It is time to dust off my computer and roll up my sleeves and start blogging again. I thought that I would start this week out with a few vegetarian entrees. Meatless Mondays were big last year, and from what I can tell, they’re going to get even bigger. Your meatless Monday may be driven because you want to eat less meat, or maybe it is a budget issue. Whatever the reason, I’m going to make sure you have some delicious recipes to get you through.
My friend, Valerie, shared this recipe with me. Although this really isn’t a “light” dish, it sure is packed full of delicious flavors. The creaminess of the cheeses, the elegant and delicious bechamel sauce and the tang of the spinach will keep you coming back for more.
- 1 box of oven-ready Lasagna noodles
- Bechamel sauce (recipe below)
- 1 cup roasted spaghetti squash, shredded (seasoned with salt and olive oil)
- 2 cups of roasted butternut squash (seasoned with salt, crushed red pepper and olive oil)
- 1 10-ounce bag of tender baby spinach
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 cups of a mixture of your favorite cheeses (choose from Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Jarlsberg, Gouda or Gruyere) grated
- Butter for dotting top with
- [u]Bechamel Sauce:
- ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups warm whole milk (you can also use heavy cream or half and half)
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- white pepper to taste
- Make Bechemel Sauce: Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil) Remove from heat; keep warm.
- Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Reduce heat to low, add flour, and whisk until smooth and raw taste is cooked off, about 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk in the warm milk, whisking constantly to avoid any lumps. If the sauce seems too thick add a little more milk to the mixture. Cook for approximately 10 minutes (whisking the entire time). Stir in the nutmeg and salt. Season with ground white pepper. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees f.
- Peel and cut butternut squash into bite-sized cubes.
- Cut spaghetti squash in half (we are only going to use ½ of the squash), remove seeds from middle. Season both squash with olive oil, salt and a little bit of crushed red pepper. Roast both squash on a foil lined baking sheet for about 30 minutes, stirring the cubed squash about every 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside. Shred the spaghetti squash.
- In a large 12" skillet heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the minced shallot and garlic. Saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes, add in the coarsely chopped spinach. Stirring well, reduce heat to medium. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. It should take about 10 minutes to wilt the spinach. Once wilted remove from heat and set aside (I place in a colander with a bowl underneath to drain the excess liquid).
- Spray the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles on bottom. Place the spaghetti squash as one layer, then the butternut squash. Add a layer of bechamel sauce and a layer of the shredded cheese.
- For the second layer place another row of noodles, top with spinach, then bechemal sauce and top with cheese.
- Third layer add another row of noodles, bechamel sauce, cheese and dot with butter.
- This can be made several days in advance and can be frozen for 1 month.
- When ready to bake (if coming from freezer, make sure it is defrosted) pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees f. Bake, covered, for about 25 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until bubbly around edges. Allow to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
I would even say this dish is delicious enough to serve to guests and make an extra one for your freezer!
Making homemade lasagna can be a time-consuming process that requires several steps. Just remember that many of the steps can be done in advance. You can prepare the white sauce, roast the squash, and saute the spinach and just refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the dish.
Let’s get started.
First, we are going to roast our squash. I am using two different varietals. One butternut squash and one spaghetti squash. We’re going to roast them at the same time.
Once you peel and scoop out the seeds from the butternut squash, you will need to cut the squash into bite-sized dice. (not too small or they will get really mushy) This will be the hardest and most labor intensive part of making the dish.
Toss the cubed squash in a little bit of olive oil, salt and about 1/4 teaspoon or so of crushed red pepper.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out the seeds from the middle. Cut the bottom end flat so it doesn’t roll around on your baking sheet. Brush the squash with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt.
In a pre-heated 375 degree f. oven bake both squashes. Roast until tender and not mushy, about 30 minutes, stirring (the cubed) about every 10 minutes.
When the spaghetti squash is done roasting, take a fork and run the tines of the fork along the meat of the squash. Season with a little bit of salt. Set both of the squash aside to cool.
I used one 10-ounce bag of tender baby spinach. Give it a good rough chop.
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add your chopped shallots and garlic. Saute the shallots and garlic for about 3-4 minutes in medium high heat until soft. Add in the spinach.
It is going to look like you are going to feed an army with all the spinach, but the heat is really going to wilt the spinach…..
…oh my. This is soooooo good. Season with a little bit of salt, pepper, and if you like that little kick, just a little bit of crushed red pepper (I’m talking about 1/8 of a teaspoon….just a little).
Once the spinach is wilted down, remove from heat and set aside.
Now it is time to make the bechamel sauce. In a large 12-inch skillet melt your butter, stir in the flour to form a roux. Cook roux for a few minutes, but do not allow to color. Slowly add your heavy cream, half and half, or milk to the roux, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Let simmer for a few minutes, whisking into submission to avoid all lumps.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Ahhhh, a break from boiling the noodles. I’ve never used oven-ready (or no boil) lasagna sheets before, but let me tell you, they work like a charm!
Here it is. The moment we have worked so hard for. It is time to layer your lasagna.
You can make one large 9 x 13″ pan of this amazing lasagna, which is perfect if you are feeding a crowd (you’ll get about 12-15 servings). Since there are only four people in my family, I am going to make three small lasagnas. One for tonight and the other two will go into the freezer for those crazy hectic days where I have nothing to eat and have to go freezer diving for dinner.
First, spray your pan with olive oil cooking spray. Lay down a layer of noodles on the bottom. Now a layer of spaghetti squash, a layer of butternut squash……
….spread a layer of your bechamel sauce…..
and a mixture of your cheeses (I used Gouda and Gruyere), freshly shredded of course.
Top the cheese layer with another layer of the noodles, now the delicious spinach and another layer of bechamel sauce, all topped with a little more cheese.
Now another layer of the noodles, topped with a bit of bechamel sauce and cheese (I added a little bit of Parmesan cheese to the mix for the top).
Dot the top with a little bit of butter and yee-haw, we’re done!
Bake at 350 degrees (covered) for about 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until bubbly and brown on top. Allow lasagna to rest for about 15 minutes before you serve.
Enjoy your delicious meatless monday! (although this was posted on a Tuesday, but really, just eat meatless whenever you want……..I won’t tell)