My husband is in love with squash, and his frequent refrain lately is, “when are you going to make butternut squash soup?” And, I plan on making it, but we need to find some other means of consuming the large store of squash in the pantry. I’ve made baby food, and Baby H loves it, but again, one baby can only eat so much squash. Plus, we have other veggies from our farm share/latest farmer’s market foray.
A big pan of pasta (or anything, really) is a boon in this house. It means one afternoon of cooking and then time off for doing things like playing with the baby or working on my dissertation. Hah. But, my casual response to the perennial question was, “I’m making butternut squash lasagna,” and I went about my day of playing with the baby and working on my dissertation (and doing laundry, etc., etc.).
With regular lasagna, I have become competent enough (the crock pot failure does not count) to throw something together and have a wonderful dish, but this pan is not the usual tomato sauce concoction I know so well. It would be a white sauce, and I’ve never done a white sauce. I didn’t want to do a white sauce.
So, I looked up several (maybe a dozen) recipes, looking, in vain, for a butternut squash recipe that has tomato sauce. No such thing, and upon some more thinking about it, that makes sense. It could be done, and it could even be tasty, but it was not in the cards. Besides, A just brought home three containers of milk.
I mostly followed the Good Housekeeping recipe, honestly, because it was one of the simplest. I tweaked it, according to what I had on hand and my own taste. I swapped out Swiss chard for kale and Parmesan for Romano. I added fenugreek because it’s good for nursing moms, and I like the taste. I opted to halve and bake the squash without peeling and cubing it as a time saver, since the squash needed to be mashed anyway. Sure it took a smidge longer to bake, but I played with a baby instead of standing around chopping and peeling.
- whole package of whole wheat lasagna noodles
- 1 large butternut squash, halved
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large bunch of kale (or other green), discard stems
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh if you have it)
- 4 cups milk (I used Lactaid)
- ¾ cup grated Romano cheese
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Halve the squash, never mind the seeds just yet. In a large cake pan (probably what you’ll use for the lasagna—why dirty another dish), lay the squash down and add two inches of water. Bake until the skin turns brown and it feels soft (varies with the size of the squash). Cook lasagna noodles as directed. Mind that they don’t stick together. When done, let cool a bit and spoon out the squash into a bowl, mashing it as you go. In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent. Next, tear the kale from the stems and put it into a large pot with the onions. Add ½ cup water and let the kale cook down. Add water as needed. Set aside. In same pot, melt butter (don’t let it burn) and add flour and thyme and nutmeg, whisking all the while. Cook for a minute. Slowly add the milk and mind that it does not scald or boil over. Bring it to a boil and boil for a minute, stirring all the while. Stir in cheese—put aside ¼ cup for topping—and remove from heat.
Assembly. Begin with a goodly amount of sauce on the bottom of your pan. Lay down the first layer of noodles. Next, layer the greens and onion mixture. Cover with sauce and another layer of noodles. Now, spread evenly the squash and cover with the final layer of noodles. Pour on the remaining sauce and sprinkle the Romano on top. I garnished with fresh twigs of thyme from my garden. Bake for 30 minutes, with foil, and ten more without foil. Let stand before serving. Enjoy!