March 31, 2010

Dinner: Butternut Squash Lasagna

The first bite of this lasagna to meet my taste buds was a pleasant surprise; it was not super heavy (even though I love a good rich, meaty lasagna). The nutty sweetness of butternut squash, the recipe's namesake, is dominant in contrast to the aptly named "smoky" marinara. Sauteed spinach and onion add to the savory flavor of the Cooking Light recipe

Now, you might be thinking that this sounds like too much veggies, too much healthiness for a cheesy pasta dish. No worries; there are plenty of layers of cheese, marinara, and white pasta to give it the deliciousness of traditional lasagna. It just cuts it down to just enough sinful, heavy ingredients for just taste without being over-the-top.

I almost bought jarred lasagna to make prep easier but ultimately decided that the smoky recipe recipe was simple and that I had the time to make it in advance on this particular chill weekend. (I won't judge others for opting for the jar instead.) The layering instructions of the recipe got really confusing. We got a little off, but we managed to get some cheese on top, and it all worked out okay. 

We also halved the original recipe and only made one 8x8-inch pan instead of two-- this made for six hearty servings. The salad we served with the lasagna made the meal a little too veggiliciuos, especially because we helped ourselves to large servings of the star of the meal. We concluded that solely a crusty, warm baguette was the best accompaniment, not counting some red wine.

Butternut Squash Lasagna 
1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
5 cup  fresh spinach
1/2  cup  shredded sharp provolone cheese
1/4  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1  teaspoon  salt
1 large egg
1  (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2  cups  diced peeled butternut squash
3 cups  Smoky Marinara (see below)
12  oven-ready lasagna noodles 
1/2  cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 1 1/2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Combine provolone, parsley, salt, pepper, eggs, and ricotta cheeses in a large bowl.
Place squash in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and cook on high 5 minutes or until tender.
Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup Smoky Marinara in the bottom of one prepared dish. Arrange 2 ½ noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups squash over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over squash.
Arrange 2 ½ noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over the noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups onion mixture over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over spinach mixture.
Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup Smoky Marinara evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients in remaining pan. Cover each pan with foil.
Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Smoky Marinara
1  tablespoon  olive oil
3  garlic cloves, minced
1/4  cup  chopped fresh basil
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
2  teaspoons  balsamic vinegar
1/8  teaspoon  salt
1/8  teaspoon  pepper
1  (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1  (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

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