Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Round-Up: Giada's Butternut Squash Lasagna

Last weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, and it gave me an opportunity to try out some seasonal recipes I've been drooling over for awhile. For my boyfriend and his family, I made Martha Stewart's Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. For my family's Thanksgiving dinner, I made Giada De Laurentiis's Butternut Squash Lasagna.

When my brothers heard what I was making, they weren't very impressed. Their reaction involved some crinkled noses and a few variations of, "Are you sure we can't sprinkle a little meat on top?"

But then they tasted it, and their concerns turned to praise.

This recipe is wonderful. Although my veggie-hating boyfriend could just tolerate it, the rest of us at the table really enjoyed it. In fact, other than him, I received all rave reviews.

A handful of basil adds a burst of pesto-like flavour to the bechamel sauce, and it complements the creamy squash perfectly.

Freshly cooked and pureed butternut squash is layered with noodles, the bechamel sauce, and a healthy dose of mozzarella cheese.

The result is a dish that takes like homemade squash ravioli but doesn't require as much effort. I'm looking forward to making it again. It's perfect for this time of year.

The original recipe can be found here. The recipe with the slight modifications I made is below.

Butternut Squash Lasagna
By Giada De Laurentiis
Yields 8 to 10 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 1% and it worked well)
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
12 no-boil lasagna noodles, or 12 regular lasagna noodles, cooked
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Asiago

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet and then cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the amaretti cookies and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender*. Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.


Anonymous October 20, 2008 at 9:00:00 PM EDT  

My dad made this for our thanksgiving a few years ago and it is really good. It's a lot of work though, with the roasting the squash. But he did it all on the same day, which in hindsight may have been stupid.

Kait October 20, 2008 at 9:21:00 PM EDT  

I was making it in my boyfriend's parents' kitchen, so I had to be crafty and try to take care of some of the steps ahead of time. I steamed the squash, shredded the cheese, and measured out the butter ahead of time. That made the process a lot faster!

Parker October 22, 2008 at 8:03:00 AM EDT  

That sounds amazing. I actually saw her make it on food tv, so heavenly.

Claire December 6, 2008 at 5:11:00 PM EST  

THIS LOOKS SO AMAZINGLY GOOD. Great blog by the way. I found it yesterday, and you can count on me reading it in the future!

Kait December 14, 2008 at 12:48:00 PM EST  

Thanks Claire! I'm glad you like it!

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