Well, Hurricane Sandy tried her best to scare Baltimore. Watching the storm unfold by following people’s posts on Facebook kept us entertained, including this gem:
Watching the news was slightly more sobering. Scenes from more costal areas, from NYC, from New Jersey – well, we know how lucky we are to still be dry and with power and all in one piece. I hope anyone who has been affected by Sandy recovers, and knows that the whole world is pulling for them. Literally, as international CX racer Joyce Vanderbeken posted on Facebook that Sandy was making the news across the pond.
So, what does one do when stuck in their house for two days? Well, after the interwebs and the news channel stopped being interesting, my next move was to make something which requires time and effort, two things that I normally can’t contribute to my week-day kitchen efforts. Enter one recipe for Butternut Squash Lasagne.
This dish is technically vegetarian, but you can certainly add some ground turkey or pieces of cooked chicken if you think you need a little more protein. I chose to make it with a mushroom, onion, and collard green filling, because that is the best combo that the grocery store had when I went shopping on Saturday. The shelves were seriously bare at my local supermarket!
The first step to building the lasagne is to cook your butternut squash. Now, I hate breaking down raw squash with a knife. Hate it. My flimsy and weak cyclist arms cannot take all the hacking and cutting required to make squash cubes. Instead, I have found several alternative ways to get the filling ready to eat:
1. Manage to slice squash in half, scoop seeds, salt/pepper/olive oil the halves, place in a baking dish, and roast at 400F until tender (probably like an hour, but it depends on the size of your squash).
2. Manage to slice squash in half, scoop seeds, and break into chunks that fit in the slow cooker before the salt/pepper/olive oil. Cook on low while you’re at work (supposedly 8 hours, but, let’s be real here and call it more like 9 or 10… grad school… ugh…) or for 3-4 hours on high.
3. LAZIEST METHOD EVER. Wash squash. Place in baking dish of some sort. Cook in oven at 300F until tender when pricked with a fork (2 hours for these small guys). Win!
After the squash is cooked, let it cool while you prep your other filling ingredients. Slice an onion, 3-5 cloves of garlic, and a carton of your favorite mushrooms.
Yes, that is a whole ton of scooped butternut squash in the background. I used about half of it for another recipe, so the yield was approximately 2 c of filling for this particular lasagne.
Get those mushrooms cooking in a sauté pan on medium heat with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Go easy on the salt here, we’ve got a lot of reducing left to do. Once they’re looking tender, add the onions, and cook a few minutes more until the onions begin to soften. Then, add your garlic and your greens. Collards are very dense and fibrous, so they require a little longer cooking, but I happen to like the flavor and texture. You can use any dark, leafy green that you like (kale, spinach, chard, etc.) in this filling.
Add some more salt and pepper and 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves. You can use dried. I won’t judge. Also add 1/4c of dry white wine, keeping the heat at medium and letting it reduce the mushroom juices and concentrate the wine flavor. This will take 5-10 minutes, so keep an eye on it and wait until the liquid in the pan is looking syrup-y, then turn off the heat. Meanwhile, you’ll prepare the squash filling. If you haven’t already cut your squash, removed the seeds, and scooped the insides in to a bowl, you’ll need to do that.
I have a brief Public Service Announcement: if you, like me, enjoy creamy blended vegetable soups and baby-food-smooth squash sauces, please (pretty please!) get yourself an immersion blender. Sure, you could use a regular blender or a food processor, but the beauty of the immersion blender is that it blends your concoction right in the bowl you’re using! Meaning less time transferring hot, messy food and fewer items to clean.
Ok, my love of my kitchen tools aside, you’ll want to add salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg (just a pinch!) and one egg to your squash in the blending container. Next, continue to add milk until the squash is around the consistency of a smoothie, which will be several cups and will depend on how moist your squash was to start. Make sure to get all the chunks of squash to ensure you have smooth sauce.
Layering time. Start with 1/4” of squash sauce in the bottom of a greased 9X13 pan. On top of the squash, place a layer of no-boil lasagne noodles, breaking if needed to completely cover the pan. Add a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and another thin layer of squash sauce. Then, add a layer of filling. I like to add more cheese, again, after the filling, but I am from Wisconsin, so I take my cheese layers pretty seriously. Continue in this fashion until you’ve reached the top of your pan, trying to end with noodles-squash-cheese (from bottom to top). I also added parmesan, in addition to the mozzarella, just for the very top. I recommend this because it smells and tastes awesome in the end. Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes, until browned on top and bubbling on the sides. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Enjoy your lasagne with a cold, season-appropriate beverage. The squash sauce makes this one pretty special! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Lasagne
Based on this recipe from The Kitchn
Prep/4, Leftovers/5, Guilt Factor/3, Overall/4.5
1 box no-boil lasagne noodles (I recommend Barilla brand, but any brand will do)
2.5 c cooked butternut squash
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2-4 c low-fat milk
1 package mushrooms
2.5 c chopped dark leafy greens (collards, chard, spinach, or kale)
3-5 cloves garlic
1 white or yellow onion
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste
1/4 c dry white wine or cooking wine
3c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
To prepare the lasagne:
1. Chop the mushrooms and onion, mince the garlic. On medium heat, sauté the mushrooms in olive oil and lightly add salt and pepper. Cook until just tender. Add the onion, and cook until tender, a few minutes more. Add the greens, garlic, thyme, and white wine. Cook until greens are tender and juices are reduced and syrupy. Turn off heat.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Oil a 9X13 baking dish and set aside.
3. Prepare the butternut squash sauce. Add the egg, nutmeg, and light amounts of salt and pepper to the cooked butternut squash. Puree with an immersion blender, slowly adding milk until the mixture becomes the consistency of a smoothie.
4. Layer the lasagne. Add a 1/4” layer of butternut squash sauce to the bottom of the pan and completely cover with noodles. Add another layer of squash sauce, and sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. Add a layer of mushroom filling, a layer of noodles. Repeat until pan is filled, ending with a layer of noodles followed by a layer of squash. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top and add all of the parmesan cheese.
5. Bake at 375F for 40-50 min. Lasagne should have browned cheese on top and be bubbling on the sides. Let rest 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.