With Tyler away for a conference at the end of December, I had the house to myself for a whole week. During this week, I was able to do two specific things.
The first: focus. Being alone means that I can focus hours of my time on cheesy Lifetime movies without my dear husband’s commentary (i.e. “Why is everyone always in a coma?”, “Why do people always confess their feelings to someone when they’re in a coma?”, “Why do patients only wake up from their coma after someone has confessed their feelings?”). Sometimes I just prefer my movies predictable, you know?
The second: experimentation. Being alone also means that I am free to cook with any of the following: kale, mushrooms, tofu, eggplants, quinoa, spaghetti squash, and goat cheese. And cook with these ingredients I did. Every last one. It was the healthiest disaster a girl could ask for.
My favorite recipe from the menu turned out to be this Vegetarian Butternut Squash Lasagna, a recommendation from my friend Laura, who always knows her stuff. The recipe itself is a little time consuming, so I made it on a Sunday afternoon, but it was worth every bite. The lasagna is filled with butternut squash that has been tossed in browned butter, covered with a creamy mascarpone bechamel sauce, then topped with freshly grated Fontina cheese and fresh sage. It was a great change from the typical red meat sauce lasagna, but just as comforting and filling. It’s delicious, delectable, and tastes even better the next day!
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (6 cups)
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, browned
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose or whole wheat flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 oz mascarpone cheese
- 2 Tbsp freshly grated, Parmesan cheese
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 16 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked or no-boil
- 8 oz Fontina cheese, freshly grated
- 10 fresh sage leaves, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Heat a large skillet over low to medium heat and add the coconut oil. When melted, add the sage, garlic, and shallots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the butternut squash. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and toss to coat. Cover and cook until the squash is soft and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Toss the squash once or twice while cooking.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add the squash mixture to a large bowl. Add the browned butter and use a fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the squash until it’s somewhat smooth and resembles mashed potatoes. Set aside.
- For the béchamel, heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once it is sizzling, whisk in the flour and stir to create a roux. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is golden brown and a nutty scent develops. Pour in the milk and whisk constantly until it has thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the mascarpone, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir continuously until the cheese melts, about 5 more minutes.
- To assemble the lasagna, spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Layer 4 noodles on the bottom of the dish. Spread one-third of the squash mixture over the noodles evenly and sprinkle with 2 ounces of the Fontina cheese. Pour about 1⁄3 cup of the béchamel sauce over the top. Cover with 4 more lasagna noodles. Repeat the process, adding half of the remaining squash, 2 ounces of the cheese, and 1⁄3 cup béchamel. Add 4 more noodles. Repeat the process one more time, finishing with the remaining 4 noodles. Add the remaining Fontina on top and pour the remaining sauce all over. Cover the top with the sage leaves.
- Bake the lasagna until the cheese on top is golden and bubbly and the sage leaves appear crispy, 45 to 60 minutes. Let the lasagna sit for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.