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Fall Fest: Pumpkin and Winter Squash Lasagna

Vegetable lasagna is highly underrated. I find that layering textured vegetables in between melted cheese and pasta creates a comforting casserole that stands well on its own. There’s also so much more variety than your standard meat-and-tomato-sauce lasagna. The vegetables can be interchangeable depending on the seasons, and you can use a tomato sauce or a creamy white Bechamel sauce. On a limited budget this summer, I regularly cooked vegetable lasagna studded with red pepper, summer squash and mushroom, and this carnivore became an instant believer in the vegetable lasagna. In fact, I stopped calling it “meatless lasagna” altogether, as if something was lacking in them. I think they are more properly described as, “hardy, cheesy, vegetable-laden lasagna.”

For this Pumpkin and Winter Squash Lasagna, I think about the pumpkiny goodness tucked in between layers of velvety winter squash, tender escarole, fresh ricotta, nutmeg-scented Bechamel and pasta. All of this is baked together under a heaping layer of Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses until hot and bubbly. It’s enough to challenge your doubts about vegetable lasagna.

Pumpkin and Winter Squash Lasagna

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 head escarole, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 10 to 12 fresh sage leaves, torn
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Two 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 box no-boil flat lasagna
  • 12 ounces Italian Fontina, Fontina Val D’Aosta or Gouda cheese, shredded

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a few inches water to a boil in a large pot and add salt. Cook the escarole for 5 minutes, then drain.

Cover the garlic cloves with water in a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and let cool. Squish the garlic pulp from the jackets into a bowl and mash with a fork.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage and stir. Add the squash, stir and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. All the stock should be absorbed and the squash should be lightly browned and tender. Remove from the heat.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in another medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and mashed garlic and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Cook until slightly thickened (the sauce should just coat the back of the spoon evenly without breaking up on the spoon’s surface).

Whisk together the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta, half the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining egg.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Soak the lasagna sheets in water for 5 minutes.

Pour about half the garlic sauce into the bottom of a 9 by 11-inch baking dish. Add a layer of lasagna sheets and then half the pumpkin mixture. Make another layer of lasagna sheets and spread with all of the ricotta mixture, followed by the squash and then escarole. Top with half the Fontina, another layer of lasagna sheets, the remaining pumpkin and another layer of lasagna sheets. Finish with the remaining garlic sauce and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fontina.

Bake the lasagna, covered, for 45 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and continue to bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes more. Let rest for 15 minutes, then cut and serve.

Cook’s Note: The lasagna can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated or frozen for a make-ahead meal. Reheat, covered, until hot, 45 minutes to 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more.

More Winter Squash Recipes From Family and Friends:
Feed Me Phoebe: African Peanut Stew With Shrimp and Butternut Squash
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Spicy Thai Coconut Winter Squash Noodle Soup
The Heritage Cook: Spaghetti Squash Two Ways
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Winter Squash Muffins With Honey and Molasses
Virtually Homemade: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese With Sage and Bacon Breadcrumbs
Red or Green?: Spicy Twice-Baked Stuffer Winter Squash
Devour: Rachael Ray’s Easy Pumpkin and Winter Squash Lasagna
Thursday Night Dinner: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
FN Dish: 5 Light Squash Recipes

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