I’m not gonna sugar-coat it. Lasagna is hard people. This is not your one-meal, 30-minute dinner dish. But if you’re okay with that, this dish is certainly worth the effort.
If you’re like me, sometimes you’re in the mood to get a lot of dishes dirty. Sometimes we want a challenge! Sometimes we need that cathartic kitchen time during which we are so consumed by the recipe that we don’t have time to think, eat, or breath anything else. If you’re in the mood for that kind of cooking session, this dish is certainly worth the effort.
I never loved to cook as much as I do now. That actually made me nervous when I started this blog. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to sustain the blog because I probably didn’t love cooking enough. Now, cooking is my thing. I love to eat too, but the act of creating… Sometimes it is simple and quick and other times it’s messy like this lasagna. Both types of artwork have their place in the kitchen.
I think my (so far) undying love of cooking also has to do with the fact that no one expects it. No one expects me to have dinner on the table. I’m not responsible for feeding any mouths other than my own. I am simply cooking for cooking’s sake. And when I do that, sometimes I like to get a little lost in it. Like with this lasagna.
So let me try to bring it back. [Just so you know, I typed four more paragraph’s about cooking and how special it is to me, but that was the length of an entire post in and of itself. This is supposed to be a blog post about lasagna, for heaven’s sake!]
Obviously, this is not your traditional lasagna. The roasted butternut squash is sweet and slices like butter. That flavor pairs really well with the garlicky spinach and ricotta mixture and the warm oregano. I had to have two slices at each sitting – one slice is for eating like a normal human and the second slice is for eating layer by layer – peeling that cheese off the top, dangling a noodle off my fork, spooning up ricotta, and savoring bites of squash.
Mmm… a great way to kick off your fall food repertoire.
And I have so many more fall foods in my repertoire that I can’t wait to share with you! Soon to come: Pumpkin-Carrot Loaf with Cider Glaze, Beet & Turnip Hash with Runny Eggs, and a giant handful of Thanksgiving recipes. So be on the lookout!
Autumn Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Spinach
- 1 medium buttercup kabocha, or butternut squash, peeled and seeded
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 sheets whole grain lasagna noodles
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups fresh spinach I used half red spinach
- 2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 cups part-skim ricotta
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dry
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Cut squash into thin slices and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer and roast 15 minutes. Toss the squash and roast about 15 minutes more or until the squash is soft. Remove from oven and set aside; leave your oven on.
While the squash is roasting, cook the lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Once al dente, drain and rinse under cold water to prevent sticking.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Stir in spinach and 1 tablespoon basil. Cook about 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium saucepan, heat last tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk an da pinch of salt; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue whisking for 2 more minutes or until white sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
Stir ricotta into kale. Add egg and oregano; stir. Season with salt and pepper.
Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about half the sauce evenly in the bottom of dish. Arrange of a layer of 3 noodles over the sauce. Gently spread half the ricotta and spinach mixture over the noodles and top with roasted squash. Sprinkle half the mozzarella over squash. Top with remaining ricotta and spinach mixture, followed by the remaining noodles. Top with remaining sauce, basil, then mozzarella.
Coat a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Tent foil, sprayed side down, over lasagna. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes to brown the cheese slightly. Let lasagna rest about 5 minutes before cutting.