Lasagna always seemed to be the other main dish my family paired with turkey or ham for a big gathering. This version follows that tradition, yet is a soulful twist using the best of vegetable ingredients and flavors. Rich butternut squash turns into a buttery, luscious sauce. Fresh sage scents creamy ricotta along with a hint of nutmeg for a light yet decadent filling. Toasted hazelnuts bring depth and an unexpectedly delicious crunch. And spicy arugula balances with ooey gooey fresh mozzarella all to create a new mainstay.
For the butternut sauce
- 2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
- 2 1⁄2 cups vegetable stock
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
For the ricotta
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 32 oz. fresh ricotta
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
For the lasagna
1 1-lb package lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 7 oz. package fresh arugula
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced about 1/4" thick
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the squash and garlic in a medium sized pot. Add the vegetable stock. Cover. Bring to a slow boil on medium-high heat. Turn down to medium and simmer for 25-30 minutes until the squash is tender. Take off the heat; drain any remaining liquid. Add the butter and whisk together. Set aside.
While the squash is cooking, prepare the ricotta filling. In a medium mixing bowl, add the cheese and loosen up with a whisk or wooden spoon. Add the garlic, parmesan, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until time to put the lasagna together.
To finish the butternut sauce, add the cream, salt and pepper. Whisk until mostly smooth (some lumps are OK) and well blended. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula. Give it one more quick whisk and set aside.
To assemble to lasagna, use a large, deep baking dish. Ladle just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of lasagna noodles on top. Using a rubber spatula, spread a thin amount of the ricotta filling over the noodles – enough so they are just covered. Sprinkle a handful of hazelnuts on top. Add a thin layer of arugula, about a cup and a half. Ladle another layer of sauce over the arugula and repeat the steps. Place one more layer of noodles to finish. Spoon the remaining sauce on top. Cover with the mozzarella slices.
Place on the middle oven rack and bake 40-45 minutes, turning once halfway through. It is done when the cheese is melted and edges and top are slightly brown and a bit crusty. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes.
Sprinkle the top with remaining nuts and a handful of arugula. Serve.