Posts Tagged ‘Lasagna’

I often cook up a large batch of food on Sunday to last me for the week, and this Sunday I craved lasagna with a twist.  Rummaging for inspiration through my fridge, I happened upon an acorn and butternut squash.  Squash is one of my favourite vegetables, and, as winter approaches, it is one of the few you can find at the market.  The beauty of this vegetable is the sweetness and versatility of its flesh.  This recipe from the Food Network was receiving rave reviews, so I decided to give it a go.

I felt the recipe needed garlic as well as a new flavour to balance the sweetness of the butternut puree, so as an experiment, I introduced arugula to offer a bitter contrast.  The original recipe only used mozzarella and Parmesan, but I love ricotta so included it with the cheese layer.  The final lasagna was enticing: the 15 minutes of letting the lasagna sit was torture as the aromas of pesto and cheese wafted through my apartment.   And I can attest that the zesty arugula balanced the mellow squash beautifully!

Butternut Squash and Arugula Lasagna

(serves 12)




1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1.5 to 2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1/4 cup butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup flour

1 litre (4 cups) milk

2 bay leaves

Generous pinch nutmeg

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (or a few tablespoons of pesto)

12 spinach lasagna noodles (either fresh no-boil or pre-boiled)

2 cups packed arugula

2 1/2 cups mozzerella cheese

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make the butternut puree, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the squash and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour the broth into the skillet, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.  Cool slightly and then transfer the squash and any remaining liquid to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Season the squash puree with more salt and pepper to taste. Set the puree aside.

To make the pesto bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and flour and whisk until slightly brown.  Gradually whisk in the milk and add the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg.  Allow the bechamel to cool slightly.  Transfer a cup or two of the sauce to a blender.  Add the basil and blend until smooth.  Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the lasagna, preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.  Lightly butter a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.  Spread 3/4 cup of the bechamel over the prepared baking dish.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzerella cheese, 1/4 of the ricotta, and 1 cup of arugula.  Drizzle 1/2 cup basil bechamel over the noodles.  Repeat layering 3 more times, including the other cup of arugula on the 3rd of 4 layers.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna.  Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer.  Let the lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Mushroom Lasagna

Cheesy and tomotoey noodles baked to perfection.  How can one not love this dish?

The first time I made lasagna was two years ago, when Sitelle learned the horrifying fact that I had never before made lasagna.  I had been convinced that lasagna was this complicated, time-consuming recipe, way beyond my cooking skills.  Sitelle sat me down, and taught me lasagna’s secret: a little bit of time and more cheese than a being should naturally eat over a day, makes for a perfect dinner time after time.  And it turns out I was completely wrong – lasagna is about as difficult as making spaghetti when you use oven-ready noodles, and it is truly the dinner that just keeps on giving (I made a panful on Monday, and five days later, I am still reaping the benefits!)

This lasagna is delicious and so very versatile.  Feeling like a wholesome vegetarian meal – cut out the ground beef and add some more veggies.  Eggplant or swiss chard are always a tasty choice.  Craving the carnivorous life?  Cut out the veggies, and add some pork sausage or more ground beef.  For this version, I had been craving mushrooms – so this lasagna is stuffed with button, portabello, and cremini mushrooms.  Absolutely delicious and definitely worth the hour it takes to bubble away in the oven!


Mushroom Lasagna

(12 generous servings)



2 onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pound of lean ground beef

1 pound of mushrooms (I used a mix of cremini, button, and portabello), diced

1 red pepper, cubed

1 large zucchini (yellow is particularly tasty), chopped

2 tins chopped canned tomatoes

1 splash sherry

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons thyme

2 teaspoons basil

½ teaspoon crushed rosemary

½ teaspoon oregano

2 bay leaves

1 large bag of grated cheese, about a pound (my fave is a mix of  Romano, parmesan, mozzarella, and asagio)

1 pound of ricotta cheese

3 cups spinach

16 oven-ready lasagna noodles



Preheat oven to temperature according to oven-ready noodles (usually 375).

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic until cooked thoroughly.  Drain off extra fat.  Add mushrooms, red pepper, and zucchni and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add canned tomatoes, sherry, brown sugar, and herbs and bring to a boil.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Let simmer for 20 minutes until sauce has mellowed.

In the bottom of a deep large pan, spread a thin layer of the sauce.  Cover the sauce with a first layer of noodles.  Layer with 1/3 of the remaining sauce and half the grated cheese on top.  Cover the cheese with a second layer of noodles.  Layer with 1/3 more sauce, all the spinach, and all the ricotta cheese. Cover the cheese with the third layer of noodles.  Layer with the remaining sauce and grated cheese.  Sprinkle extra Parmesan on top if desired.

Baked lasagna covered in aluminum foil for 45 minutes.  Uncover and let it cook for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is nice and bubbly and brown.  During this time, try not to give in to the delicious smells radiating through your house. Remove from oven and let the lasagna stand for another five minutes before you dig in!

–       Catherine

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