Vegetarian Butternut Squash-Leek Lasagna, Wheat-berry salad, and New Belgian Pumpkin Ale

RECIPE Adapted from Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook by Nancy Vienneau

BUTTERNUT SQUASH-LEEK LASAGNA

This might be my favorite way to prepare butternuts. The layering of three components makes this recipe unique: roasted butternut squash puree, leek-ricotta béchamel and stewed yellow tomatoes.

Roasted Butternut Squash
2 butternut squashes–medium size, or 1 large butternut
olive oil
salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut butternuts in half. Scoop out seeds. Brush both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin side up onto a baking pan and roast uncovered for 30-40 minutes. The outside skin will brown and blister slightly, and the whole squash will soften and collapse. When this occurs, remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cooled, the skin will peel away from the meat of the squash. Where it doesn’t peel away, scoop out the meat with a spoon. Place all roasted squash into a food processor fitted with the swivel blade and puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The mixture will be fairly thick and creamy. If it’s too thick (as in too difficult to spread with a spatula over lasagna) thin with a little half- and-half.

Leek-Ricotta Bechamel
4 leeks, cleaned well and chopped–use white and green parts
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup ricotta salt and white pepper–to taste

In a 3 qt. saucepan, melt butter on medium heat and add leeks. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until leeks soften and separate. Sprinkle in flour, and stir rapidly, so that the leeks are well coated. When the flour has absorbed all liquid/butter, and cooked onto the leeks, pour in the half-and-half. Keep stirring. Soon, the sauce will bubble and thicken. Add the ricotta and stir well. Season with salt and white pepper. The sauce will be rich tasting and somewhat sweet from the leeks.

The Assembly
1 box No Boil lasagna
leek-ricotta bechamel
butternut squash puree
1 handful fresh sage leaves, chopped
4 oz. Pecorino-Romano cheese to grate
¼ cup walnut halves/pieces to garnish top (optional)

Lightly coat a 9×13 deep-dish style baking pan or casserole with olive oil. Then, cover the bottom of the casserole with a layer of leek bechamel. Place lasagna on top. Spread a layer of butternut over that. Sprinkle chopped sage over the butternut, and spoon over with bechamel.

Add your 2nd lasagna layer. Grate some pecorino-romano over the tomatoes, dot with bechamel and add 3rd lasagna layer. Spread butternut over the lasagna, sprinkle with chopped sage, and cover with 4th (and final) lasagna. Cover the top with remaining bechamel. Grate romano over the top.

At this point, you can refrigerate it and bake it the next day, if you like. Otherwise, seal with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (This helps the casserole to steam up as it bakes, cooking the pasta.) Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.