Yes it’s another lasagne….
I do not really remember when my sister became a vegetarian, but I do remember the joy of seeing two lasagnes on the dinner table for the first time.
As a devoted seasonal veg box subscriber, lasagnes are a great way to use up a lot of veg in one go and make something substantial to help get through the winter chill. Béchamel with a browned topping hits the spot.
This is a rather festive ‘white’ lasagne (no tomato). Butternut squash, leeks, greens, sage, chestnuts, ricotta and béchamel are the main ingredients here.
If you do not eat dairy – take out the ricotta cheese and double the quantity of béchamel sauce and mix with the veg. I would avoid subbing with vegan cheese. The cheap stuff is generally horrible with a funny taste and equally funny ingredients. It is probably a crime to use really expensive artisan vegan cheese as a layer in a lasagne.
You could make the filling a day ahead (I do this kind of thing a lot more now I am on a parent cooking schedule) and it does make me feel like I have cheated time to an extent.
Time – 1 hour 45 – 2 hours minutes (including cooking time of 45 minutes)
Serves – 6
Baking dish / tray
Large frying pan
Lasagne and filling
Lasagne sheets – 08 approximately
1 butternut squash or other seasonal squash – kabocha, onion etc (not spaghetti squash).
300g of dark greens – nice options are spinach, winter greens, kavalo nero or baby kale. Or if you are daring….brussel sprouts?!
4 sage leaves (if you love sage then feel free to add more!)
150 – 200 g peeled and cooked chestnuts
500g Ricotta cheese
60g butter (sub with olive oil if making dairy free)
650 – 700 ml milk (if making dairy free, use a plant milk without too much flavour)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 sage leaves
1/2 tsp salt
Optional – 3 tbsp hard cheese
- If you are increasing the quantities to make extra sauce for mixing with the filling – increase to 70g olive oil, 70g flour, 1 litre of oat milk. Mix approx 300g with the squash mixture in place of the ricotta.
- Heat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 7, peel the squash and chop into rough cubes (size doesn’t matter). Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle on 1 tsp salt and 1tsp black pepper. Mix to combine with the cubes. Roast in the oven for approximately 35 minutes until golden and soft. Set aside.
Whilst the squash is roasting make the rest of the filling: –
- Thinly slice the leeks and rough chop the greens. Thinly slice the sage leaves. Chop the chestnuts (different sized pieces are nice so that they add some interesting texture).
- In your frying pan, warm 100-150ml olive oil (to cover the base ) and an optional slice of butter. Add the sage and leeks and cook on a low heat until soft and translucent. Add the greens and cook until wilted. Season with black pepper and 1 tsp salt
- Add the ricotta cheese, chestnuts and combine well.
- Check for seasoning / add more salt and pepper to your taste. I would add at least 1 tsp of salt at this point as ricotta is quite a bland cheese). Check again and add more if you require. For salt addicts like me that’s probably more like 2.
- Add the squash last to avoid over mixing it. It is nice to have some cubes and also some squishy pieces that are more like a puree.
- Set aside
- Add the butter / oil to a high sided saucepan and warm gently (the butter should be melted.
- Take off the heat and add the flour and mix to a smooth paste (I use a hand whisk but a wooden spoon also works fine)
- Put the pan pack on a medium heat and add 100 ml milk and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Once the sauce thickens, add another 100 ml of milk and stir again.
- Add the 2 sage leaves whole
- At the beginning do not add the milk too quickly, otherwise it will not thicken properly.
- Once you have added about 300ml of milk (100ml at a time) you can add the rest and leave on a low heat stirring occasionally.
- Once you have added all your milk and the sauce is the consistency of double cream, add the seasonings; black pepper, salt and nutmeg and hard cheese grated if using.
- Remove the sage leaves.
- If you are mixing it with the filling above, instead of the ricotta, combine approximately 300g of the sauce now and check for seasoning.
Heat the oven to 180 C / fan or gas mark 6
Layer the lasagne in your baking tray: –
- Add half the squash filling to the bottom of the baking tray
- Add the lasagne sheets. If necessary break up a few to fit round the edges
- Add the rest of the filling
- Add one more layer of lasagne sheets
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the top
- Bake in the oven for approx 30 minutes
- Increase the heat to 200 C / gas mark 7 and bake for approximately 15 / 20 minutes more until browned and bubbly.
Let it rest for 10 minutes at least.
This is best eaten warm rather than hot with a zesty, crisp green salad.