November 06, 2008

Butternut Squash & Swiss Chard White Lasagna

1 medium to large butternut squash, sliced lengthwise and seeds removed
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 lb lasagna noodles
olive oil

for the filling:
1 large bunch Swiss chard, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

for the sauce:
3 cups milk
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
white pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Brush the butternut squash with the additional olive oil. Place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool slightly. Scoop out the insides. Mash. It should yield about 3 1/2 to 4 cups of squash. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and arrange in a single layer on baking sheets until ready for use.

For the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion until fragrant, then add the chard and sage. Saute until the chard is soft. Allow to cool slightly then combine with the ricotta, nutmeg, salt, pepper and paprika.

butternut squash & swiss chard lasagna

For the sauce: In a medium pan, melt the butter. Add the flour along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, garlic and whisk until smooth. Add the milk and whisk together until slightly thickened. Stir in Parmesan.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 375. Spread some sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Top with noodles then layer with a layer of squash then the chard-ricotta mixture and drizzle with sauce.

butternut squash & swiss chard lasagna

Repeat until the pan is full, then top with a final layer of noodle, the remaining sauce and Parmesan.

butternut squash & swiss chard lasagna

Bake covered for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly. Allow to sit about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

butternut squash & swiss chard lasagna

My thoughts:
I had never made a non-tomato based lasagna until this one but it turned out really well! I just sort of made it up as I went along to use up some Swiss chard I didn't have earmarked for anything special and a butternut squash I've had for ages but the flavors came together wonderfully. It is a great way to use seasonal ingredients in different way than they are normally found. It also freezes well.

Note: To cut down on some of the prep time you could roast the squash the night before and just let it warm up a bit while you make the sauce before spreading. However, the squash roasting is pretty hands off so it is easy to do that while you are making the cheese mixture.

I don't buy into the whole "no boil" lasagna noodles are just as good as the regular kind propaganda at all. It doesn't take that long to boil them and you will be in the kitchen anyway so why not just boil the noodles? I have had success freezing boiled lasagna and large shell shaped pasta for future use. I just freeze them in a single layer before transferring them to a freezer container