Thursday, 4 December 2014
This isn't something that I make really often . . . as it is kind of a lot of work . . . but every once in a while I love to treat us to it.
Coz, we love butternut squash and we love lasagne. (Ok, so I love lasagne, the toddster just tolerates it.)
It's quite, quite delicious though . . . and he doesn't seem to complain overly much when I make it. To me it is a wonderful treat . . . something special indeed.
The butternut squash gets all caramelized and sweet, along with the onions.
The sage adds a beautiful herby touch, without being over powering.
And that bechamel . . . so buttery and rich . . . all layered with gruyere and Parmesan cheeses.
This just can't get any better. Seriously.
*Pan Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagne*
Lasagne is always a bit involved and takes some time and effort to put together, but it is always worth it at the end. This version is truly delicious and worth every precious moment taken. It really doesn’t take that much time if you plan it properly. If you start off by making your béchamel sauce first, you can prepare the vegetables while that is cooking and thickening. The rest is a dawdle, especially if you use fresh lasagne sheets that have no need of cooking!
For the Béchamel:
3 ½ cups milk
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly bruised
1 thick slice of peeled onion
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of parsley
3 ½ TBS butter
3 ½ TBS flour
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Filling:
1 large butternut squash
(3 pounds in weight or a little less)
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
20 or so fresh sage leaves, or 1 ½ tablespoons dried
½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 TBS of olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and cut into ½ inch squares
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces of no boil lasagne noodles
Lightly grease a 9 by 12 inch baking dish and set it aside. Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Put the milk, garlic, slice of onion, bay leaf and parsley spring in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Cover, remove from the heat and set aside to infuse the milk with the aromatics.
Peel the butternut squash and chop it into ½ inch cubes.Chop two of the garlic cloves together with the sage and the parsley, making a kind of an herby mixture redolent of garlic. Heat the 2 TBS of the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and the chopped squash and cook over high heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the squash is fairly tender and starting to caramelise in a few places. This should take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic/herb mixture along with the nuts. Cook for a few minutes longer and then remove from the heat and set aside.
Melt the butter for the béchamel in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for about one minute. Strain the milk and then slowly whisk it into the butter/flour mixture, whisking it until it is smooth and beginning to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and allow it to cook for about 15 minutes or until the flour is well cooked and the sauce is nicely thickened. Stir occasionally. Season with ½ tsp of salt and some black pepper. I also like to grate in a little fresh nutmeg to taste.
Now comes the fun part.
Spread ½ cup of the sauce in the baking dish. Lay 1/3 of the noodles over top. Cover these with half of the squash mixture, 1 cup of the sauce, half of the Gruyere cheese and a third of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat and then add a third layer of the noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over top and then the remaining Parmesan. Loosely tent with foil.
Place in the heated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20 minutes longer, until bubbly and golden. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
This goes really well with a mixed salad of greens and vegetables.