Thursday, November 24, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna

So, I think I started a post about this last year and never finished it. Oops. Since I love cooking and I especially love cooking for my very appreciative husband, you are getting more food posts lately. I don't know if you all like that or not, but it's the most exciting thing in my life right now.

This recipe is one of my most requested recipes.  Friends ask about it every year. I have yet to have anyone tell me they have tried it on their own but maybe one of you will, especially any of you that have unused butternut squashes from their gardens still hanging around. I used the bones of a recipe I found from Bon Appetit but changed it a good deal and have stuck with my changes for years now because they worked well for me.

One of the tricks is to know how to handle butternut squash. Many people tell me they are scared of it or have no idea what to do with it. I have a few suggestions to start with.

First: use rubber gloves to handle it while cutting (If you don't, you will be left with this weird dry film that you can't get off your hands for a day no matter how much you wash them).

Second: use a big knife (this is not the time for your do-it-all little paring knife). Get your large chef knife or any other big and sharp knife to help make this easier on you. Winter squashes are tough when still raw.

Third: Separate the top portion and the bulby portions. They are much easier to peel separately.  If you get to choose your own squash at the store instead of using them from your own garden, get ones with long necks to get more stuff you can use.

Peel it by running your knife down the outside layer of the squash to reveal the bright orangey inside (that's the edible part).
For this recipe, chop it into 1/4 inch slices. Still use the bottom portion of the squash after you remove the seeds, those slices will just look like rings. 
Ok, now the hardest parts are over. Let's get cooking! Here's the recipe.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

1 9 oz. package of lasagna noodles

2 TBSP olive oil
1 chopped red onion
1 large package (or 2 small) of baby bella or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2/3 C chopped pecans

2 lb butterut squash (peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch slices)
1 14 oz. can chicken or vegetable broth
4 TBSP thyme
4 TBSP sage

2 15 oz. containers of lowfat cottage cheese
1 15 oz. container of blended hard cheeses (romano, parmesan, asiago)
1 egg (beaten)
salt and pepper

Start by boiling the lasagna noodles, according to package directions (you may use the no-boil kind but the edges still come out hard).

In a skillet, saute the mushrooms and onion in the olive oil until just soft (about 3 min) , and mix in chopped nuts. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

In same skillet, layer the squash slices (put rings on the bottom to allow more of the steam/liquid to cook the solid slices). Add in broth plus 1/2 the thyme and sage. Cover and let simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender but not falling apart (about 8 min.).

Mix together the cheeses, the egg and the rest of the thyme and sage. Add several turns of black pepper and a few shakes of salt to season.

Assemble the lasagna in 9 x 13 pan by layering cheeses, noodles, squash and mushroom mix a couple times. I usually make sure cheeses end up on top. Cover with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 min. covered, then 25 min. more uncovered. Let sit about 10 minutes before serving (or it will fall apart more while serving it... but it still tastes good). This works great to make the day before, both waiting to cook it the day of, or cooking it before and just reheating. I've tried it all. Always yummy.

p.s. If you are looking for other ways to use butternut squash, I have a few other recipes here and here

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