Finding uses for a 7-pound butternut squash is a lot harder than it looks.
The CSA my family joined has moved onto it’s Winter Share season. The above picture is from our mid-December bag, which included: 2-pound bag of carrots, one candy onion, a loaf of whole wheat bread, one kohlrabi, one acorn squash, one bunch of turnips with greens, one bunch of collard greens, 1-pound fingerling potatoes, 24-ounces of fresh canned summer peaches, and a mammoth 7-pound butternut squash.
This thing was so huge, I dragged it up the stairs to weigh it on the scale. Comically large, we had no idea how to approach this thing. It reminded me of Jim Gaffigan’s “Cinnabon” bit from his “Beyond the Pale” comedy special.
“Do I sit in it or eat it?”
How do you cook a 7-pound squash?
After eyeing the behemoth that took up a good one-eighth of the kitchen table for a few weeks, I finally broke down and cooked the dang thing. Using my Aunt’s method, I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and baked it in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for and hour and 15 minutes. Actually, my Aunt is the one to blame for all these squash shenanigans, she’s the one who introduced us to the CSA.
After removing the squash from the oven, I let it cool to room temperature and scraped the cooked squash away from the skin. It yielded 10 cups of squash pulp.
Since I didn’t use any oil or seasonings during roasting, this makes the squash a nice base for both savory and sweet cooking applications. I’m going to try swapping the squash into a quick recipe, think a la banana or zucchini bread, and maybe even pancakes.
But this lasagna, man, it’s pretty darn good, too. Our CSA, Fresh Fork Market, has previously sent us fresh butternut squash and sage pasta from Ohio City Pasta. Figured if the flavor combination worked there, it could work on a bigger scale too.
I’ve made veggie lasagnas before, but never squash. Lasagna isn’t that hard, it’s just time consuming with all the layering. The recipe is pretty straightforward. Make a sauce, layer with pasta and flavorful filling, and bake.
You can find recipes all over the Internet for butternut squash lasagna. This recipe by no means reinvents the wheel, but I think it’s way less complicated than some of the recipes I looked at for reference.
If anyone has any suggestions for squash recipes, leave a comment below. I still have 6 cups of butternut squash pulp left to use!
Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagna, makes hearty 8 servings
4 cups roasted butternut squash pulp
1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup unsalted butter
5 cups Half-n-Half
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, julienned into thin strips
1 stalk fresh sage, leave whole
1 stalk fresh rosemary, leave whole
3/4 to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 to 1 cup ricotta cheese
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
Following spices all to taste:
- ground cumin
- Prepare your squash. I roasted mine in a 400-degree oven (Fahrenheit) for about and hour and 15 minutes (it WAS 7 pounds!). Let cool and scrape the flesh from the skin of the squash. Any leftover squash pulp freezes well. If you’re using frozen pulp, like I did, just remember to thaw it first and squeeze out any excess liquid. (I wrapped my thawed squash in cheese cloth and gave it a good wringing.)
- Make the béchamel. Melt butter in a large saucepan with the whole sage leaves and rosemary stalk. Add flour to the hot fat to make a roux. Cook about five minutes to have the raw flour taste cook out. Add the Half-n-Half and cook over medium heat. It will thicken after about 5-10 minutes. Be sure to stir well to remove any lumps of roux. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. (I barely use 1/8 tsp. of nutmeg since it is so potent.) Once done, let it cool a bit, but it should still be warm. Stir occasionally to avoid a skin forming on the top of the sauce.
- Assemble the lasagna. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with a thin layer of béchamel sauce. Place a single layer of noodles along the bottom of the pan (I used 4 noodles per layer). On top of the noodles, spread a layer of squash; sprinkle 1/3 of the julienned sage leaves; dollop on the ricotta cheese (I put two spoonfuls per noodle); sprinkle a light layer of Parmesan cheese; add light layers of salt, pepper, and ground cumin (remember the cheese has salt too); and top with another thin layer of sauce. Repeat the layering process 3 times. Top with a final layer of noodles and dump the remaining sauce on top and do another think layer of Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 45 minutes. The sauce should be nice and bubbly. If you want a browner top, turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it, this gives everything a chance to come together and cool a bit. The result is nice layers and a lasagna that holds together well. Serve warm with a side that’s slightly bitter to combat the richness of the lasagna. I served this with some broccoli rabe that was lightly steamed & pan fried with garlic oil and lemon juice. Bitter dark greens, like kale or collards would be really nice here, too.