Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Foods-Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

This is my first New England fall and many people have requested fall foliage pictures but apparently the fall colors won't truly hit for a few weeks so it is coming I promise!

We are visiting an apple orchard this weekend to pick apples, drink fresh cider and sample the famous cider doughnut so I'll post about that soon also. Fall has always been my favorite season and as soon as mid September hits I start decorating for Halloween, lighting the fall scent candles (I am loving Autumn Leaves by Yankee Candle) and my personal favorite, start cooking with fall flavors.

Fall flavors are my absolute favorite. The flavors are rich, decadent and meant to warm you up from head to toe. Once the leaves start turning it is my license to start making pumpkin cinnamon rolls, maple glazed acorn squash, apple butterscotch tarts, and of course, the subject of this entry: roasted butternut squash lasagna

Butternut squash is a delicious squash that has a fairly sweet flavor so to marry it in a lasagna with sage, nutty Parmesan cheese and salty, smoky bacon...can it get any better?!?

First step in this delicious dish is to roast your squash. You need about 3 cups of squash puree so in my experience you need two regular sized squash or one of those huge walmart monstrosities that make you worry about growth hormones. Now, this is your first chance to add some flavor so after I peel and cut up my squash I flavor it with rubbed sage, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss it in an oven for 40 minutes or until you squash is nice and squishy.
Ta Da! After
So eat a few pieces of your yummy squash but toss the rest in your blender (if you have a nice and powerful one-which I don't so I use my immersion blender and puree it)
I only put this picture on here to show how awesome my immersion blender is and the puree is actually ridiculously tasty! It would make a delicious ravioli filling or you could add some chicken stock and you have a great soup.
Now, what is a lasagna without sauce? Nasty and dry! So have now onto the bechamel sauce! Remember earlier how I wrote that this lasagna has a strong sage flavor? Well you chop up your sage leaves and let them get nice and crispy in your melted butter (this smells divine, try not to swoon).

Meanwhile, go ahead and fry up your bacon ( I used turkey bacon since I am watching my girlish figure but I think pancetta would be ridiculously delicious). Once your bacon is done, chop it up into little pieces and set aside. This is also a good time to go ahead and cook your lasagna noodles. I usually can fit four layers of pasta with this recipe so cook as many noodles as you need and set them aside. I like to lay my cooked noodles out on waxed paper because if you leave them sitting together they will stick together like crazy.
Bacon frying, sage crisping and noodles cooking...I will warn you that this recipe has many dishes. Try to con your significant other into doing them for you since you are "slaving away" at the stove :)
So back to the the sage is nice and crispy, add your flour and stir it together and cook over medium heat till it is a nice golden brown color. At this point I like to add salt, pepper, and some nutmeg so season to your own taste. Once it is a nice color, go ahead and add the milk and stir until thickened-usually around 5-10 minutes. Toss in your chopped up bacon and now it is time to assemble.
My assembly area
Now, spread a ladle full of your sauce and a scoop of the puree in the bottom of your pan and put your first layer of noodles. Now, the fun part! Put another couple ladle scoops of sauce onto the noodles along with about 1/3 of your puree. Mix it all together till everything is evenly distributed and then sprinkle 1/4 of the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and add another layer of noodles.
Building the masterpiece!
Repeat until your top layer and then spoon the rest of your sauce on top of the lasagna and top with the rest of your shredded cheese.
Finished product. I love using glass pans because you can see the layers and beautiful colors.
Now all that is left is baking. Cover it with foil and toss it in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, uncover and put it back in for about 10 minutes or as long as it takes for the cheese to get all melted and browned.
Delicious piece of beans are optional
I know this has quite a few steps but honestly, it is ridiculously delicious and it makes your home smell so yummy. I also love lasagnas because they get even better the next day and Logan and I can eat it for several meals.It is also a recipe that can be adjusted to your tastes; for example, next time I make this I will probably toss in some spinach to get more vegis in there and also for a nice texture and flavor contrast to the squash. You can also play around with adding meat but in my opinion it doesn't really need it.If you aren't careful this dish can become sweet from the butternut squash so season liberally-I think I may add some rosemary also next time to get an even nicer herb flavor (plus I love using things from the garden)

Happy Cooking!

This started out as a family recipe but I have edited it quite a bit so feel free to make it your own!

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

 Lasagna noodles ( I like to use whole wheat)
4 Tbs. Butter
a bunch of fresh sage leaves, chopped (original called for 6 but trust me, you need more...I would guess around 15/20?)
4 Tbs. Flour
3 Cups of milk (I use skim and it works fine. Original called for 2 cups milk, 1 cup heavy cream but once again, watching girlish figure and honestly it tastes rich and delicious without it)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese ( I love Parmesan in this recipe because it has a nice nutty flavor so I increased it from 1 oz and decreased the mozzarella)
1 1/2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
3 Cups of roasted butternut squash puree
1/3 cup chopped bacon ( I heartily approve of turkey bacon. It was very yummy but seriously, if you try pancetta please tell me how delicious it is so I can live vicariously through you)
Salt, Pepper and Nutmeg to taste

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