Butternut Squash Lasagna

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For true comfort, layer up with this vegetarian lasagna no matter the season. We regularly fold mushrooms and spinach into a creamy pesto sauce, but in winter, we also turn to butternut squash and kale, and in summer, ratatouille. This is great with the addition of sausage for all you meat lovers.

Makes one (9- by 13- by 2-inch) casserole / Serves 8 to 10

2 large butternut squash cut in half, seed removed

10 to 12 lasagna noodles

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups ricotta cheese

3 large eggs

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)

2 cups (8 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese

15 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

 Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking dish and set aside.

  1. Place the squash cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and add about 1/2 cup water. Place in the oven to roast until soft and tender to touch. Remove from the oven and cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh from the squash, place in a large bowl and set aside. Reduce the oven to 350°F.

  2. While the squash is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Prepare lasagna noodles, cooking 2 to 3 minutes less than package directions, until al dente and pliable.

  3. Drain and rinse noodles, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and set aside to drain.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until sizzling hot. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about 1 minute more. Set aside to cool slightly.

  5. Combine the ricotta, eggs, half the basil, oregano and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix and set aside until ready to use.

  6. Layer the ingredients as follows: Place about 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half the squash on top of the sauce and top with a layer of noodles. Scatter with half the mozzarella and goat cheese and spread another layer of sauce, squash and top with a layer of noodles. Spread the ricotta mixture over the noodles, scatter with the remaining basil, mozzarella and goat cheese. Add sauce and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

  7. Cover with foil and bake about 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the edges are bubbling and the top is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let rest about 30 minutes before serving.

 Bechamel Sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups milk

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

  1. Melt the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat.

  2. Whisk the flour into the melted butter and cook, whisking constantly, until light brown, about 2 minutes.

  3. In a slow, steady stream, whisk the milk into the flour and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, whisking frequently, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the pesto and set aside until ready to use.

 Sidebar: In the Kitchen

To make firm lasagna that retains it layers, always undercook the noodles, then drain and toss them with a small amount of olive oil. Use a few eggs to help bind the cheese mixture. And don’t over sauce—this will make the lasagna runny, causing it not to set properly. To finish, always let it rest at least 30 minutes before cutting.