Friday, December 31, 2010

Amusing Lasagne

We were having a few friends in last week for a very casual get-together. My husband Tom asked what I was thinking of making and I said "oh, I don’t know. Some sort of amusing lasagne." And he put that in the email invitation he sent out. Well, there I was, stuck with coming up with amusing lasagne. I quite like butternut squash anytime but this time of year it just seems right.

This looks like a lot of work but it goes quickly. And better, there’s no reason you can’t have it completely done a day ahead. Refrigerate covered, but be sure to let it sit out at room temperature for an hour or so before baking.

In Italy, I’ve never had lasagne using the wavy noodles so common here; it’s always with flat noodles. So I’ve often made my own pasta sheets. What a treat, then, to find Barilla makes a noodle that is not only flat but doesn’t have to be boiled before using. If you have them, or prefer them, there’s no reason you can’t make this with the wavy noodles, boiled according to package instructions.

One note: each noodle in the assembly is a "lasagna." All of them together comprise "lasagne." That's the way I spell it, and so does the English version of "The Silver Spoon" cookbook, the Italian equivalent of the French "Larousse Gastronomique."


2 medium butternut squash
2 tbsp. good olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 leeks
½ cup butter, divided
¼ cup fresh sage leaves, minced
6 tbsp. flour
6 cups milk
8 oz. goat cheese, divided
1 large pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 box Barilla no-cook lasagne sheets
1 cup Italian cheese mix, divided

Preheat oven to 400. With a vegetable peeler, strip both the hard outside and the lighter flesh just under it from the squash. Cut in half lengthwise and with a spoon scoop out the seeds and fiber from the center. Cut into ½" cubes. Spread on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to cover. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and just starting to brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes.

Reduce the oven heat to 350
Cut a slice off the root end of the leeks. Cut off the dark green tops and discard. Cut the white and light green part in half lengthwise, rinse well, drain, then slice ¼" thick. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. butter over medium-low heat. Add the sliced leek and cook until just tender. Add the roasted squash cubes and the sage, toss to combine and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile in a saucepan, heat the remaining butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, a couple of minutes. Whisk in the milk and simmer until thickened. Add half the goat cheese and whisk until melted into the sauce. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, mix the ricotta and eggs.

Assemble the lasagne: Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish (or use cooking spray). Spread 2 cups of the sauce evenly on the bottom. Arrange four pasta sheets on top, overlapping slightly. Spread half the ricotta on top, then half the squash-leek mixture, then one cup of sauce. Sprinkle with one-third of the Italian cheese mixture. Repeat the layers. Finish with a layer of pasta sheets and the remaining sauce. Be sure the sauce/fillings are spread all the way to the edge of the pan. Crumble the remaining goat cheese over the top and sprinkle with the remaining Italian cheese mixture.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until top is nicely browned, another 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 15-20 minutes before cutting into squares to serve. Serves 8 to 12.

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DeniseH said...

Alyce, Oh, how I missed ordering that great crab and caviar from you this year.
I have made for years a very similar lasagne that I got out of Gourmet ions ago. It is sooo good and sooo fattening.
Help me!! Your recipe for shrimp and grits. You used stone ground grits, of course, and tasso ham. I cannot find it anywhere!!!
Denise Hinson

Alyce said...

Denise, Delta Grind grits were available from Lucchesi's while I was there and I'm guessing they still stock it. I know Miss Cordelia's does if it's not too far for you to get to Mud Island. Let me check around and I'll put another note on here with the info.