Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Butternut Squash & Hazelnut Lasagne

Okay, I know some of you (I'm looking at you, Joanne!) have been waiting with 'bated breath for this recipe. Actually, you could have pretty much had it at any time because I got it from Epicurious, and have not meddled with it much beyond the usual.

I should give a call-out to Presto Pasta Night, now that I finally have some pasta for them. It's at Pots & Plots this week. I should also have taken a picture as the first perfect slice was removed, but I was otherwise occupied and so the photo didn't happen until half the lasagne was gone, alas.

This is the first time I have made this recipe and I thought it was delicious. I'm not completely sure about the presence of the hazelnuts; I love hazelnuts, and indeed most nuts, but I'm not convinced they belong in things. It's a texture problem. However, the flavour was lovely with the squash, onions, cheese etc. It may be just one of those insoluble problems, or maybe I will try it with finely ground hazelnuts next time. And if you happen to be one of the many people who DO like nuts in things, there isn't even any problem at all.

As noted in the directions, I made this ahead of time and froze it before it was baked, and that worked out perfectly.

6 to 8 servings
2 1/2 hours - 1 1/2 hours prep time. But for heavens sake, allow yourself lots of time and assemble it in advance.

Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagne
Make the Filling:

1 large (1.5 kg or 3 to 4 pound) butternut squash
1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 large onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the squash in half, and remove the seeds. Peel the squash, and cut it into thin slices. Toss it with the first quantity of oil in a large roasting pan, and roast until barely tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toast the chopped hazelnuts in a dry skillet until golden brown. Put them aside in a large mixing bowl.

Peel and chop the onion. Heat the second quantity of oil in a large skillet and cook the onions very gently until golden, about half an hour over medium-low heat, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and seasonings, and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add them to the bowl with the hazelnuts, along with the cooled squash. Mix and set aside.

Make the Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
5 tablespoons flour
5 cups milk
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

Without cleaning the large skillet above, melt the butter in it. Cook the garlic gently for a minute or two, then sprinkle in the flour. Mix well, and cook for a minute or two longer. Slowly, oh so slowly, mix in the milk to make a smooth lump-free sauce. Add the bay leaf and salt, and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Assemble the Lasagne:
16 lasagne noodles; but be smart and cook a few extra
450 grams (1 pound) fresh mozzerella
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil, and cook the lasagne noodles for about two-thirds to three-quarters* of the recommended time. They should be barely pliable. Rinse them in cold water at once to stop them cooking any further.

Meanwhile, grate the mozzerella and Parmesan cheeses.

When you are ready to proceed, spread a little of the white sauce in the bottom of your lasagne pan, which should be approximately 9" x 13". Lay down a layer of the semi-cooked, drained noodles. Spread over them about one-third of the squash mixture, top with about one-quarter of the sauce, and one-quarter of the cheeses. Continue in this manner until you have used up all the filling, and have a final, top layer of noodles. Pour (spread) over the rest of the sauce and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

You may now bake the lasagne at 425°F, for 30 to 40 minutes. Cover it with foil if it is getting too brown too soon. Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

I froze mine, and semi-thawed** it before baking. As it was in a glass baking dish, I put it into a COLD oven, turned it on to 350°F for about 20 minutes then turned up the heat a bit more and proceeded. I'm not completely sure of the time; just keep an eye on it. Hot, golden-brown and bubbly is the goal, and about an hour from turning on the oven is probable. If you are not making it too far in advance (like a day ahead, or two) keep it covered in the fridge rather than freezing it, but proceed as described for the cold lasagne.

*Help stamp out mushy lasagne - they're going to get cooked some more, yo.

** On account of how I allowed it 24 hours to thaw, and 48 would have been more like it.


Ruth Daniels said...

Looks quite tempting. Like you, I usually save nuts for baking and nibbling. Hazelnuts are one of my favorite flavors so I can't wait to try this one out.

Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Joanne said...

I am completely enamored! Thank you so much! This is going to make it into my 12 Weeks of Winter Squash feature for sure.

I'm not sure how I feel about nuts in things. I used to be vehemently against them, and still am in things like ice cream, but I've been enjoying them more in savory foods.

Bellini Valli said...

The squashj and the hazelnuts would compliment each other beautifully. We both decided to cook ut yp with butternut...'tis the season.

Ferdzy said...

Thanks, guys.

I think when I do it again I will add hazelnuts - but I will make sure they are ground quite fine.

And yeah, 'tis indeed the season. I still have two more butternuts sitting on the counter and looking at me... what was I thinking?

The Food Hunter said...

What a great dish. I love the nuts.