butternut squash and chard lasagna
This summer, I decided to grow butternut squash. I love squash and thought it would be so cool to watch these giant fruits grow on a vine outside of my window. I threw some seeds into a garden patch on the hill beside my house and hoped for the best. I ended up with 25 squash. Yes, 25. And, had we not had a couple of days of frost that killed off the 10 foot vines, there would have been more.
So, squash growing was successful but what to do with 25 squash? Make lasagna. That's what.
This lasagna, stuffed with garlicky chard, creamy butternut squash puree and topped with a clove scented brown butter béchamel sauce is earthy, aromatic, savoury and so delicious. It's also not too cheesy which, for me, makes it easier to eat than a typical lasagna. Though there are a few steps, this dish is not hard to make at all and you end up with a truly impressive, seasonal, fall dinner.
9-12 dried lasagna noodles (I used spinach noodles) cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 medium sized butternut squash
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
3 tbsp minced herbs (chives, basil, sage)
1 small onion - minced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch chard leaves - roughly chopped
chard stems - diced
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 cups milk
pinch ground cloves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper to taste
1. preheat the oven to 400°
2. cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. rub the skin of the squash with a little olive oil and place, cut side down, on a baking sheet. bake until the squash is easily pierced with a sharp knife - approximately 1 hour.
3. once the squash has cooled slightly, scrape the flesh from the skin and place in a blender. puree until smooth and place in a bowl.
4. to squash puree, add dried sage, nutmeg, ricotta, minced herbs and salt and pepper to taste. set aside.
5. in a pan, heat olive oil and add onion, garlic, crushed red pepper and chard stems. sautee 1-2 minutes until the onions begin to soften. add the chard leaves and cook until just wilted. remove from the heat.
6. to make béchamel, heat butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. stir continuously until butter begins to brown and smells nutty. watch this carefully - if the butter burns, start again.
7. to make a roux, add flour to melted browned butter and stir 1-2 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
8. whisk milk into butter and flour mixture until smooth. whisk until thickened. 1-2 minutes. remove from the heat.
9. add grated parmesan, ground cloves, salt and pepper to béchamel.
10. after the béchamel has cooled slightly, quickly whisk in egg yolk.
11. to assemble lasagna, place 1/4 cup of tomato puree in the bottom of a baking dish. layer on lasagna noodles in one flat layer. spread 1/2 squash puree over noodle base. add another layer of noodles. spread chard mixture on top and top with another layer of noodles. spread remaining squash puree on top and place on another layer of noodles. top with all of the béchamel sauce.
12. bake lasagna in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until bechamel is puffed and golden brown.