Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Butternut Squash Lasagna

We love butternut squash (well at least my daughter and I do). Two years ago we tried growing it on trellises and found it was not only supper easy but we got a ton of them. There are a lot of ways we use this sweet creamy squash but one of my favorites is this lasagna. My daughters favorite is homemade raviolis! This is a great meal for the holidays we had it at Christmas since it can be put together before the big day and just popped in the oven. 

Like most lasagnas this one has three layers which can all be made at separate times and then put together when ready. Making your own ricotta cheese in a crock pot is super easy (and much cheaper then store bought) it requires only two ingredients, milk and lemon juice. My instructions for ricotta can be found here.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
9 Lasagna Noodles*

1 Butternut Squash
1 tbs chopped fresh sage, bay, or basil leaves or a combination.
3 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs

¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups milk
Pinch of nutmeg and sage, bay, or basil

Wash the squash and place the entire uncut squash in a 400ยบ preheated oven on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-90 min depending on the size of the squash. It is done when a knife easily slides through it. Let cool before removing the skin and deseeding. Chop up the flesh and place it in a blender or food processor to puree. 
Mix the squash puree, ricotta, parmesan, eggs and spices together in a large bowl. Refrigerate mixture until ready to assemble. 

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted add the flour and spices and stir to cook for about 1 min. Pour all of the milk into the pan and whisk to incorporate all the flour.  Continue to stir until the sauce thickens this could take about 5 min. 

To Assemble
This works well in one 13x9 inch dish or two       inch dishes. Start with a layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place noodles in a single layer on top of the sauce. Place a layer of filling and then a layer of cheese on the noodles. Continue with another layer of sauce, noodles, filling, and cheese. I usually make 2-3 layers depending on how deep my dish is. End with a layer of noodles, then cover with sauce and sprinkle on a bit more cheese. 

To Bake
Place lasagna in a 375°F preheated oven for 30-40 min or until the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the oven and keep covered in foil for 5 more min before serving.

To Freeze  
Before baking the lasagna can be frozen for later use. Place a cover over the top of the dish and freeze for use later. When you are ready to eat the lasagna take it out of the freezer and cover the dish with foil. Bake in a 450°F oven for 40-50 min or until the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the oven and keep covered in foil for 5 more min before serving. 

*I find if you leave the lasagna covered with foil during the entire cook time and for 5 min after removing from the oven you do not have to preboil packaged noodles. If you are using homemade noodles then you can remove the foil for 5-10 min at the end of the cook time to brown the cheese on top.