Chicken, Spinach & Butternut Squash Lasagna
I know it sounds crazy, but trust me when I tell you, you have to make this one! This is one of the tastiest lasagnas you’ll ever eat and its fairly healthy. I used cottage cheese instead of Ricotta (first time for me) and went pretty conservative with the Mozzarella.
I started my quest for a recipe a few days ago. I had leftovers from a roaster chicken that I had made earlier in the week and I didn’t want them to go to waste. But, I hate leftovers that are just the same dang meal. I want leftovers to taste completely different. So, my mind started thinking about lasagnas. Then it started thinking about my favorite veggie combination spinach and butternut squash. If you wanted a vegetarian version, just omit the chicken and the egg. It will still be fabulous.
After a search on Google under “Butternut Squash Lasagna” I once again realized that I was not having any culinary breakthroughs here. There are hundreds of recipes out there for butternut squash lasagna. My buddy, Giada De Laurentiis (we’re tight) over at the Foodnetwork has a Butternut Squash Lasagna recipe which has garnered some rave reviews. Her recipe calls for a lot of basil which sounded interesting, but I thought it might overshadow the butternut squash.
One of my Twitter followers (follow me @jerseybites) from Culinary Competitor sent me a recipe for Winter Squash, Mushroom and Swiss chard lasagna. This recipe was getting closer to what I was thinking, but it called for Red Sauce and for some reason I was thinking a Bechamel sauce would go well. It also called for Tofu (you know those Californians and their Tofu.) Since I already had the cottage cheese, the Tofu wasn’t happening this time around.
So, push came to shove and this recipe was born from my need to use up leftover chicken and my love for Butternut squash and spinach. The Bechamel Sauce is the same sauce I use for the Green Bean Casserole I posted a while ago. I’m increasing the measurements by 1/2 because I found it didn’t quite make enough.
Many of the recipes I read call for boiling the Butternut Squash. I think this “waters down” the flavor of the squash. I prefer to toss the squash pieces with some garlic olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Then just mash them with a potato masher. No need for any food processors in this recipe.
1 medium (3 lb) Butternut Squash. Peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Tbs. Garlic Oil or Garlic Fused Olive Oil (my favorite)
S&P to taste
9 No Boil Lasagna noodles (**see my note on this at bottom)
2 boxes of Frozen spinach (thawed and drained well)
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup low fat, small curd cottage cheese
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
3 cups whole milk (I used Lactaid skim milk, and it works just fine)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 healthy pinch of nutmeg
While squash is cooking, mix spinach with cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and egg and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup flour; whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk; continue whisking until mixture thickens, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, and 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Remove from heat; let cool, mixing occasionally.
Time to Assemble:
Top with 3 lasagna noodles, then a layer of the spinach mixture.
Top this with a half a cup of the shredded chicken and half of the butternut squash.
Top squash with a couple ladles of sauce and 3 more noodles. Repeat second layer, spinach, chicken, butternut squash, sauce and Add 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese. Top with last three noodles, cover with sauce and last cup of mozzarella cheese.
Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
**note on the no boil lasagna noodles. I am not a fan. The next time I make this I will probably go old school and buy the boiling kind. I do not like the crunchy ends that almost always come with the no boil variety.
And, last but not least, a picture of my kitchen after creating a new recipe. Why doesn’t Ina Garten’s kitchen ever look like this?
Now, I’m off to have leftover lasagna for lunch. Yum!