When I think of fall cooking I think of comfort foods. Time to get the crock pots out for soups and chili, and it is also a time for hearty casseroles. Comfort food is generally something that is easy to prepare, unsophisticated, and is psychologically comforting. The food may have a nostalgic or sentimental feel, and is usually high in carbohydrates and rich in calories. Well, this recipe from Top Chef's Brian Malarkey, has some of those qualities. I did manage to reduce some of the calories by making some changes, but basically this dish rates high up on the comfort meter. If a dish can evoke "it's a cold fall day or evening, sitting around the fireplace with friends and family", this is one of them. Since butternut squash is in season, this makes a great fall dish to make now. This is a great recipe to make on the weekend or when you have a little extra time to spend in the kitchen. Though this takes time, it is worth it. The original recipe used whole milk, and I omitted the sage and lemon butter that you are supposed to pour on over the top after its cooked, which saves calories by not adding them. I did add the sage to the sauce mixture and a few leaves on the top as it baked. If you don't like sage you could substitute thyme. Sage and butternut squash are a classic combination that I really like together, and my kitchen smelled divine while this was baking. This dish would make a great meatless option, served with a salad on the side. You could even serve this as a side dish to chicken or on your Thanksgiving table. This recipe is a keeper! I hope you try it.
Butternut Squash Lasagna - Adapted from Top Chef Brian Malarkey
1 large butternut squash – Peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thin
10 to 14 lasagna noodles – no boiling, oven ready. I used Trader Joe's brand
1 handful spinach
6 to 8 cloves garlic
1 handful Italian parsley
1/2 stick of butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups reduced fat milk, not skim
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup Parmesan cheese
6 to 8 sage leaves, plus some for top of lasagna
Salt and pepper and olive oil spray
Pre-heat oven to 375F. Lightly spray a sheet tray with olive oil and place the slices of butternut squash on it, season with salt and pepper, repeat another layer until all the butternut is layered. Cover with foil and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes until the squash is cooked yet still firm.
While that is cooking start on your roux: Melt ½ stick of butter in a large pot until almost browned, whisk in the flour and continue to cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Add garlic and continue to cook at a medium heat until mixture thickens. This could take 10 min or less.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend in the spinach and parsley. DO NOT cover top tightly while blending. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Begin the layers: Cream sauce on the bottom, making sure to coat the bottom well, so that the bottom noodle layer doesn't get too crispy, then pasta, cheeses, and butternut squash. Repeat. Make sure the top layer has cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is crispy golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.