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

While squash is cooking, in a medium bowl combine ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the eggs and mix well. Set aside.

When squash is done, cool slightly and remove 3/4 cup of the excess liquid (1 cup if there is an excessive amount of liquid). Transfer to food processor. Break the biscotti in half and add to the processor. Blend until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking frequently. Whisk in the nutmeg. This sauce is called “béchamel” and it’s done when it coats the back of a spoon. (Make the bechamel just before assembling the lasagna, if it sits too long it will develop a skin).

Now it is time to assemble the lasagna. Coat the bottom of your baking dish with 1/2 of the béchamel. Then layer the rest of the lasagna as follows:

  • 1/3 of the ricotta mixture
  • Noodles (make sure they are not overlapping)
  • 1/3 of the squash mixture
  • 1/2 of the onions
  • 1/3 of the remaining mozzarella
  • 1/3 of the ricotta mixture
  • Noodles
  • 1/3 of the squash mixture
  • 1/2 of the onions 1/3 of the ricotta mixture 1/3 of the mozzarella Rest of the béchamel Noodles Remaining squash mixture

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and starting to color a bit.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

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