ROASTED SQUASH AND SPINACH LASAGNA
by Diana Henry
Everybody loves lasagna—you can almost hear the sighs of satisfaction as you place it on the table—and you can adapt this at will, adding roasted mushrooms (roasted to drive off the moisture), or sauteed fennel.
For The Lasagna
• 5 lb butternut squash, peeled and seeded
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• salt and pepper
• 2¼ lb spinach, washed
• 3 tbsp butter
• generous grating of nutmeg
• 8 to 12 fresh lasagna noodles
• 4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
For The Tomato Sauce
• Two 14 oz cans tomatoes in thick juice
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 4 tsp light brown sugar
For The Bechamel Sauce
• 6 cups whole milk
• 10 peppercorns
• 1/2 onion
• 1 bay leaf
• 2/3 cup butter
• 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
• grated nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the squash, put into a roasting pan, drizzle on the oil, and season. Toss and roast until tender and slightly charred. It can take 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Season to taste.
3. For the bechamel, put the milk in a saucepan with the peppercorns, onion, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and leave for 45 minutes to infuse. Strain. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the flour. Over a low heat, stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gradually add the milk, beating well after each addition and adding more only when completely smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring, until thick. Reduce the heat and cook for 4 minutes, then season well, adding the nutmeg.
4. Put die spinach in a saucepan with the water that clings to it after washing. Cover and put over medium heat. Wilt for about 4 minutes, turning. Squeeze out the water, chop the spinach, and put it in a frying pan with 1 tbsp of the butter. Heat gently, tossing, season, and add the nutmeg.
5. Use the remaining butter to grease a pie or gratin dish (about 1½ qt capacity). Add a layer of squash, then a layer of tomato sauce. Lay lasagna noodles on top, cut so they don't overlap. Add a layer of bechamel, half the spinach, and half die cheese. Now put in another layer of lasagna and the remaining spinach. Add a layer of squash, a layer of tomato sauce and a final layer of bechamel. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.