Thursday, January 25, 2007

Squash Lasagna

Making a whole new dinner with leftovers can be challenging, especially when your goal is to transform the food into something entirely new and different than the original dish. This lasagna uses butternut squash soup in lieu of the more traditional tomato sauce. You're left with a dainty, lighter version of vegetable lasagna that's as spectacular cold as it is hot. We like to make a whole 9x13 pan and bring the leftovers for lunch. You could also make two smaller casserole dishes full and freeze one, then pop it in the oven to bake it whenever you desire.

Squash Lasagna
Start by boiling a large pot of lightly salted water. Add a package of lasagna noodles and cook according to the directions on the package -- about eight to ten minutes should do it. You could use no-boil noodles in this recipe (which we do sometimes) but the boiled noodles aren't terribly hard to work with and they taste slightly better. No-boil noodles tend to be a bit tougher to chew, in my experience.
As your noodles boil, prepare the cheese filling by mixing together: 2 cups of ricotta cheese (1 16-oz. container), 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon of oregano or basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water, which will prevent them from sticking to one another. Allow them to cool slightly.
Put about 1 cup of the butternut squash soup in the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Lay noodles, side by side (slightly overlapping, if you're using no-boil) on top of the saucy soup.
Layer with about 2/3 a cup of the cheese mixture. Pour another 1 cup of the soup on top of the cheese, then layer with more noodles.
Repeat the layering process until the dish is complete. It should be about three layers, total. The top layer will be the soup, then sprinkle some extra mozzarella and parmesan cheese for the topping.
Cover the dish with foil and place in a 375º oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, until it is bubbling and lightly browned on top.
Another way to transform this dish (and make more manageable portions) would be to make stuffed shells or lasagna rolls. Simply boil the shells or lasagna noodles and spoon the cheese into each shell (or put about a tablespoon of cheese onto each lasagna noodle, then roll into a cannoli shape). Put 1 cup of the butternut squash soup in the bottom of a 9x13 pan, then arrange the shells or rolled up noodles. Cover with 1 1/2 cups of soup and bake at 350º for about 45 minutes (cover with foil and remove halfway through, as with the recipe above) until it bubbles and becomes golden.
Time to eat! I love this recipe, mostly because it allows you to create a brand new dish made from easy to store leftovers. The soup becomes more solidified and easier to manage as a sauce after it's been refrigerated for about a day, which makes this an ideal planned-leftover situation.
As I mentioned, this is also really great cold. It becomes more solid, and unlike a red-sauce lasagna, it isn't too gooey, which means you can eat it with your hands like a sandwich. Perfect for lunch or a quick snack. And it's relatively healthy, especially if you take a piece that has a little less cheese!


Brian said...

you didn't tell me you had a recipe blog!!!! lasagna is the new black in 2007! food is life. and you are food. i'll repost when i have something meaningful to say.

K8 said...

No, you're food!
Thanks for checking it out. I hope you come back -- I update daily, and I like to think it's a pretty fun read.

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