Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Butternut Goat Cheese Lasagna with Basil Béchamel

As "winter" makes its somewhat embarrassing exit, it's time for those of us with a winter squash collection to get to work! Hull out that butternut squash you've been staring at for weeks (wait, was that just me?) and make something extra special with it for dinner this week.

I'm the first to stand up for the rights of the red sauce lasagna. White sauce? C'mon. It's never good. You can't beat tangy tomatoes and all of the goodness of a mozzarella-filled pasta dish. But I'll make an exception for this and this only. A proper béchamel is truly delightful and with the pungency of goat cheese and the sweetness of the squash... yep, sold. Also, BASIL? Yeah, why are we still talking? Looks like you have something special for the dinner to-do list!

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Lasagna with Basil Béchamel
serves 10-12

15 lasagna noodles (no-boil for convenience, otherwise have the noodles cooked for assembly)
1 butternut squash (1-1.5 lbs)
12 oz goat cheese (most economical if you have a Sam's or Costco card!!)
3 cups milk (I used 2 percent but whole would be great!)
1/4 c butter
1/4 c all purpose flour
pinch nutmeg
1 c fresh basil leaves
1/2 c grated parmesan

- First things first. Roast your butternut squash by preheating your oven to 400 and filling a large casserole dish with a 1/2 inch of water. Cut the squash down the middle and place the pieces cut-side down in the dish. Roast for at least 30 minutes or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Allow to cool before peeling off the skin and pulsing in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
- With your oven at 375, assemble your noodles (cook them if they aren't the no-boil variety), goat cheese and butternut squash on your counter.
- For the bechamel, melt your butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and allow to brown (while whisking) for one minute. Gradually stir in milk and whisk frequently for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg. Pour half of the milk mixture into your blender and whir around with the basil until very well incorporated then add the rest of the milk and mix together. Now we're ready for assembly!!
- In a buttered LARGE casserole dish (you may use a 9x13 - just adjust your usage of noodles to 3 or 4 per layer and perhaps add one more layer of sauce, etc. - to your liking!!) pour 1/3 of your sauce in the bottom of the pan. Add 5 noodles on top, spread on half of the squash mixture and top with half of the goat cheese. Pour another 1/3 of the béchamel over this layer and repeat the layering of noodles, squash, cheese and sauce once more. Top with one more layer of noodles and tightly cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle on parmesan and continue baking another 15 minutes or until bubbly and hot. Serve warm!