Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne

  • 10-12 lasagne noodles (more if you’re making a big pan of lasagne)
  • one big butternut squash, halved, seeded and baked
  • a bunch of fresh spinach leaves, 8 ounces minimum
  • one large sweet onion, sliced, caramelized
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups bechamel sauce
  •  dash of nutmeg
  • salt and peppers (black and white)
  • grated parmesan
  • shredded mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take the squash halves, lightly grease the cut sides with olive oil, and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately one hour.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, scoop the squash into a mixing bowl.  Smash with a fork and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  4. Caramelize your onion and set aside.  No salt or pepper at this step.
  5. Wilt the spinach in a pan over medium heat.  Cool, chop, season with salt, black pepper, nutmeg and set aside.
  6. Prepare your bechamel sauce (half stick of butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup parmesan, 3 cups milk, salt, white pepper).  Set aside.
  7. Cook the noodles until al dente.  Use more or less noodles, depending on how big you want your tray of lasagne to be.
  8. In a baking dish large enough for the desired dish of lasagne, cover the bottom with several spoonfuls of bechamel sauce.
  9. Arrange a layer of lasagne noodles in the baking dish. Spread prepared squash evenly over the noodles.  Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella.
  10. Fold the spinach and onions into the ricotta.   Add another layer of noodles.  Spread some sauce, the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture, and cheeses evenly.
  11. Keep layering, alternating the vegetable layers, and ending with a plain noodle top.
  12. Cover the top with bechamel and cheeses.
  13. Bake uncovered for for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.
  14. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

I had forgotten how much time it takes to make lasagne.  This recipe in particular takes hours due to the vegetable prep.  The next time I make this I’ll prepare the vegetables the night before and assemble/bake the next day.  There are a billion of these squash and spinach lasagne recipes on the internet.  I bet virtually none of them tell you how long this sucker takes to make.

But it was worth it!  If you like butternut squash and you like spinach you will like this veggie pasta bake.  But in the effort of full disclosure I thought I’d screwed up this lasagne because when I got to the final naked noodle layer I realized I had left out a few steps.

I forgot to put any parmesan or mozzarella on any of my layers.  I forgot to add parmesan to the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture.  Too late to deconstruct so I put the dish in the oven and hoped for the best.  To my surprise I didn’t miss the missing cheeses.  The lasagne turned out OK.  Less cheese allowed the flavors of the vegetables to shine.

I guess this recipe is a keeper.

 

 

Marinara Sauce Number Two

I have a lot of cookbooks and one of my favorites is Cooking from an Italian Garden by Paola Scaravelli and Jon Cohen.  There are over 300 vegetarian recipes in this book.  Over the years I’ve made virtually none of the recipes in the book.  Yes, virtually zero.  This cookbook remains a favorite because it is inspirational.  You can prepare simple healthy meals without animal proteins.  The section on sauces alone is worth the price of admission.

The following is my adaptation of a flavorful marinara sauce that I recently prepared for a Stack Project recipe.

  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 stalk celery diced
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • handful fresh basil, chopped (or healthy pinch of dried basil if fresh is not available)
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped ( or dried, if fresh is not available)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  1. Saute the vegetables until wilted.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes, herbs and simmer uncovered for one hour.
  3. Salt lightly and add just enough sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
  4. Done.

Tips

Garlic???  By all means if you have to have garlic, use some.  The quality and acidity levels of canned tomatoes vary tremendously.  Use sugar only when necessary.  This sauce freezes well.