I often struggle with ideas for weekday lunches. I like dishes that I can make on Sunday, and then freeze or refrigerate. When I’m ready to head out the door, in a rush or with time to spare, all I have to do is grab the pre-made lunch from the refrigerator or freezer and be on my way.
I just can’t get in the habit of putting together lunches in the morning. For that reason, sandwiches and salads are sort of out of the question.
I came across this recipe in Cherry Bombe Magazine. Have you heard of Cherry Bombe Magazine? It’s a bi-annual magazine that celebrates woman and food. What’s not to love?
The recipe in the magazine was a vegetarian version. I changed things up a bit with smoked mozzarella cheese instead of fresh mozzarella. The lasagna is flavorful, savory, and fairly easy to put together. I almost don’t feel bad about the pasta and the cheese because of all the butternut squash in it.
To make it vegetarian, just omit the ground beef.
Butternut Squash Lasagna with Spiced Beef and Smoked Mozzarella
Adapted from Cherry Bombe Magazine Issue 2 Fall/Winter 2013
Butternut Squash and Ground Beef Layer
4 lb butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1lb lean ground beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1lb lasagna noodles, cooked or you can use fresh lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Lightly oil an 11 inch by 15 inch baking pan, I use a Misto oil sprayer filled with sunflower oil to spray the pan. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
Peel the butternut squash, cut in half and remove the seeds. Cut into 1 inch cubes.
Divide among 2 rimmed cookie sheets. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over each cookie sheet. Sprinkle each cookie sheet with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Toss and bake for 30 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, use a spatula to turn the butternut squash to ensure even baking. Remove from the oven and let cool. Spoon into a large bowl, and mash about half of the butternut squash leaving the other half in cubes. Set aside.
In a deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized. About 20 minutes. Remove onions with a spoon and add into bowl with butternut squash.
In the same skillet, add in the ground beef, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Using a spatula, crumble the beef into small pieces as it cooks. Cook until brown, about 15 minutes. Add into the bowl with the butternut squash and onion. Add vegetable broth to the bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
In a small skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sage leaves. Cook until lightly browned and crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Set a few leaves aside to decorate the lasagna. Crumble the rest into the butternut squash mixture and mix well.
In a medium bowl add: ricotta, smoked mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, heavy cream, egg yolks, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375F. Assemble the lasagna. Place a thin layer of the ricotta mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer with lasagna noodles. Add half of the butternut squash mixture, then half of the cheese mixture. Repeat. Finish with a layer of lasagna noodles, sprinkle the top with 1 cup Parmesan cheese and garnish with the reserved sage leaves. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes so that the lasagna is easier to cut into and the layers don’t fall apart. If making ahead, refrigerate until cold. Then cut into portions and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate or freeze.