I’ve made more frumpy vegetarian lasagnas than I’d care to admit—but they’re just so easy and crowd-pleasing, if not a bit graceless. So with my gloppy lasagnas in mind, I began eyeing a beguiling butternut squash in quest of creating a more elegant version. The result is this lovely white lasagna, gooey with a bit of cheese and speckled with chunks of caramelized butternut squash, golden raisins and toasted pine nuts.
I replaced ricotta with an easy bechamel sauce made with milk for a lighter (that’s a relative term here) lasagna. If you want to skip the whisking, substitute ricotta for the sauce—two 15-ounce containers will do the trick.
For the Filling
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for about 3 minutes at 350 degrees
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
For the Sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
5 cups organic milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
For the Rest
8 ounces (about 2 cups) grated fresh (if available) mozzarella
3 ounces (about 3/4 cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese
12 fresh pasta sheets (you can use no boil pasta sheets, but they will work better if you are using sauce)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash in olive oil, maple syrup, and salt and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until squash is lightly browned and tender.
2. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Remove squash, dump in a bowl and gently toss with raisins and pine nuts.
3. Saute garlic in butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium low heat, for 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in salt and cayenne and remove from heat.
4. Mix cheeses together.
5. In a buttered 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish spread 2/3 cup sauce and cover with pasta sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and 1/3 of filling, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.
6. Cover baking dish with foil and bake lasagna in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more.
7. Always let lasagna sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.