Butternut Squash Lasagna
Whew. After all the carb-loading we did at the Moldovan masa (and eating all the left overs) it was time for something with vegetables. And something that wasn’t fried. And something I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating.
Last week a colleague brought me a butternut squash that he’d picked up from his parents’ garden in New York. It was one well-travelled squash. I spent several days searching for the right recipe, using all my usual search engines (primarily epicurious and the Food Network). I knew it would be hard to find something to top the butternut squash, kale and bacon pie I made a few weeks ago, and I didn’t feel like soup. This left me with surprisingly few options. Perhaps I’m more picky in my recipes than most, but I generally have a good idea of what I’ll like and what I won’t (anything “risotto” is automatically out).
Then I decided to give Cooking Light a shot; after all, I was looking for a healthy recipe. I found this recipe for butternut squash lasagna which sounded a bit odd (squash? lasagna? what?), but it got rave reviews. You might think I’m nuts for putting this much effort into finding a recipe, but I prefer to think of my recipe-finding techniques as “fastidious” rather than “OCD-esque.”
This recipe had quite a few steps to it, since I had to prepare the squash, make the sauce, mix the cheeses and cook the spinach and onions. But it didn’t take too long, and I really liked the idea of splitting the lasagna between two pans and freezing one for later. I wasn’t sure if Nate (who does most of the eating in our house) would like it and I didn’t want to try to eat a whole pan of lasagna before it went bad. Too much of a good thing makes it no longer “good.”
I’m one of those people that will cook something and sit and watch as others take their first bites. I try not to be too obvious about it, but I can’t help it. Nate can be hard to gauge because he almost always just nods his head while he’s chewing and says “Mmmm.” (Perhaps his response would be different if I didn’t ask “So how is it?” when his mouth was still full. I’m eager, what can I say?) He knows if he says something critical I’m likely to get pissy and huff “Fine. Than you can do all the cooking next time.” At first Nate didn’t like this, as “it’s bland because it doesn’t have meat” but he later conceded that it wasn’t that bad after all. I don’t know; I liked it. In fact, I thought it was awesome.
What is it about lasagna noodles with the curly edges that make them so much fun?
The moral of the story is that if you have butternut squash and you don’t want to make soup or you’re a vegetarian or you just want something delicious for dinner, you should definitely make this lasagna. Plus, it looks pretty 🙂
Butternut Squash Lasagna
(Adapted from Cooking Light)
- 3 cups chopped onion
- 10 cup fresh spinach
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
- 3 cups diced peeled butternut squash (for me this was one medium squash)
- 6 cups Smoky Marinara
- 12 oven-ready lasagna noodles (I used whole wheat noodles. I think almost any lasagna noodle is “oven-ready,” whatever that means… if you cook any noodle for long enough in liquid it should cook itself.)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 1 1/2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Combine provolone, salt, pepper, eggs, and ricotta cheeses in a large bowl.
Place squash in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and cook on high 5 minutes or until tender.
Coat the bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup Smoky Marinara in the bottom of one prepared dish. Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups squash over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over squash.
Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over the noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups onion mixture over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over spinach mixture.
Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup Smoky Marinara evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients in remaining pan. Cover each pan with foil.
Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.
To freeze unbaked lasagna: Prepare through Step 6. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.
To prepare frozen unbaked lasagna: Thaw completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover lasagna with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until bubbly.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.