Friday, March 8, 2013

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagna

It’s March in Atlanta and the weather is crazy. From 60 degrees and sunny one day to 35 with rain and crazy wind the next. I try and cook at least 2-3 times a week, schedule depending, and I always get cravings for certain things. Butternut squash along with sweet potatoes are a staple in my house because the possibilities are endless and Swiss chard comes in my CSA box every 2 weeks for weeks on end this time of year. Sometimes I make soup, some times I roast, sometimes I just steam.
The weather was particularly gross this past Monday and I was craving butternut squash lasagna that I sometimes buy at DeKalb Farmer’s Market, delicious. However, I take great delight, especially when I don’t want to get out in the elements or am feeling lazy, in creating a meal with what I have on hand at home. It’s a skill that some possess others not, like my husband. We can have a fridge/pantry full of things and he looks and says, “there is nothing to eat here”. Wrong! You just have to see beyond, imagine, and be creative. That’s where I come in.  So, with it also being Monday, i.e. Meatless Monday, I was excited to realize that I had everything in house to make a fantastic veggie lasagna. In the summer I do a tomato based with summer zucchini and squash but today called for something creamy, sweet, and bitter. And so here you are, enjoy:

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagna
Serves 8

12 lasagna noodles*
2 1/2-3# butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Swiss Chard, cleaned leaves cut into 1 inch pieces and stems in 1/2 inch slice
2 tablespoons butter    
1/3 cup AP flour
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
Cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
*Cook and drain your lasagna noodles and toss with a little olive oil. You could use fresh or no boil. If you use no boil the oven time may need to be increased until they are tender.
In a large bowl toss the butternut squash with some olive oil until coated and season with some salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 25-35 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking.
Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat.  Add your leeks and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until tender. Add the sliced chard stalks and cook a few minutes more. Then add your garlic and let it go another few minutes until everything is tender. Add the chard leaves and toss until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
When your squash is finished remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until relatively smooth. Alternatively you could dump into a food processor and pulse a few times. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Turn your oven down to 375 degrees.
In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. In a small bowl combine the flour, nutmeg, sage, and thyme. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the melted butter and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, this will be a thick paste. Slowly, while whisking constantly add your milk. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes, still whisking until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and stir until melted and season with salt and pepper.
Spray a 13x9-baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon a little of the white sauce in the bottom of the pan. Layer 4 lasagna noodles, then top with all of the Swiss chard mixture. Top this with about a cup of the white sauce and a layer of mozzarella cheese. Then add 4 more noodles, a layer of sauce, the entirety of the squash puree and a layer of cheese. Add the last 4 noodles, rest of the sauce and top with rest of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes then uncover and bake 10 minutes more.  If you want you could broil briefly to get some browning on the top.
*A good way to test to see if the center is hot is to stick a butter knife in the center and touch it to your lip. It will tell you the temp right away. Not warm enough? Let her go for a few more minutes covered back up with a foil blanket.
Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Until next time…

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