Kale and Butternut Squash Lasagna with Herbed Ricotta
This vegetarian lasagna is the perfect dish to make when it’s starting to feel like spring, but you’re still craving cozy comfort food. Sautéed kale and tender butternut squash make this version feel filling, yet healthy, while fresh herbs and lemon zest keep it light and bright. Lasagna is an involved dish to prepare, but it’s a great way to get the whole family involved in dinner. Assign everyone a component to make – sauté the kale, roast the squash or cook the lasagna noodles - and the casserole comes together with little fuss. Chef Hack: Butternut squash is a tricky ingredient to prepare because its thick skin makes it very hard to peel. Here, we cook the squash briefly in the microwave to loosen the skin, making it much easier to prep.
- 1 large butternut squash about 4 pounds
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound lasagna noodles
- 2 pounds Lacinato kale stems discarded and leaves chopped, about 4 to 5 small bunches
- 3 large garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest plus 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 15-ounce container whole milk ricotta
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella shredded or torn into small pieces
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- ¼ cup chopped basil leaves
- ¼ cup chopped tarragon leaves
- ¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
- 1 ½ cups shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup unsalted butter cubed
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 5 cups whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Using a fork, prick holes all over the butternut squash, then trim the ends with a sturdy chef’s knife. Transfer the squash to the microwave and cook for 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, peel the squash. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds; discard. Slice the squash ¼-inch thick. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Spread in an even layer across two large rimmed baking sheets. Roast until tender but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the lasagna noodles until just starting to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well and transfer the noodles to a baking sheet. Toss the noodles with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the kale in batches and cook over moderately-high heat, stirring frequently, until tender and wilted, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, lemon juice and crushed red pepper. Season with salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, basil, tarragon, parsley, lemon zest and ½ cup of the parmesan. Season with salt and black pepper.
- In a small saucepan, gently warm the milk over low heat. Do not let it bubble. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk the flour into the butter and cook over moderately-low heat, stirring constantly, until the roux begins to thicken (do not let it brown). Slowly whisk in the warmed milk, ½ cup at a time, allowing the béchamel to thicken between additions. Bring the béchamel to a simmer and cook over moderately-low heat, whisking frequently, until the sauce has thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the nutmeg and ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Assemble the lasagna. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of the béchamel on the bottom of the baking dish (about ½ cup). Line the baking dish with a single layer of noodles, cutting as needed to fit. Layer one-third of the roasted squash on top of the noodles. Top with one-third of the sautéed kale. Dollop one-third of the ricotta mixture randomly over the greens. Drizzle 1/2 cup béchamel evenly over the ricotta mixture. Repeat this process two more times for a total of 3 layers, finishing with a layer of noodles. Spread the remaining béchamel over the top
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, or until heated through and slightly firm. Remove from the oven and uncover. Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of parmesan cheese over the top and broil about 4 inches from the heat until golden brown and crisp on top, about 5 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
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