Baby, it’s cold outside.
Philadelphia suburbia has had a mild fall so far this year, but boy, did the temperatures drop this past week. Frost-tipped blades of grass and the bitter bite of a cold morning have greeted me each day when I first let the pups outside. They usually take their time with their “business” in the mornings, but lately, they’ve quickly come back to the door, hoping to return to the warmth of the kitchen.
Speaking of that. I will use any excuse to turn on the oven in the winter time. I’m not the only one, right? I’m always looking for reasons to use the oven when it’s chilly – not only for the heat it kicks off (duh), but also because my soul craves the comfort food that it is bound to produce. Breads, muffins, cookies, casseroles, and baked pasta dishes top my list. Food that feels like a hug. Comfort in a dish. Ya know, the foods that makes your thighs hate you.
This is one of my all-time favorite lasagna recipes. It’s vegetarian – unintentionally so – you just don’t miss the meat. At all. As far as lasagna recipes go, this one is on the lighter side. Yes, there is plenty of cheese, but you can always swap out full-fat cheese for lower fat varieties (especially the ricotta and the mozzarella). I don’t really miss the fat in dishes like this. It still comes out super creamy and rich…thanks in part to the butternut squash puree.
I realize that I’ve posted several recipes centered around these flavors. I can’t help it. It’s just that time of year, guys. Hopefully I’m not boring you! This lasagna is worth the redundancy.
Roasted, sweet butternut squash. Warm and spicy sage. Boatloads of cheese. How can you go wrong? Trust me on this one. It will warm you from the inside out.
If they were big on the lasagna circuit, Louie and Frankie would most definitely agree.
Butternut Squash, Sage, & Goat Cheese Lasagna (makes 6-8 servings)
For the Butternut Squash Puree:
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Cheese Layer:
8 oz crumbled goat cheese
1 (15-oz) container ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1 (10-oz) package of frozen spinach, defrosted, and squeezed dry
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Fresh sage, chopped (I used about 2-3 tablespoons, which leads to a strong sage flavor. If you aren’t a huge sage fan, start with 1 tablespoon and adjust as necessary)
Marinara sauce (when making dishes with a lot of prep, I use store bought. Feel free to make your own)
No-boil lasagna noodles (I use these. They make my life so much easier)
4 cups low-moisture mozzarella cheese, freshly grated (I used part-skim)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. In large bowl, toss onions, garlic cloves, and squash with oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Spread out in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and onions are browned, stirring halfway through. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then puree the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
2. Meanwhile, mix together the goat cheese, ricotta cheese, defrosted spinach, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, and chopped fresh sage. Grate in a little nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Butter a 9 x 13-in baking dish and pour a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom. Layer the ingredients in the following order: noodles, squash puree, ricotta cheese mixture, a drizzle of marinara, grated cheeses, and finally noodles. Repeat the layering until the ingredients are used up, ending with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the final layer of noodles. Add the last of the grated cheeses over the top and place whole sage leaves on top of the cheese.
4. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes for easier serving.