My brother planted way too much butternut squash this year. He has so much butternut squash that he doesn't know what to do with all of it. He has so much butternut squash that he laid down the law that it must play a starring role in our annual over-the-top, overly decadent, planned-for-months-in-advance, Christmas feast.
So, being the loving and caring sister that I am, I've been on a quest for lip-smacking, mouth-watering, not-your-run-of-the-mill recipes that contain butternut squash. Beyond the obvious (yet delicious) array of butternut squash soups and pureed or roasted butternut side dishes, I've discovered butternut gnocchi, a world of curries containing the squash (particularly Thai red beef curry or green pork curry, and an amazing Indian curry with chickpeas), roasted squash salads both warm and cold, and an array of pasta dishes. One of my favorite pasta discoveries was a lasagna recipe by Jamie Oliver, which in turn, inspired this recipe.
I have to say, this is one of the most luscious lasagnas that I’ve ever eaten. It made me swoon. I'd even say it's up there with the Most Amazing Decadent Mushroom Lasagna and the completely-from-scratch Lasagne Bolognese that my family makes annually for Christmas Eve. Hell, who knows, maybe this one will take center stage this year. If nothing else, it would most certainly make a great crowd pleaser for a holiday dinner party.
Oh, and thanks brother! For giving me a reason to try new and different things with a tried-and-true ingredient that might have been easily overlooked and one that was certainly stuck in a boring rut, at least in my cooking repertoire.
Roasted Butternut Lasagna
For the meat sauce:
2 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 lb ground pork shoulder
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup milk
1 28oz + 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes (6 in 1)
About 10 cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 cups red wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
For the roasted butternut:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 cup crème fraiche
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
6 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles
1. To make the meat sauce, in a large Dutch oven, sauté the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Add the onion, and sauté over medium-high heat until they start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and sauté just until tender. Add the pork and beef, reduce the heat to low and sauté the meat just until it loses it’s pink color. Season with plenty of salt and pepper, then stir in the milk. Simmer gently until most of the milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, red wine, and oregano. Partially cover the pot and simmer over very low heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until thickened and delicious.
2. Meanwhile, roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 400F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the butternut with the coriander, pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast the squash, turning occasionally, until tender and browned, about 40 minutes. Chop the butternut squash into bite-sized pieces. (You might want to make double the recipe of the butternut squash, this is SO amazingly good.)
3. To put the lasagna together, decrease the oven temperature to 375F. In a small bowl stir together the Parmesan and crème fraiche. Lightly oil a square baking pan (about 10x10x3 inches). Spread a big spoonful of meat sauce over the bottom of the pan. Put a layer of lasagna noodles (2), then a layer of meat sauce, half of the butternut squash, 1/3 of the crème fraiche, 1/3 of the mozzarella, a thin layer of meat sauce, and then another layer of lasagna noodles. Repeat: a layer of meat sauce, the remaining butternut squash, 1/2 of the remaining crème fraiche, 1/2 of the remaining mozzarella, a thin layer of meat sauce, and then a final layer of lasagna noodles. Top with a thin layer of meat sauce, the remaining crème fraiche, and the remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan and put in the oven.
4. Bake until bubbly and the pasta is tender, about 45 minutes. If the cheese starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil. If the lasagna bubbles over, put a baking sheet underneath. Let the lasagna sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Dig in!