Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Baking and Books: Butternut Squash Lasagne with Fresh Sage and Thyme

Here's a question for you: why go out on Valentine's Day?  I mean, you know that they've taken what is essentially a $20 dinner and marked it up to $45.  You have to call way ahead to get a reservation and then hang out in the bar as the couple at your table stares into each other's eyes way past time to pay the check.  And you can tell the waitstaff would much rather be with their own sweethearts, not getting you a refill.  Why not make some delicious food at home and savor the time alone instead?

Butternut Squash Lasagne with Fresh Sage and Thyme
From bakingandbooks.com

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2½ cups diced yellow onion
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch thick slices
1¾ cups vegetable broth
4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided use
4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided use
2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
4½ 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 with a hint of anise flavoring)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (10-ounce) package no-boil lasagna noodles

For béchamel:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1¾ cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the 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, ½ 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 ¾ 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. Make the béchamel 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 a 9x13-inch baking dish with ½ of the béchamel. Then layer the rest of the lasagna as follows: ⅓ of the ricotta mixture, noodles (make sure they are not overlapping), ⅓ of the squash mixture, ½ of the onions, ⅓ of the remaining mozzarella, ⅓ of the ricotta mixture, noodles, ⅓ of the squash mixture, ½ of the onions, ⅓ of the ricotta mixture, ⅓ of the mozzarella, the rest of the béchamel, noodles, remaining squash mixture.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 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.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

No comments: