Monday, July 11, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna

After being very carnivorous recently, I totally blame steak houses and my hubby for saying yes whenever I said "I feel like having steak for dinner.", I woke up yesterday and said to myself how I need to say no to meat!

I love meat, there is no mistake in there.
But my body craves for colourful fruits and vegetable. So what my body needs, my body gets. I happen to live not so far from a traditional market and I love how cheap fruits and vegetables there. So I went there, grabbed some ripe mangoes for the three of us and a cute medium sized butternut squash. Why butternut squash? Because it has a lovely texture, high in fiber, and perfect for this recipe I've been wanting to try for quite sometimes.

This recipe is taken from the book Giada's Family Dinner. I was reluctant at first to try it, but hey..if I use pumpkin and butternut squash to make curry, I'm pretty sure it wont taste bland with all the herbs inside.

So here is the recipe:

  • 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
  • 3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 12 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 cookies 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 375F.
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 3 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 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 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.

A little note here, I halved the recipe because there are just the three of us. I also suggest that if you don't have amaretti, you can sprinkle a little amaretto liqueur, or almond essence on wheat cookies, or just omit it.

Make sure that you put a decent amount of salt in the butternut squash or else you will have too sweet of layers of butternut squash puree.
I did not use fresh basil, but here is the catch; I use my home made pesto sauce because I always have it frozen and ready, I put it straight away in the thickened milk and by golly! I will do that step again tomorrow to make some fettuccine sauce for Amiko. YAY!

Aight, I hope you will try the recipe. It is a healthier choice for comfort food. It is great for kids because you will not have to burden them with their daily vegetable intake. Enjoy!

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