Like most of the dishes we’ve been posting through the winter months, the vegetable portion of this dish relies on seasonal produce. This buttercup squash has patiently sat on our dining room table these many months waiting for its time to become dinner. (As someone whose goal is to eat only seasonal and local foods, and who works full-time and has a baby, I love squash because it requires absolutely no messin’ with to preserve for a long time.)
For the frozen spinach component we actually use greens taken from our garden last summer and blanched and frozen. The greens are actually a combination of kale, chard, collards, and beet and turnip greens. However, since spinach is the only widely available frozen green and it seems tedious to list “frozen spinach, kale, chard, collards, or beet greens” in the recipe, spinach is what I listed here. Incidentally, this combo of greens is what we actually use in any recipe we post that calls for frozen spinach.
Last but not least, the PESTO. If you are like me, in August, when basil is everywhere and the garlic is freshly cured, you make and freeze lots of pesto. More pesto then you will ever actually use. Well, if you are in this predicament, then this is the recipe for you because it uses a fair amount of pesto.
One more thing about this dish, there are several steps that can be done a day or two ahead of time–par baking the squash, cooking the noodles, making the pesto sauce–that make the actual assembly and cooking of the dish very fast.
Pesto Winter Lasagna Makes one 9 x 13 dish (10-12 servings).
Cook off 12 lasagna noodles. Toss them in oil so they don’t stick together. Set aside.
Halve and seed a small winter squash, such as buttercup or butternut. Bake at 425 for half an hour. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice 1/4-inch thick. Set aside.
For the pesto sauce you will need:
2 T. butter
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
8 oz. (~1/2 c.) basil pesto
3 c. milk (preferably whole)
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour, mixing constantly, until the flour has browned a little. This should take only a few minutes. Mix in the pesto, then whisk in the milk. Adding the pesto first gives an added boost of fat that helps to ensure the milk doesn’t break when making the sauce. Let the sauce almost boils, stirring often. Then reduce heat and let simmer several minutes, whisking, until thickened. Set aside.
When you are ready to assemble the dish, mix together:
1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed
1 lb. ricotta cheese
You do not need to squeeze the excess water from the spinach because it makes the ricotta more spreadable. Moreover, by squeezing out the excess water you lose water-soluble vitamins.
Okay, now we are going to assemble the dish. Preheat the oven at 350. The other ingredients you will need are:
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. parmesan cheese, shredded
Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spoon ~1/2 c. of the pesto sauce into the bottom of the dish. Put down a layer of 4 noodles. Add a layer of ricotta-spinach mixture. Next do a layer of sliced squash. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Ladle over some of the pesto sauce. Repeat for a total of three layers. Finish with the rest the sauce then sprinkle with cheese. (You will probably have some squash left over.) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and delicious. Eat!