Cooktop Cove: Watch how to make vegetarian lasagna with spinach and butternut squash
By Lia Blanchard
The most popular winter squash in North America, butternut, lends its smooth nutty flavor to a variety of dishes, including soups, curries, and risotto. Sandy Pollock and Crystal Cook, better known as the Casserole Queens, have made it the main ingredient in their vegetarian lasagna recipe.
The Casserole Queens' tagline is "Put some lovin' in your oven!" Their joy of cooking is clearly visible in the video below -- watch to see how Pollock and Cook prepare this version of a family favorite.
Vegetarian lasagna with spinach and butternut squash
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Serves: 6-8
6 cups butternut squash (one large), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sage, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided into 3 + 1 tablespoons
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided in half
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 cloves (one full head) garlic, unpeeled
1 large onion, sliced
5 cups milk
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon whole nutmeg, grated
2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded and divided into 1-1/2 + 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces (227 grams) baby spinach
9 ounces (255 grams) no-boil lasagna noodles
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (318 degrees Celsius).
2) Spread cubed squash on large baking sheet. Sprinkle sage over squash, drizzle it with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, then season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
3) Toss until well coated. Spread squash over baking sheet in one layer; add unpeeled garlic. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until squash is soft.
4) While squash is roasting, heat remaining oil in large pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat and cook until thoroughly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
5) Steam spinach with water, over medium-high heat. Drain and squeeze dry, then set aside.
6) When squash is cooked, remove peels from garlic then use a fork to mash squash and garlic together.
7) Put milk into a saucepan with the bay leaf and thyme. Turn heat to medium until milk simmers, then reduce to low. When mixture beings to thicken, add cayenne pepper and nutmeg then remove the bay leaf and thyme. Add 1-1/2 cups grated cheese and whisk carefully until melted.
8) In 9-inch by 13-inch (33 by 23 centimeters) casserole dish, spoon out cheese sauce and spread to cover bottom. Add layer of no-boil lasagna noodles; they should fit horizontally without cutting. Add layer of squash mixture, using about half of it and spreading as evenly as possible. Add layer of spinach, then a layer of onions.
9) Repeat step 8 (cheese sauce, noodles, squash, spinach, onions), then add the final three layers: cheese sauce, noodles, cheese sauce.
10) Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Return to oven and broil a few minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Tip: Save yourself time and effort by purchasing pre-diced butternut squash if you can. "That is one thing I will invest in," says Cook. "[The squash] is actually very very hard to cut up and dice."
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