Since I am a lover of all things tomato sauce, tomato-based lasagna is one of my favorite foods ever. So, when I heard about this butternut squash lasagna, I was skeptical. But I was wrong. This lasagna was fantastic. The butternut squash adds a sweetness much like tomato sauce does in traditional lasagna. The cheeses add a great savory contrast to the squash, and everything is enlivened with the addition of the herbs. I added some swiss chard to give it some more texture and increase the healthiness factor. I also used sage and a bit of rosemary instead of basil because I think they complement the squash better. I also roasted the squash instead of boiling it as I think that enhances the sweetness more. I added some tofu and cottage cheese to the cheese mixture to give it some extra protein.
This dish is so hearty and flavorful, and it is great with a side of toasted garlic bread which helps to sop up the yummy sauce. This will definitely be a staple winter-time meal at our place.
Butternut Squash & Swiss Chard Lasagna (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
- 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
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 2 Tb butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- Pinch nutmeg (freshly grated)
- 3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh sage leaves
- 2 1/2 Tb fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup firm tofu, chopped into small pieces
- 2 cups (lightly packed) chopped swiss chard
- 12 lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
2. Heat the 2 Tb of oil and 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 sage and rosemary and blend until smooth. Return the sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Mix together 2 cups of mozzarella with the Parmesan, Pecorino, cottage cheese, and tofu. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
3. 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 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Spread a layer of the chard. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering 3 more times.
5. Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. 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.