Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Recipe #72: Butternut Squash Lasagna with Fresh Swiss Chard & Toasted Hazelnuts

I have always liked the concept of butternut squash lasagna, but had never made it.  Granted, there were many other things I incorporated butternut squash into, but I guess the thought of putting it in between lasagna noodles without the benefit of meat just didn't appeal to me.  Well, I will be the first to admit I'm glad I finally ventured out and put this recipe together.  It is rather rich due to the sauce, but, gosh, it's lasagna, after all.

12 no-boil lasagna noodles                                   3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into
2 tbsp olive oil                                                              into 1/2" chunks
3 tbsp butter, divided                                            2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 lbs baby swiss chard, chopped                   1/3 cup flour
   (cut around stem and discard it)                      4 cups milk, whole or 2%
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, preferably fresh           1/2 tsp salt
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped*                      1 16 oz package mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan                                      2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 tsp black pepper                                              1/4 tsp dried sage

* there are many methods of toasting hazelnuts, so as to get all the skins off...please look up online to see which method you prefer.  I roast them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes, then take out of the oven, place in a dish towel, cover all the nuts, leave them sit for a few minutes, then roll them around in the dish towel.  most of the skins will come off, but don't worry about those that don't..

Heat oven to 450.  In a large bowl, toss the squash with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt.  Place squash on a large rimmed parchment-lined cookie sheet and roast in oven for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice.  Remove from oven, and mash lightly, leaving some squash in chunks.  In large skillet, add remaining tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter.  Over medium heat, add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, or starting to brown a little, stirring often.  Add the chard and another 1/4 tsp salt and cook until the chard is wilted and the liquid evaporates, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat, add 1/2 cup hazelnuts and set aside.  Lower heat to 375.  In a large saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, pepper and sage and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually whisk in milk until smooth and cook the white sauce over medium-high heat until it boils and starts to thicken slightly, continuing to whisk frequently.  Boil for an additional 2 minutes while stirring, then whisk in nutmeg and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Remove sauce from heat.  In a 9x13 pan (I use glass), spoon aout 1/2 cup of the white sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.  I use an offset spatula to spread.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce.  Spread half of the butternut squash over the noodles, then a quarter of the mozzarella, then one cup of the sauce.  Noodles, the swiss chard/onion mixture, mozzarella, sauce.  Noodles, the remainder of the butternut squash, mozzarella, sauce.  Noodles, remainder of sauce, mozzarella and parmesan.  Tightly cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray so cheese doesn't stick when you take off.  Bake at 375 on center rack for about 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.  Take out of the oven, sprinkle the remainder of the hazelnuts over the whole pan, and let sit another 15 minutes or so before cutting.   Bon appetit!

I slice down with a butcher knife

cut into cubes

swiss chard and onion mixture

white sauce just about done...fresh nutmeg on top...

the process of layering..first, white sauce on bottom of pan

then noodles with a little more sauce

then half of the squash

then mozzerella

then more sauce

mashed squash

noodles, swiss chard, cheese, sauce

top with final layer of noodles

barilla worked out with terrific results

after taking out of the oven, sprinkle rest of hazelnuts all over...

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