And I love it even more for the intrusion. Not long ago, I wouldn't have dared put a vegetable in my lasagna (besides tomato sauce), but this delectable yellow gourd has turned a lot of my preconceived notions about vegetables and meatless dinner upside down. Even my husband has been blown away by how delicious and filling a meatless entree can be. I'm begging you as a friend to please, please put all your inhibitions aside and make this lasagna. Okay. Now that I've reduced myself to pleading, let's proceed to the "how" of this culinary adventure.
Begin by peeling and dicing a butternut squash and one or two sweet potatoes or yams. Side note: this is not an expensive dish. I purchased a medium sized squash for only a little over $3 and it played a starring role in 3 dinners, plus leftovers! You want to end up with 3 1/2 to 4 cups altogether. Spread them on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with nutmeg, salt and pepper; toss to coat.
Roast in the oven until they are slightly crispy and soft enough to poke a fork through.
While the squash is roasting, you can get to work on the cheese filling. The first step in the filling is to cook onions (or shallots) and garlic in brown butter. I didn't have any shallots, so I substituted some sweet onion, which seemed to work fine.
If you haven't browned butter before, you'll find a tutorial here.
The original recipe also called for mascarpone cheese, which sounds amazing, but which I could not find, even at our local Safeway. So, if you can't find it in your area either, you'll find a substitute recipe below. It was delicious. Combine the browned butter, onions and garlic with the mascarpone (or masquerading mascarpone- say that 10 times fast!) and add Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
When the squash and potatoes are done, transfer them to a bowl and mash until smooth with a pastry blender. I whipped them up even creamier with an electric mixer.
Now, you're finally ready to layer!
Some of the comments on the blog I found this recipe on complained that the bottom noodles were crispy, so it was recommended that you put a bit of the squash on the bottom of the pan first- which I did (and it turned out perfect).
Cover that with lasagna noodles. I discovered oven-ready lasagna noodles for the first time on our last shopping trip and had to try them. I must say, I am impressed. They turned out perfectly, no pre-cooking required! Squash mixture goes on top of that, followed by the cheese filling.
Sprinkle a bit more cheese on that, then repeat! This is probably the easiest part of the whole ordeal. :)
Pop it in the oven and wait for delicious aromas to start pouring forth. They will.
Usually you can be fairly alerted to the presence of a tasty meal by the smell. And this dish is no exception whatsoever. I knew I had hit on something good when my husband kept coming in the kitchen, sniffing and saying things like, "Boy, that smells amazing!" It did. We could hardly wait for the pan to come out of the oven and cool long enough to slice. Hubby, hovering, says, "Can we eat it yet?" Good things come to those who wait.
There are so many flavors packed into this hearty dish I don't even know where to start. Which is why, I beg you, please make it for yourself! One thing we remarked to each other as we were eating (pulling our mouths away from our forks long enough to speak was pretty remarkable, come to think of it) was that you could distinguish each separate flavor as you were eating. Squash, smooth and rich. Then tangy and creamy cheese. Nutmeg, aromatic and spicy. Fragrant and pungent garlic. A hint of mellow sweet potato. It was all there. Together, but somehow...separate. Each bite was packed with alternately bursting and mellowing flavors. What an experience! In the words of the blogger who drew me in: "It's like eating a giant plate of autumn." I couldn't have said it better myself.
|"I know that this mess of cheesy squash doesn’t look like much, but I gotta tell you that it’s probably the most visually underrated dish I have ever made." - How Sweet It Is blog|
Roasted Butternut & Sweet Potato Lasagna
adapted from "How Sweet It Is"
serves 4-6 as main dish
enough lasagna sheets (preferably no-boil) to cover 8x8 pan twice (I used 4 Ronzoni oven-ready sheets)
1/3-1/2 of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
1-2 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cubed (about 1 1/2 cups)
12 oz. mascarpone cheese or substitute (see recipe below)
3 TB butter
1/4 cup finely diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
olive oil for drizzling, about 2 tsp.
In shallow baking pan, drizzle squash and potatoes with oil, sprinkle with half the salt and half the pepper and the nutmeg; toss to coat. Roast at 350 for 40-50 min. or until soft and slightly crispy. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat skillet to medium, add butter, onion and garlic. Saute 2-3 min. or until butter is browned, but not burned and onions and garlic are fragrant and transparent. Cool slightly. Combine mascarpone with onions, garlic and butter. Stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan.
Mash squash and potatoes until smooth and spreadable. Grease 8x8 in. pan. Coat bottom of pan with small amount of squash mixture. Top with lasagna noodles. Coat with half of remaining squash mixture, followed by half of the cheese mixture. Top this with half of the remaining Parmesan and half the mozzarella. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Bake in 350 oven for 45 min or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
Mascarpone cheese substitute:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half cream
2 1/2 TB sour cream
Mix all together until smooth and creamy.
Sources: How Sweet It Is