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Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Lasagna With Butternut Squash

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

 

Makes 8 servings

The time of autumn is particularly exciting especially if you live in New England. The season brings along the search for fresh mushrooms, and this recipe combines both ingredients in an unusual way but very satisfying. Use white domestic mushrooms, cremini or shiitake, wiped with a damp cloth to remove excess dirt. Do not wash them.

Ingredients

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups minced onions

1/2 pound cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch-dice (about 5 1/2 cups)

1- 14-ounce vegetable broth, in can or make your own

4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided

4 tablespoons sliced fresh sage, divided

2-15-ounce containers whole-milk ricotta cheese

4 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided

2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 cup sundry tomatoes, julienne

4 large eggs

Olive oil

1 - 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles

Preparation

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to high; add mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl; set aside.

Add squash, broth, 3 tablespoons thyme, and 3 tablespoons sage to same skillet.

Cover and simmer over medium heat until squash is just tender, about 6 minutes. Uncover and cook until squash is very soft but still retains shape, about 5 minutes. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, sundry tomatoes and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon sage in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper; mix in eggs.

Brush 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with oil. Spread 1 cup ricotta mixture over bottom. Arrange 3 noodles on top. Spread 1-3/4 cups ricotta mixture over noodles. Arrange 1+1/3 cups squash mixture over. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mushrooms and 1 cup mozzarella. Top with 3 noodles, then 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, half of remaining squash, 1/2 cup mushrooms, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat with noodles, 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, remaining squash, and remaining mushrooms. Top with 3 noodles. Spread remaining ricotta mixture over; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with oiled foil.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake lasagna, covered, 35 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. (The lasagna can be assembled one day ahead and refrigerated.)

Info on butternut squash

Butternut squash is a type of edible plant with slightly sweet, bright orange flesh and an inedible, thick and tan skin. Native to Mexico and the surrounding areas, the flesh of the squash can be used in many dishes, and is a good source of vitamins. A popular winter squash, butternut squash can last as long as three months if kept in a cool place.

The labels "summer squash" and "winter squash" have very little bearing on their availability and usage today. Both classifications of squash are generally available in markets year round. A summer squash is a squash with a thin skin that will perish within a few days to a week, such as zucchini. Butternut squash is classified as a winter squash because it has a very thick skin and therefore, a long shelf life.

Butternut squash is grown on a vine and is best harvested when the fruit is fully mature. Complete maturation usually takes at least three months.

When the squash is ready for picking, it will be between 8 and 12 inches long (20.3 and 30.5 cm) and weigh between 2 and 3 pounds (0.97 and 1.36 kg). When the fruit is fully mature, it has a nutty, sweet taste.

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog

 

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