In my book, winter calls for a plethora of warm, hearty dishes. When it is cold outside, my biggest desire is to build a fire and curl up with a good book and a full cup of tea all while dinner bakes, filling the house with mouth-watering aromas.
Butternut squash lasagna is one of my favorite winter meals. It is a more labor intensive menu item, but well worth the effort. I love this meal for a few reasons. First, the flavor is perfect. The homemade white sauce can be edited to your taste (thus how it reaches perfection) and butternut squash is my favorite winter squash (although acorn squash does play a close second). Second, it makes enough for a crowd and is easily doubled (or tripled if necessary). Finally, by cutting the sausage, this can also be a vegetarian meal. I’ve served this to a group of 15 by making separate pans in order to accommodate our friends of both the meat-lover and veggie-lover persuasion. And, not only was everyone content at the end of the meal, best of all, there were leftovers for the next day. Yum.
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 T olive oil
1/2 lb Italian pork sausage (sweet or spicy)
1 1.5-2lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
Salt and black pepper
1/2 c water
1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
3 1/2 c milk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 heaping T basil
12 no boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1/3 C Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat oil in large skillet. Add sausage and cook until crumbled but still pink. While sausage is cooking, peel, seed, and cube the squash. Add squash to sausage and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour water into skillet and then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until squash in tender (approximately 20 minutes). Use potato masher or a fork to mash the squash and sausage together.
While squash is cooking, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk for one minute. Add basil, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens slightly.
Lightly butter a 9×13 pan. Spread 3/4 c white sauce in prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan. Top with 1/3 of the squash mixture, 1/2 cup of white sauce and then 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Repeat layering three more times.
Cover the lasagna dish with tinfoil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and remove tinfoil. Sprinkle lasagna with remaining mozzarella and all of the Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes (or until browned). Let lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.