I spoke too soon saying Spring had sprung in the UK and we should all start eating salad and drinking Caipirinhas in the garden! There’s still a chill in the air this week, so I’m making a warming, sweet and fragrant roasted butternut squash lasagna for dinner tonight. This can be made the day before and kept in the fridge till you want to bake it and it also freezes really well once baked. Roll on summer though!
Serves 4 – 6
200g butternut squash
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
For the tomato sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1 x red pepper, deseeded & chopped
1 x clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 x 400g tinned Italian plum tomatoes
10 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
Salt & pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
For the Cheese sauce
25g unsalted butter
25g plain flour
100g grated mature cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1 egg yolk
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 200c / 390f.
Peel, deseed and chop the butternut squash into 2cm cubes, place in an oven dish and toss in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. I use the same medium sized dish I’m going to make the lasagna in, saves on dishes! Roast in the oven for 40 mins to an hour until browned and starting to caramelise.
For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low/medium heat, add the onion and cook really slowly for about 10 mins until they are soft and translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute making sure the garlic doesn’t burn and go bitter. Add the red pepper and cook for 5 minutes until soft, then add the plum tomatoes, thyme, oregano and season with salt and pepper, then simmer for 15 mins, stiring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly.
For the cheese sauce, melt the butter over a low/medium heat then whisk in the flour until combined to a thick paste, turn heat to low and whisk gently for 4 mins to cook out the flour a bit. Then gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time, whisking to keep smooth and remove lumps until you have a smooth white sauce. Next stir in the grated cheese, nutmeg and give a good grind of salt and pepper. Stir on a low heat until smooth and velvety then leave to cool for 10 mins, after which stir in the egg yolk.
Add the roasted squash to the tomato sauce. Place half this mixture into the bottom of your oven dish, then cover with lasagna sheets (breaking sheets up to fit any spaces), then the remainder of the tomato and squash sauce, then another layer of lasagna, then all the cheese sauce and bake in the oven for first 30 mins then cover with tin foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve with a fresh green salad of spinach and watercress.