My family’s kitchen is one filled with random odds and ends. Some left over vegetables from dinner, a half eaten cheese platter, maybe some unused salad greens, all of these litter the drawers of the fridge. I usually end up throwing some of these things in a pasta, breakfast hash, or, yes, eating it out the fridge with my bare hands, hoping no one catches me. But if I know a group is coming over, or I want to have dinner ready for a week, I trot out this lasagna recipe and fill it up.
For this recipe I chose my favorite combination, but please feel free to make it your own. When you peel away the extra ingredients, you’re left with noodles, white sauce, and cheese, which, in my humble opinion, go with practically anything. So if you want to add tomato sauce and zucchini, go for it; or you can drizzle on a pesto and add in some sauteed mushrooms, it’s really up to you how you want to make this dish sing.
Making it from start to finish can take a bit of time, as each component requires cooking, which is why I love this recipe as a left-over dish. If all you have to do is assemble, it’s done in 30 minutes and is wonderful. To save on time, you can make all of the components a day or two before, or when you make dinner earlier in the week, make sure to make a little bit extra. Roasted butternut squash makes a delicious side, sautéed spinach is a classic dinner companion, and caramelized onions are perfect on burgers or to give some depth to soups and sauces. Enjoy!
4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes
16 ounces spinach, washed and dried
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 pound lasagna strips (enough for three layers)
12 ounces ricotta
3 balls buffalo mozzarella (or about 2-3 cups regular mozzarella)
1/2 cup grated parm (or any other hard cheese, I sometimes use gouda)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup basil, julienned
INGREDIENTS (FOR THE BESCHAMEL)
1 3/4 pints milk
several sprigs of parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon chili flake
1 bay leaf
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup grated parm
Preheat oven to 425F. Drizzle the butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the butternut squash for about 30 minutes, or under soft and browned. Meanwhile, over medium heat, saute the spinach in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add 2 minced cloves of garlic and a pinch of chili flake. It should be totally wilted. Set aside on a paper towel to drain. To caramelize the onions, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions with a big pinch of salt and cook down for about 30-40 minutes (just be patient, it’s worth it), until a dark brown. Halfway through add the remaining two cloves of minced garlic. Set aside.
Boil the lasagna noodles until just al dente (one minute before what the box says to cook it to). Set aside in a bowl of cool water (from the tap is fine).
Slice the mozzarella into 8 slices per ball.
DIRECTIONS (FOR THE BESCHAMEL)
Bring the milk and everything else except for the butter, flour, and pram to a simmer. In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir until doughy and smelling a bit nutty (about one minute). Strain in the milk about a half cup at a time, whisking to incorporate with the butter and flour mix. It should be smooth and velvety, not chunky or too thick. If it is, just add some more milk to thin it out. Add the parm and set aside.
Pre heat the oven to 375
In a pyrex dish, place a layer of noodles, a bit of the veg, the mozzarella, dot with a third of ricotta, add the basil, and cover with a 1/4 of the beschamel. Repeat three times, and finish with the remaining beschamel and grated parm.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbling. Turn the broiler on and bake for another 5 minutes, or until brown and crunchy on top. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Enjoy!