I haven't done much in the way of creative cooking, baking or food blogging since the dreaded five blog posts worth of Chocolate-Malt Cake craziness, nor have I eaten any sweets. (Apparently Chocolate-Malt Cake cures sugar addiction. Yay!) I've been gazing at heaps of gorgeous plums and pluots and apples at the farmers market and dreaming about making a clafoutis or Dutch bébé, but I just haven't been feeling it.
So for the past week, my husband has been eating lots of comfort and pub food -- bangers and mash, homemade chicken pies from the freezer and the like. But yesterday I was able to muster up enough motivation to make a butternut squash and mushroom lasagna. I had intended for it to be vegetarian but as far as my husband is concerned, a dish without meat does not a meal make, so in went some lean Italian turkey sausage. Paired with a simple green salad, it was a perfect Sunday supper.
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagna
Makes 8-12 servings
Note: Most butternut squash lasagna recipes call for pre-cooked and mashed butternut squash, but I think using uncooked strips, cut from the squash with a vegetable peeler, is easier and much less soggy. Plus you can substitute the squash strips for lasagna noodles if you wish to make this dish pasta/gluten-free. Confession: I wasn't sure the squash strips were going to work, but they're brilliant (and I do say so myself).
1 1/2 lbs lean sweet Italian turkey sausage (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium shallots, minced
1 lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 lb oyster mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
Coarse kosher or sea salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Juice of 1/3 lemon
2 15-oz containers low-fat ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1 medium (approximately 1-1/4 lb) butternut squash
1 9-oz package no-boil lasagna sheets
1. Remove sausage (if using) from casings and saute in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking into small chunks and draining liquid as needed. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In the same pan, add olive oil and shallots and saute just until the shallots begin to turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and season with about 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper (the salt helps release the liquid from the mushrooms) and the thyme. Saute until the mushrooms begin to soften. Turn off heat and add the lemon juice, stirring to combine. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 3/4 cup Parmesan, eggs, parsley and lemon zest (if using). Set aside.
4. Using a vegetable peeler, remove and discard the tough outer skin from the butternut squash, then peel the flesh into long strips. You will need enough strips to line the lasagna pan with two layers of squash (five if substituting squash for the noodles).
5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Assemble the lasagna: spread about 1 cup ricotta mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared dish and place three lasagna noodles horizontally on top. Spread another cup ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, then arrange squash strips on top. Arrange half the sausage and half the mushrooms on top of the squash, then sprinkle with about 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Repeat with 3 more lasagna noodles, another cup ricotta, another layer of squash strips, the remaining sausage and mushrooms, and another 1 cup mozzarella. Top with 3 more lasagna noodles, followed by the remaining ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. (Lasagna can be covered tightly and frozen at this point.)
6. Cover lasagna with foil and bake on middle oven rack for 25 minutes. Remove foil, rotate pan front-to-back, and bake for another 25 to 35 minutes or until the lasagna is bubbling and brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Please forgive my less-than-stellar photos with inconsistent camera angles. That's what you get at 9 p.m. on a Sunday.