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Butternut Squash Lasagna

Nothing goes to waste in our house – not even the kitchen waste from fruit and vegetable peelings and seeds  that my husband buries in the soil to add nutrients and reduce our garbage imprint.  As a consequence, tiny seedlings occasionally burst through the dirt in our garden and are ignored long enough that they become sturdy little plants. In this case, the little seedlings emerged unintentionally from a batch of vegetable trimmings that were composted under the soil earlier this year. By the time we noticed them, we had already allocated all the space in our vegetable garden to other plants. So we transferred the little fledglings to a spot in the front yard near the air conditioner and yew bushes. By midsummer, the little plants that we initially thought were zucchini were sprawled all along the ground and clambered up the yew bushes, their tendrils and vines wending their way from one shrub to another. Before we knew it, we noticed what appeared to be butternut squash babies hanging amid the branches of the yew bushes.  What started as seeds in our kitchen vegetable waste bin developed into at least five or six healthy, hearty butternut squash! Now we were ready to go full cycle again and take the squash back to the kitchen.

I had already been thinking of making a butternut squash lasagna, and when I saw Marie’s version on  Proud Italian Cook, that just sealed the deal. I changed a few things in mine, like adding the sausage, but loved her idea of roasting garlic and letting it steep in the béchamel sauce along with a sprig of sage. You could easily make this a vegetarian dish, however, by eliminating the sausage. It would still be “crazy good” as Marie says. When you’re spending the time it takes to make this recipe, you might as well use the best quality ingredients you can find. That goes from the squash and the sausage to the lasagna noodles and the parmesan. Grate your own from a good chunk of parmigiano reggiano. Please don’t use those green cans purporting to be grated parmesan. Since I was making homemade lasagna noodles, I prepared the dish in two stages. The day before serving, I peeled the squash and cut it into slices about 1/2 inch thick, sprinkled them with salt, pepper and rosemary, and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour. October 2009 274 After they were nicely cooked and caramelized, I stored them overnight in the fridge. October 2009 275 While the squash was roasting, I also roasted a whole clove of garlic, drizzled with some olive oil. October 2009 280 I also cooked the sausage a day ahead. I took the casings off some really good, organic sausage, then fried them and broke them up into bits. This sausage is made from locally raised, pastured pigs and has very little fat. It’s delicious and is sold at Whole Foods in the New Jersey/New York/Connecticut area under the name “Simply Grazin.” October 2009 278 The next day, I made the lasagna noodles. You can use store bought fresh lasagna noodles (Rana is a good brand) if you like and I’m sure it will be delicious, but once you’ve tried it with homemade lasagna noodles, it’s hard to go back. If you want to try it, use my pasta primer here. October 2009 303-1   I made the béchamel sauce, and steeped the sage leaves and roasted garlic in it for a while.October 2009 304 I boiled the lasagna noodles. It took only one minute.October 2009 306While I prepared the ricotta mixture, I drained the lasagna noodles, draping them over the surface of the pot, and counter, making sure to keep some moisture under them so they wouldn’t stick to the pot. October 2009 308 Now you’re ready to assemble. Start by spreading a layer of béchamel at the bottom of the lasagna pan. Layer in some pasta, then spread the ricotta mixture and some sausage over that. October 2009 309 Now layer in some cooked butternut squash. October 2009 310 Drizzle a little of the béchamel over the squash, and sprinkle over a little parmesan, then start over again, with another layer of lasagna noodles. October 2009 311 Repeat the process until you have three layers of noodles. Finish with a layer of béchamel and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. You can add more layers of pasta and filling if you like, but be sure to increase the amounts for the béchamel and the filling too. October 2009 312 Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 3/4 hour or until golden brown on the top. You can pre-make everything and store it in the refrigerator overnight. In that case, make sure you remove it from the fridge ahead of time and let it come to room temperature. If not, you’ll need extra baking time in the oven to heat it through. It should look bubbly and golden on the top when it’s ready. October 2009 314 The hardest part  is waiting 10 minutes before cutting to allow it to solidify a little. But if you wait, you’ll be rewarded with these compact, delicious layers of goodness.  October 2009 335 Here’s my recipe: Butternut Squash and Sausage Lasagna Printable Recipe Here Homemade lasagna noodles or store-bought 1 medium butternut squash, sliced and roasted 1 1/2 pounds sausage, sautéed and cut into pieces Ricotta Filling 2 cups ricotta 2 eggs 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded salt, pepper 1/4 cup minced parsley Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl.  Béchamel Sauce 3 T. butter 2 T. flour 3 1/2 cups milk – I only had skim milk so I added: 1/2 cup cream (or 4 cups whole milk) salt, white pepper to taste a few grinds of freshly ground nutmeg a small bunch of sage a few roasted garlic cloves parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top and in between layers Mix all the ingredients for the ricotta filling.  For the béchamel, melt the butter in a pan and add the flour, stirring a couple of minutes at medium heat to cook the flour. Add the milk and cream a little at a time, stirring all the while. (It’s best if you heat the milk first but I forgot to do this step and it was still ok. ) Use a whisk to break up any lumps. Add the sage leaf and some of the roasted garlic cloves. Season the béchamel with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens somewhat. You don’t want it super-thick like mayonnaise but you don’t want it to be as thin as milk either. Remove the garlic cloves and sage leaves. Pour a little of béchamel on the bottom of the lasagna pan. Add a layer of the noodles, then spread some of the ricotta mixture over that, followed by some sausage and some squash. Pour a little béchamel over the squash and sprinkle a little parmesan. Add another layer of noodles, ricotta, sausage and squash, followed by a little béchamel sauce and parmesan. Finish with another layer of noodles, a generous covering of béchamel, then a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 3/4 hour or until golden brown on top. butternut squash lasagna, simply grazin, homemade pasta, sausage

This Post Has 29 Comments
  1. It must have been a pleasant surprise to find such nice squash growing from those vines!

    I like how you ruffled your lasagna edges Linda! Very pretty touch.

    A sage and garlic infused bechamel sauce paired with sweet roasted butternut squash and spicy sausage bits must have been such a delicious flavor combination, and it must have filled your home with such wonderful autumn essences while it cooked. Mmmm

  2. I'm just about ready to post another butternut squash recipe, I can't get enough of it! Now with your fresh lasagna noodles and sausage, I'm totally sold on this!! Thanks for the shout out my friend! Love your tutorial and the story about your growing squash.

  3. MMM! MMM! MMM! Count me in! I LOVE butternut squash and I've been saving a recipe for a "rainy day", but your looks much tastier! Last year I happily raised a few "volunteer" vines too…thanks to my compost 🙂 By the end of the summer they were half way out into the yard…YIKES! Great photos by the way! They are a definite help for someone like me 🙂 ~ & Co.

  4. That is the cutest butternut squash plant I've ever seen. It just give me an idea where to grow them next season.

    Of course your lasagna looks so good too, and it must tasted delicious.

  5. I just love these surprises- when a plant unexpectedly pops up- to reward you for being so kind to the earth! I also saw this on Proud Italian Cook site and have been itching to try it. Looking at your fresh lasagna noodles and scrumptious squash is a good reminder – it looks so wonderful.

  6. Absolutely delicious. I just tried it out today and let me just say I may be making this for thanksgiving! Thank you very much for posting and God bless you.

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