Welcome to a new week! Christmas is just around the corner and many of us (present company included) are getting ready for the food feasts that lay ahead. Yes, there will be vast quantities of food; a veritable cornucopia of goodies to munch, gorge out on and subsequently pass out in our satisfied food coma states.
Yes, today is Meatless Monday, but perhaps you’re in practice mode for Wednesday: eating on bits of meat here and there today in preparation for the real deal of the Christmas meal. That’s perfectly fine . . . but let me just say that this week’s recipe is a wonderful meatless lasagna with a couple of twists that may compel you to opt for this beauty over a hunk of meat. These Butternut Squash Spinach Lasagna Rolls are my spin on a classic. I simply merged ingredients that I thought would complement one another and please the palate. I think I succeeded, especially with the added ‘secret’ ingredient to help the squash puree pop! Read on to find out what that ingredient is. Happy Meatless Monday and bon appetit.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone.
Butternut Squash Spinach Lasagna Rolls
- @1 1/4 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup crumbled spice cookies (pssst….this is the ‘secret’ ingredient)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
For the Lasagna:
- 10-12 lasagna noodles, cooked
- 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, excess water removed
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup Italian blend cheese, shredded
- 1 large egg
- Salt and fresh pepper
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans
For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook lasagna noodles al dente. Remove from water, strain and place in strips on wax paper to dry.
In a large bowl, combine squash cubes, shallot, garlic, sage, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix well. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking oil and roast in oven for about an hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place squash and spice cookies in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Place mixture in a bowl; add nutmeg and allspice.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, parmesan, salt and pepper.
PREPARE THE SAUCE
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken slightly (be sure to whisk often); continue for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Allow sauce to cool slightly before transferring half of it to a blender. Add the fresh basil and blend. Return basil sauce to the remaining sauce in the pan and combine to blend well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of basil sauce on the bottom of a glass baking dish.
Spread ricotta cheese mixture on lasagna noodle; on top of ricotta mixture, spread the butternut squash mixture.
Leave approximately 1/2 inch free from mixture on each short end and begin to roll each lasagna noodle. Place roll seam side down onto prepared baking dish. Repeat until all noodles are used.
Pour basil sauce over lasagna rolls and cover dish tightly with foil; bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, top with toasted pecans and serve.