Hosting a vegetarian for Thanksgiving? So am I, in fact, I’m hosting four of them! Since Thanksgiving is not only about old traditions — but building new ones as well — I gladly welcome the idea of bringing new twists to the table.
In all of my dishes, I’ll be swapping out standard chicken broth with a good, flavorful vegetable stock. And for my vegetarian friends, the center of their plate won’t be a bird or ham, but a rich and savory butternut squash lasagna.
Butternut squash can be mellow in flavor so I like to roast it first, then mix with freshly chopped sage and melted sweet cream butter. To give the lasagna a rich texture, I make a creamy bechamel sauce with grated nutmeg, and the familiar ricotta cheese filling gets a boost with chopped parsley and grated pecorino.
Many people like to use “no-boil” noodles, but in a butternut squash lasagna, the filling is on the drier side, so I recommend going with traditional noodles. If you have only the no-boil type on hand, soak in hot water ahead of assembling.
The nice thing about this dish is that it can be prepared ahead of time and served with dinner — or anytime butternut squash is available. This is not only a big hit among my vegetarian friends, but all the omnivores in my life. Regardless of how you spend your Thanksgiving, I hope you take time to reflect and be grateful for the gifts of good health, great friends and happy memories. With many more good things to come!
Butternut Squash Lasagna
2 large butternut squashes
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
1 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pound lasagna noodles, prepared al dente
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the bechamel sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
Grated nutmeg to taste
- Heat the oven to 400 F.
- With a vegetable peeler, remove the skins from the squash and scoop out the seeds. Chop squash into one-inch pieces and place on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Toss and coat well. Spread into an even layer and place in hot oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- In a saucepan, combine the butter with the chopped sage. Remove from heat and allow the sage to infuse the butter.
- Transfer squash to a food processor or stand mixer. While processing, add the butter and slowly add the vegetable broth. Adjust seasonings and set aside.
- In a heavy saucepan, begin the bechamel by melting the butter. Whisk in the flour then slowly add the milk. Once your sauce has reached your desired consistency, flavor with the nutmeg and salt and pepper as desired.
- Combine the ricotta cheese, chopped parsley, beaten eggs and pecorino cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Spray a 13×9 inch deep baking pan. Ladle a small amount of bechamel into the pan. Place of layer of noodles down, then a layer of the butternut squash, followed by the ricotta. Spoon bechamel over the cheese, then repeat with another layer of noodles and squash. Repeat this pattern until you reach the top.
- The final layer should be more bechamel and the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Bake until cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Allow lasagna to cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve immediately.