published Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Courters' Kitchen: Butternut squash lasagna a tasty main or side dish for fall

Kelley Courter’s Butternut Squash Lasagna has noodles layered with roasted butternut squash, a spinach-mushroom mixture, cheese and tomato sauce and topped with a homemade bechamel sauce.
Kelley Courter’s Butternut Squash Lasagna has noodles layered with roasted butternut squash, a spinach-mushroom mixture, cheese and tomato sauce and topped with a homemade bechamel sauce.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
COURTERS' KITCHEN

This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.

BARRY: There are some flavors that you expect and crave when fall rolls around, but butternut squash has found its way to the top of the list for me. I love the member of curcubit family in soup, as a pseudo pasta or just by itself, but this lasagna has become a new favorite.

Kelley has served it twice now this season for dinner guests. The first time was as a side dish for the meat eaters in the family and as the entree for the vegetarians. Most recently it was the entree at a small gathering, and it was served with a salad and baked apples. Both times it was very well received.

KELLEY: While the list of ingredients and the assembly seems a little challenging, it really is just about fixing it to taste. It does take a little while to prepare -- mostly because of the bechamel and tomato sauces -- but it is worth it. You could skip making your own tomato sauce and use a prepared sauce, but it wouldn't be as good.

I think it would work well as a side dish at Thanksgiving, especially served along with a ham.

BARRY: The combination of the squash with the mushrooms and the cheese was perfect. It really went well with the salad and a nice bottle of wine, and I'm looking forward to having leftovers for lunch.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

1 medium butternut squash

1 package no-boil lasagna sheets

1 jar Alfredo sauce

2 packages Italian blend cheese

1 cup shredded Parmesan

Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

Spinach Mixture (recipe follows)

Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)

Cut the squash in half and place on a lightly oiled baking pan, skin side up. Roast in oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes till tender. Remove from oven and let cool.

Remove and discard the seeds from the squash. You will a scooping meat onto the shells while constructing the dish.

Lightly oil a large deep Pyrex baking dish.

Place about 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. Lay lasagna sheets on sauce. Take chunks of squash and spread out on sheets, top with more sauce and cheese. Next layer add lasagna sheets, then spinach-mushroom mixture. Top with a little cheese and Alfredo sauce. Repeat layers alternating squash and spinach mixture. You should have three squash layers and two spinach layers. The last layer should be sauce only with cheese.

Top with bechamel, allowing it to roll down the sides of the lasagna. You want it to completely cover. Add Parmesan.

Lightly tent with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about one hour. Remove foil and bake for about 30 minutes till sauce has browned slightly.

Remove and let sit about 15 minutes.

Serves 6-8 as entree or 10-12 as a side dish.

Tomato Sauce

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 2-ounce can whole tomatoes

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon to taste

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 cup white wine

1 small sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

Melt butter in pan. Saute onions and garlic till wilted. Add crushed and whole tomatoes, breaking them into chunks. Add wine, spices and herbs. Reduce on low till slightly thickened -- about 40 minutes. Set aside.

Spinach Mixture

2 tablespoons butter

1 package fresh spinach

1 package fresh crimini mushrooms

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Melt butter in pan. Add garlic and mushroom and let cook a bit before adding spinach, allowing it to wilt. Set aside.

Bechamel Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon nutmeg

2 cups whole milk

1 cup half and half

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

2 eggs beaten

Melt butter in saucepan and add shallots. Cook a few minutes to wilt. Add flour and cook, slowly adding liquids. Cook until thickened. Add cheese and cook till melted. Let sauce cool, then add beaten eggs right before you are going to place sauce on lasagna.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at 757-6354 or bcourter@timesfreepress.com.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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