I’m proud. I’ve tackled and conquered a quintessential culinary milestone: the lasagna. And not just any lasagna—this one was teeming with fall veggies and goat cheese. I had a bit of a moment when all the hard work was over and I got to take my first bite of the finished product.
To say I came up with this recipe on my own would be a lie. I feel like lasagna is something I should be able to make, though, so I’ve always had my eyes peeled for a recipe that was inspiring enough to give me the kick in the pants I needed to give it a whirl. I mean, I’m as much Italian as I am the President of the United States. Things like lasagna do not exactly come naturally.
I have Shape Magazine’s October issue to thank for delivering the kick I’d been waiting for. They printed a feature on pasta recipes, most of which were fairly simple and straightforward. On a recent Saturday night, however, I found myself with no plans and a fridge full of all the right stuff. Might as well go for the Everest of pasta, then. Such is how this lasagna came to be.
Go Big or Go Home Lasagna adapted from Shape’s Harvest Lasagna
1.5 pounds peeled & seeded butternut squash
3.5 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups lacinato/dino kale, washed and cut into ribbons
Preheat oven to 350*. Cut squash into thin slices and place in a ziplock baggie. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Seal baggie and shake to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet; roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove squash from oven and set aside. Keep oven on.
While squash is roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil with a touch of olive oil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 7 minutes, or until al dente (they will cook more in the oven!). Drain and rinse under cold water to prevent sticking—this will probably happen anyway, so be careful and separate them very slowly.
In a medium skillet, heat 1.5 tsp olive oil over medium-high. Add garlic, saute 2 minutes. Stir in kale and 1 tbsp basil. Add 1/4 cup water and cover; cook 5 minutes. Remove cover, reduce heat to low; cook 3 minutes more. Set aside to cool.
In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high. Add flour; whisk 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and pinch of salt; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue whisking for 2 more minutes or until white sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
Stir goat cheese (the 10 oz of chevre) into the kale mixture. Add egg and oregano and stir until melted and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Coat a 9”x13” baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 2/3 cup sauce over bottom. Arrange a layer of noodles over sauce. Gently spread half the kale-cheese mixture over noodles; top with roasted squash. Sprinkle half of the Dutch cheese over squash. Top with remaining kale-cheese, followed by noodles. Top with remaining sauce, basil and Dutch cheese.
Coat a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Tent foil (more like tent FAIL for me—do your best), sprayed side down, over lasagna. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil, bake 15 more minutes to brown cheese slightly. Let lasagna rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.
(…or 1 + my freezer)
So maybe it was a tad anticlimactic to have been slaving in the kitchen for 3 hours, Mandarin Oriental Cooking School apron and all, only to have a little dinner party for one in front of the boob tube. Still, the sense of accomplishment (and the wine) made the whole thing worth it, and I went to bed very content.
There’s a happy ending to this story, anyway. On a visit to my sister this past weekend, I brought along a few slices of the lasagna from my freezer stash. It must have gone over well because said sister has now requested that this very lasagna be Christmas dinner!
While I am indeed flattered and happy to oblige, I’m not sure how I’m going to feed the whole family on two and a half freezer-burned slices of lasagna from October…
Are there any particular culinary accomplishments you want to check off your list before you die?