Although I aspire to share a piece of myself with every post, sharing this Butternut Squash Recipe feels more personal to me for several reasons. I first tried a variation of this recipe based on a recipe from the Judge for whom I clerked right after law school. Back then, I didn’t really “cook,” but this recipe was a huge hit. You might say, it was my first huge hit. Second, I tried this recipe with the first butternut squash I ever prepared. The squash itself was from our local CSA (community supported agriculture) from Bull Run Farm in 2006. At that time, I hardly had a knife sturdy enough to cut through the squash. In fact, the butternut squash was so big and sat on our table for many days before I had the courage to tackle it that Capties cuddled with it.
Third, the recipe is a great side-dish for Thanksgiving and has made its way to the table at many Thanksgiving dinners. It also serves as a filling main course for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. In the last six years I’ve made this recipe at least 3-4 times every Fall and Winter. Perhaps what makes it so personal to me however, are all the friends and family with whom I’ve shared this recipe. It is probably one of my most requested and most shared recipes. Each Fall, when butternut squashes start appearing, I think about making this dish and who I will share it with next. Every time I start warming the rosemary milk, it reminds me of the friends and family that have enjoyed a meal with us where this lasagna took center stage. They say that all good friends share good food. Share this – it is worth eating in instead.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH LASAGNA
6 servings as a main course or 12 as a side dish
3 lbs. butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups milk (I use skim)
2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled
7-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 sheets lasagna pasta (I use whole wheat pasta and I like the nuttiness, but you can use whatever you prefer, including no-boil pasta)
1 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 oz.)
Garnish: Fresh rosemary sprigs
Pre-heat oven to 450°F. and oil 2 large shallow baking sheets or pans.
Cut the squash into large chunks and de-seed the squash. Toss the pieces with oil until coated well and spread in one layer in pans. Season with salt and pepper, then roast the squash for about 15 to 20 minutes. Flip squash pieces and rotate the pan and roast for another 10 to 15, or until the squash is fork tender and beginning to turn golden. (You can see in the picture below where I pricked the squash with a fork.)
When the squash is cool, remove the skin and cut the roasted squash into ½ inch pieces.
In a medium saucepan bring milk to a simmer over medium-low heat with rosemary. Heat milk mixture over low heat for about 10 minutes then pour the milk through a sieve into a large pitcher or measuring cup to strain out the rosemary.
In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring until butter is just melted. Stir in the flour creating a roux, and constantly stirring for about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a steady stream into the butter and garlic until smooth. Return the milk, butter, and garlic pan to a medium-low heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick enough to coat a spoon.
Stir in squash pieces with a wooden spoon and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.
Boil the lasagna according to the instructions on the box. I usually do this three pieces at a time.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9 in. x 13 in. baking dish, then spread 1 cup sauce into the bottom of the dish (sauce will not cover bottom completely).
Next put down 3 lasagna sheets into the pan, making sure they do not touch each other.
Spread half of remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat by putting down the remaining 3 sheets of lasagna and covering with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over the sauce.
Cover dish tightly with foil and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagna stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish each serving with fresh rosemary.