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October Cooking Club: Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna October 8, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in cooking club, dinner, good for a group, vegan, vegetarian.
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butternut squash

Last night I attended the monthly cooking club that I am a part of with a group of friends. Each month, the host comes up with a theme, and each person prepares a dish to bring and share, and then we all swap recipes over email after. This month’s theme was (appropriately) orange—meaning plenty of squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, cider, and other delicious autumn food!

I made a tried-and-true favorite from last fall and winter: a butternut and spinach lasagna.  My friend Sarah shared this recipe with me last year, but I am not sure of the original source.  The butternut squash is roasted with a bit of balsamic, and the spinach is cooked down with red pepper flakes, which adds a nice savory/sweet vs. slightly spicy taste dimension to the whole thing.

Squash and root vegetables are so affordable right now at farmers’ markets. I can hardly wait to go to the one near me this weekend to pick up another butternut, a rutabaga (one friend made baked rutabaga chips with curried mayonnaise last night that were so delicious!), a spaghetti squash, and maybe a few small pumpkins to use as edible soup or chili bowls. I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for chili baked in pumpkin bowls on the internet lately that I’d love to try. I LOVE this time of year!

(For past cooking club contributions, click here.)

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 (6-ounce) bags fresh baby spinach (or 2 10 oz. bags of “regular” spinach, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped)
12 cooked lasagna noodles (8 ounces uncooked noodles) (I used the Barilla no-cook lasagna noodles; there were too many in the box—only needed 12 and the box has 16—but they worked really well!)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian blend cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Peel and dice your squash.  I like to cut the top and bottom off so it’ll stand up properly, then peel the skin using a sharp vegetable peeler.  Remove the seeds and strings (saving them to roast if you’d like!).  Dice the peeled squash into small, 1/2 inch or so cubes.

peeled and diced squash

Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and thyme. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

roasted butternut squash

Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; keep warm.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Melt butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat; add flour to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until smooth and golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add remaining warm milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add spinach, 1 bag at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over milk mixture; top with spinach mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, and a third of the cheese. Arrange 4 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, and a third of the cheese. Arrange remaining 4 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

layered lasagna

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

(Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a good photo of the final product!  I’ll be making it again at home, soon—when I was putting it together to take to cooking club, Ryan asked if we could make it at home sometime soon.  Maybe for next week’s Fringe with Friends!  I’ll make sure to get a nice photo then.)

Vegan Option

vegan squash pasta

For the vegans in our cooking club, I saved a portion of the roasted squash and tossed it with fusilli pasta, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh baby spinach, pine nuts, thyme, and salt & pepper. I had leftovers of this version for lunch today but since I am not vegan, I tossed a little blue cheese in the mix, which was really good.  I’d make this version again , for sure.

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Comments»

1. Mom Pilchak - October 17, 2010

I made this last year and it IS so good. In fact, I shared it with my friends at the bank and Diane made it for Christmas Eve dinner! Love this!!


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