The butternut squash from this week’s distribution had a few wrinkled skins or soft spots. The squash is fantastic, but this means that you should eat it more quickly or roast and freeze for later. Last spring, I could not eat anymore squash and I roasted, strained and put it in the freezer. It will last more than six months and will be easier to eat, because it is already partially prepared. I roasted my squash on Friday and learned that my German Shepherd LOVES butternut squash. She would not leave me alone until I fed her some.
A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my freezer. I had a bag of squash and a bag of frozen pesto. I thawed them in the fridge and wondered what I would make with them. Then it came to me…a lasagna with pesto ricotta cheese and butternut squash sauce. I usually mix spinach with ricotta cheese so this was easy to create. My mother in law helped in the cooking and we had a creamy new lasagna.
Amy Hetager, CSA Blogger
Butternut Squash Pesto Lasagna from Amy
1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
1 container of ricotta cheese
2-1/2 cups pesto
1 cup milk
2 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 tblsp butter
a little cheddar cheese for the top
Prepping Butternut Squash and Freezing Tips
I cut the top off the squash and then slice it from the stem to the bottom. This will give you two pieces that will roast more quickly. You can remove the seeds and save for your garden next year before you roast. I place these face down in a pan with water at the bottom. 375 degrees for about 50 minutes will give you a nice texture. I touch the top of the squash to see if it gives. Remove from the pan to cool completely.
The skin should peel off easily and is very thin. I place all of the parts in a bowl and smash with a potato masher. This next part imparts flavor into the squash and works for this recipe and for freezing. I saute an onion and 4 cloves of garlic. Add a few teaspoons of spices, such as cumin and coriander. Once the spices are heated, add the squash and some chicken broth, enough to stir easily. I cook this on low for 30 minutes. The texture is more like a thick sauce than a soup. Let that cool. Blend with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth.
I am picky about the texture of my squash, so I have started straining it. My strainer is a metal strainer that I got at a discount store, so it is not fancy. I just place the mixture in the strainer and push into a bowl. A thick spatula works well. This does take time, but removes the strings for a smooth texture. I do this before freezing because it makes it easier to use after it is thawed. This could be a vegetable side dish, a soup or this lasagna.
The butternut squash can become the sauce for the lasagna. A bechamel sauce will help keep the squash together for a sauce and add a nice creamy texture. I start with 2 tblsp of butter and then add 2 tblsp of flour. Stir together and cook for a few minutes. It should be a yellow lump in your pan. Add milk slowly and wisk to remove all of the lumps. This can be cooked on med-low to see tiny bubbles around the sides of the pan. Watch this closely or it will create a crust on the top instead of thickening. Once the sauce is thick enough to cling to the spoon, you can add the butternut squash. I add 2 bunches of fresh, diced sage at the end of the cooking.
The ricotta cheese, egg and pesto can be stirred together. This will form the other filling for the lasagna.
Cook the noodles and lay flat. I add some cooking spray to the baking dish and start with a little sauce at the bottom. Add the noodles, ricotta, sauce and a layer of mozzarella cheese. Continue to layer until the top. At the top, add the cheddar cheese. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Enjoy! If you can not eat all of the lasagna this week, this will freeze well. I cut the pieces and place them in packages of two. Wrap these in foil and then place in plastic bags with a label. I bake these in the in the foil for 40 minutes and they make a great lunch in the winter.