Monday, November 8, 2010

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Navigation is one of the most highly sought after talents of mine.  Turn right, turn left.  Merge on to US-36.  I can do it all.  

Oh, wait.  No, I can't.  You do not want me as co-captain of your ship.  Now, I used to be slightly more skilled in the navigation department.  But as soon as I met Scot, captain of every ship, lover of maps, with his manly "sense of direction" ... I lost any skills I may have built up.  

What IS a sense of direction anyways?  How would I know what way I am facing when I am INSIDE?  I turned like 400 corners and went inside many locked doors.  Cardinal directions should not be used indoors, right?

Well, Scot knows.  Always.  Which way north is.  And lots of other weird people too.  

I have a hard enough time keeping track when I have the mountains as my guide, which "apparently" are always west of me in Boulder.  

So, on the rare occasion that I do drive nowadays, it is often torture.  And I drove all over the Boulder metro area these past couple of weekends running errands and trying to find amaretti cookies (no luck), and I decided that I should probably practice more.  Or something.  Or at least pay attention when I am not driving.  Nah.

This recipe and another one I made recently called for amaretti cookies.  But they don't exist in Boulder.  I found some almond cookies that worked just fine.  I found that I was indifferent about having almond cookies in either recipe.  However, I still wish I could try the real deal!

Regardless of my navigational imperfections, I can always fall back on the fact that I can cook a mean butternut squash lasagna.  Seriously!  When I first saw this recipe, I was grossed out.  It sounded so heavy and too sweet, no texture.  But I saw that it had very good reviews.  I thought I would give it a shot.  And it really was amazing!  I love the balance of flavors.  Definitely not too sweet.  I especially enjoyed the whole milk mozzarella, which I felt was tangier than a skim or part-skim mozzarella.  Maybe I just made that up, though.

As Scot has recently been saying (possibly too often) "nailed it".

We had this with a nice fall salad with pomegranate seeds, apples, blue cheese, pecans and baby arugula.  

Butternut Squash Lasagna

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 amaretti cookie, crumbled, optional
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups milk
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet and then cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the amaretti cookie and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender*. Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 1 layer of lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/3rd of the sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 2 more times.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the
vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

(Servings: 6-8, Prep time: 1 hour, Cook time: 1 hour, Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5

1 comment:

  1. yummy! definite must-make .. thanks for a new take on the traditional recipe.