This recipe is my take on the butternut squash lasagna recipe by Giada de Laurentiis. The fact she includes amaretti cookies has always been very curious to me, so this has been bookmarked for a while. Now that the Indian Summer is over and it is cool and the leaves browning from their previous glorious colors of red, orange, and yellow and falling, this comfort dish moved up to the top of my list. It seemed appropriately perfect for a Sunday night dinner at my house as we were making plans for Thanksgiving. This dish yields about 8 servings.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, this will be the first of a series of posts of recipes I am going to cover on dishes to consider for Thanksgiving! They will all be vegetarian, so you might consider it for a side dish or if you have a vegetarian at your table like I do, be a way to provide something more hearty than the usual sides of rolls, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Check out my Recipes Index page for other dishes that I have covered in the past.
The original recipe calls for basil, but I love the taste of sage for fall, not to mention when I buy a bunch of fresh sage, I love just crisping them up in a brown butter sauce for a simple weekday dinner. So I switched out the basil for sage.
Also, the original recipe also instructs you to take a 2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes which are then tossed in oil on a skillet then boiled/steamed until the squash is tender. The whole end result is to make a squash purée though, and I just didn’t want so spend all that to clean and cut. So I just cut it in half and roasted it in the oven until it was soft and I could scoop it into the food processor. If you wanted more of a shortcut you could probably start out with frozen squash.
In retrospect, although the recipe calls for no boil lasagna noodles, at least with the way mine turned out they were not the texture I was looking for- they were still firm and very doughy. If I make this again in the future I would take the time to use regular lasagna noodles and boil them before the layering step.
To lower the fat, you could do a mix of skim or fat free milk instead of whole milk, but I think having some portion of creaminess is nice for the sauce, not sure you would get that with a 100% substitution. Giada calls for whole-milk mozzarella cheese, but I used Tillamook Part Skim shredded mozzarella, and you could do a variation of using skim ricotta, or Gruyere or whatever cheese you’d like. For gluten or paleo diets I’ve heard of using zucchini instead of the lasagna noodles, and you could even use scrambled eggs instead of the cheese, and she suggests spinach lasagna sheets!
The amaretti cookies add a hint of nuttiness and crunch to the butternut squash- amaretti cookies are almond paste cookies, so you could switch it out for just using nuts instead if you can’t find the cookies. Honestly, I think I would add more cookies!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (~2-pound) butternut squash
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 3/4 cup lightly packed fresh sage leaves
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- First, making the squash purée. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the stem part at the top and button, then cut the squash in half lengthwise. If you have a hard time cutting it, peel some of the skin. Scoop out the strings and seeds until the skin is clean and smooth. You can roast the seeds if you want, but you don’t need them for this lasagna. Rub each half of the squash flesh with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil,. On a pan lined with foil, place each half flesh side down for about 45 min or so, until the flesh is soft, so that you will be able to scoop them into the processor. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor, since of course you don’t want to process hot food in there! Add the amaretti cookies and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper. Set aside.
- While the squash is roasting, this can be béchamel sauce making time. 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 for at least 5 minutes. As usual when blending hot liquids, when you transfer the liquid to the blender or food processor make sure you fill it no more than halfway (the food processor may have a marked liquid line). If you are using a blender, release one corner of the lid to prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions! I didn’t have this problem because around this time I was processing the squash with the cookies, which gave time for the sauce to cool down some before getting to this part. Anyway, put half the roux in your blender, add the sage and blend until smooth. Return the now half a batch of sage sauce to the rest of 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 set the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lightly grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread about a cup of the sauce over the dish, and arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom. Spread about 1/3 cup 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.
- Top with the rest of the sauce, and then 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.
This dish looks gorgeous with the colors- and I cursed that all I have is my point and shoot camera and the dark late October lighting because I don’t think these pics do it justice. I think it’s time to commit to making a light box/light tent with cardboard and some white plates at least!
Every week until Thanksgiving I plan to post a recipe for a vegetarian dish that can served, so stay tuned! Have you ever had butternut squash lasagana? Did you have it with white sauce or marinara? And what do you think of the addition of amaretti cookies?
Summary of the Vegetarian Thanksgiving Sides Series 2013:
- Mashed Brussels Sprouts
- Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Pears, and Hazelnuts recipe
- Four Greens with Garlic Saute
- Harvest Quinoa with Apples and Walnuts recipe
- Butternut Squash Lasagna in Béchamel sauce recipe
Thanks for reading!