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Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's up, Butternut?

Butternut. A type of squash.....and just one of the millions of nicknames I have for my dog, Chester (at this point I'm not even sure he knows what his real name is!) So I had this amazing butternut squash lasagna at a party and I was lucky enough to get my hands on the recipe! (Thanks Marilyn!) It's one of those things I've always wanted to make, but didn't know if I'd like it. I was suprised how easy it was to prepare. I would definitely describe this dish as comfort food all the way. It's so creamy and cheesy with the perfect blend of sweet and savory. The top gets nice and crispy from the Parmesan cheese (freshly grated of course....no "snow cheese"!) The white sauce in this recipe is called a Bechamel sauce. It's one of my favorite basic sauces for making any type of vegetable or chicken lasagna when I don't want to use a red tomato sauce.

Butternut Squash Lasagna (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis recipe)


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (1 1/2-2 pound) butternut squash, sliced lengthwise and seeded
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper
Sprinkle of 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


1. Preheat oven at 375 degrees.
2. Place squash sliced-side-up on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake at 375 for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork (will depend on size and thickness of squash.)

3. Transfer squash to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Season puree with salt and pepper.
4. To make the Bechamel sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute until combined. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to low heat and whisk often until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in sprinkle of nutmeg. (This is the basic Bechamel sauce. Just butter, milk, flour, and nutmeg. So delish!)
5. Transfer half of Bechamel sauce to blender. Add basil and blend until smooth. Return basil sauce to sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

6. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread 3/4 cup of sauce in bottom of dish. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on bottom of pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Drizzle about 3/4 cup sauce over the mozzarella cheese layer. Repeat layering process twice more, topping off with remainder of the sauce.
7. Tighly cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and parmesan and bake and additional 15 minutes uncovered, until lasagna is bubbly and browned. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing or serving.

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