Sunday, January 27, 2008

Roasted Squash-Onion Lasagna

No rambling today- just food, glorious food. This is all about a lasagna that is dreamy and cheesy. Lasagnas have many pros (crowd-pleasing, can be assembled ahead of time, one dish feeds a crowd, lend themselves to much creativity by way of vegetables, cheeses and sauces that can be used) and, in my mind, one glaring con (don't like boiling lasagna noodles). I got scalded some years ago while cooking lasagna noodles, and it has traumatized me for life.

Then I discovered no-boil lasagna noodles. This means that the dried noodles can be layered into the dish, and as long as you use a "saucy" sauce with enough liquid in it, the noodles cook as the lasagna bakes. In fact, because they cook in the sauce, they end up absorbing great flavor. And I can make lasagna on weeknights, which is very very exciting.

This is the 365 brand (store-brand of Whole Foods), in case anyone wants to know. They are thin noodles, and they fit perfectly into my baking dish- two to a layer.

Most butternut squash lasagna recipes call for pureeing the cooked squash, but I really wanted to bite into chunks of it, so I left it at that. The sauce here is a thin bechamel sauce (to allow enough liquid for the noodles to cook). Of course, one can use normal lasagna sheets (cook them first) and in that case, make a thicker sauce by cutting down on the milk.

Roasted Squash-Onion Lasagna

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(makes 4-5 servings)
Ingredients:
1 lb butternut squash slices (peel, cube, then slice)
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 T olive oil
6 to 8 no-boil lasagna sheets
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
4-5 T parmesan cheese
Bechamel sauce
2.5 T butter
2.5 T flour
3 C milk
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. On a baking sheet, place the onions and butternut squash slices. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Bake the vegetables for 30-40 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown.
2. Meanwhile, make bechamel sauce using the proportions given above and using the standard method (eg. this or this). Season with nutmeg and set aside.
3. Once the roasted vegetables and bechamel sauce are ready, the lasagna can be assembled: Spread 1/2 C or so of the white sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 square baking dish. Place 1 layer of lasagna sheets on it. Add some roasted vegetables, cover with sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat this 3-4 times or until the vegetables and sauce is used up. If you have had trouble with getting no-boil noodles to cook in the oven, try this tip (I forget where I read it): Soak the noodles in hot water for 5 minutes before layering them; that way they get a head start in getting re-hydrated and cooked.

Here is the last but one layer- vegetables:
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And the last layer- sauce and cheese
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4. Cover dish with foil. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes (uncovered for the last 10 minutes) or until the noodles are cooked through, the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browning.
5. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Verdict: This was one delicious dinner! This is a savory dish, of course, but the combination of roasted onions, butternut squash and nutmeg gave it a remarkable sweetness- which, together with the dairy richness made it the perfect indulgence for a bitterly cold night.

This hearty lasagna is my entry to the Fresh Produce event hosted by Marta of An Italian in the US. The theme this month is Squash, which is one family of vegetables that are generally quite inexpensive and can be enjoyed in both summer and winter.

Butternut squash is so versatile; I have my eye on many delicious b'nut-squash recipes like butternut squash and brown rice risotto, butternut squash soup, salad and mac and cheese (!).

Want another helping of lasagna? Here you go:
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna from Two Fat Als
Pesto Mushroom Lasagna from Blog Appetit
Eggplant Lasagna from Cooking with Amy
Que Sarah Sarah Lasagna from What Smells So Good?
Mexican Lasagna from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

*** *** ***

To all those who enjoying keeping up with new posts in the vast world of Indian food blogs, here is good news: Sailu of the gorgeous blog Sailu's Kitchen has collaborated with a friend to bring us a brand new food blog aggregator called Taste Of India. Click through to see the latest posts among food blogs with an Indian slant. I have placed a link to it under the "Favorite Reads" tab on the right side-bar.

Have a great week ahead!

49 comments:

  1. I am a huge fan of no-boil lasagna noodles. As long as there is enough moisture in your dish (from sauce and cheese), these noodles are fantastic. I'm definitely going to try this squash recipe -- it looks delicious.

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  2. I adore new variations on the traditional lasagna with tomato sauce, and with no-boil noodles, even better! I've done pumpkin, and recently came across a version for crab lasagna on another blog. The roasted squash and nutmeg here is enough to make me swoon!

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  3. This sounds just fantastic. I am nuts about butternut squash, and of course who doesn't like cheesy sauce? I'm in complete agreement about using the "no-boil" method too! Once I heard about that I never did it the other way again!

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  4. Dear Nupur, I never tried to make Lasagna, the reason being the probability of it turning out bad is high.. Love these no cook Lasagna sheets and the dish looks amazing. Thanks for the info.

    ~ Siri

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  5. Lovely lasagna, Nupur! This sounds really good, no need to boil the noodles! And i agree, that makes it super easy to make lasagna during weeknights :). Hey, and like you, i enjoy the chunky pieces of veegtables with lasagna :).

    Thanks for sharing the "Taste of India".

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  6. Looks delicious! I never had squash lasagna, and this post just makes me feel like trying!! Thanks a lot for taking part to the event.

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  7. Your blog simply rocks Nupur. It's been like ages since I dropped by and I have missed soooo much. I went crazy bookmarking. Ani khara sangoo kaa, it's bedtime now but after seeing all your pics I feel like going down and eating something. I tried using no boil sheets once but they did not cook, but now I know why. Sauce not enough and not thin enough. I am going to try again. Thank you very much for all these gorgeous posts

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  8. Dear God, how in the world do you come up with these lovely ideas? Lasagna, I am too lazy to make it just eat it at the restaurants.
    Thanks for the food aggregator list. It looks awesome.

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  9. Hey Nupur--The lasagna looks gorgeous! I too am a big fan of the no boil noodles and my fav lasagna recipe is the Spinach and artichoke lasagna from here: http://teamsugar.com/group/30207/recipes/722748
    I will be trying out your recipe soon too.
    Ruch.

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  10. I LOVE lasagna! I'm a fan, maybe second after Garfield ;)
    This was the first dish I had tried after I came to the US and I love it even more than ever. I make lasagna often and will definitely try out your new recipe. Thanks for posting my favourite dish.

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  11. Did you know you don't need to pre-cook regular noodles? Just make sure they are covered, and maybe add an extra 1/2c of liquid or so to the sauce.

    This recipe looks delicious! My husband doesn't like tomatoes much, so alternatives like white sauce are much favored.

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  12. That looks fantastic Nupur! Roasted onions and butternut squash together - oh my! I've had very little experience with no-boil lasagna (I think I used it once), but I love the idea of it and had no idea Whole Foods carried it - I'll definitely be looking for it!

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  13. looks great Nupur:) I'm not so sure about squash though:( I like adding pesto to my lasagna:)

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  14. Hi there!

    Delicious! I make a similar lasagne and add rosemary to the sauce. the rosemary lends a wonderful taste (and aroma) to the sweetness of the squash.

    This lasagne is my idea of comfort food..

    -atgc

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  15. Nupur..first off want to thnk you on the note about the new FBD - now Taste of India..i was not even aware of it!! go fig :D..and about the no cook lasagna noodles, you had mentioned to me about it in one of ur comments..and i have been thinking of buying it ever since!! now i know where to look for them..thnks..and the food looks great (as usual!)

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  16. Nupur, Have you tried Whole Food's fresh pasta sheet? I am yet to. Planning to make ravioli. Thanks for the info on Sailu's aggregator. Boy I am happy :)

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  17. lasagne is somethng in my to-do list but first I need a good baking dish and a good oven. It looks so yummy!!

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  18. Lasagna is my husband's favourite and he uses it as a barometer when we eat out at a new restaurant, if they can make a mean lasagna, they're fine!
    I tried the no boil sheets once but apparently the liquid wasnt enough and it just didnt cook.....when I tried to boil the "cook" ones, they fell apart ---sigh. So thats been the end of my experiment at home.
    Your recipe looks delicious though and I just might be tempted to search for a good quality lasagna sheets and try again.

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  19. This is an incredible version for a lasagna! I love pumpkin and have been cooking with the vegetable a lot lately. I now certainly will be trying this one out!

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  20. That looks yummy. Do you think I can use Indian pumpkin instead of the squash? Similar flavours?

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  21. The lasagna looks delicious. I just had lunch but I could find space for that.

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  22. Mythreyee, thanks!

    Lydia, yes, the no-boil noodles make life so much easier. But in so many lasagna recipes, I see a stern warning in the ingredient list- "regular noodles, not the no-boil ones" which made me wonder if there is some stigma attached to using these :D oh well, I'm not about to stop using them in any case.

    TWB, we make the tomato sauce based lasagna quite often too, but I don't know how I feel about the combination of squash and tomato (they don't seem to go together, in my mind) hence the white sauce. It was perfect for the weather we are having :)

    Kalyn, yes, the cheesy sauce can make just about anything taste fantastic :D yes, I have the no-boil noodles in the pantry at all times (and because I use only a few sheets for each lasagna, one box seems to last forever).

    Siri, actually there are so many delicious things that go into lasagna- it will taste good no matter what :) Give it a shot!

    Musical, yup, the chunky vegetables also look more appetizing than a smooth puree IMHO. Being able to make lasagna on busy days is great; because just about any vegetables can be stuffed in there ;)

    Marta, I know- this is a very non-traditional lasagna (although I absolutely love the one with the tomato sauce too!) but it is delicious. Can't wait to see all the delicious creations that show up in your round-up!

    Anupama, what a nice thing to say! You are too sweet :) Yes, do give the no-boil sheets another try. As long as they are immersed in the sauce, they will cook uneventfully.

    Red Chillies, yes, the food aggregator is a wonderful service, first Indira and Mathy worked so hard to bring it to us, and now Sailu is carrying it on.
    Lasagna is not too hard to make at home at all! Give it a try :)

    Ruch, that lasagna sounds delicious. Coincidentally I made spaghetti with a spinach and artichoke sauce tonight for dinner :)

    Namita, LOL @ Garfield! If I eat a few more servings of this stuff, I'm going to start resembling him :D So what's your favorite way of making it?

    Kat, good to know that you can give regular noodles the same treatment? Yes, this sauce is great for those who are not big fans of tomato.

    Namratha, thanks!

    Cathy, yes, the no-boil lasagna sheets is worth keeping around the kitchen. The WF ones are thin and so good. This recipe tastes wonderful...you've got to try it :)

    Mansi, yes, pesto is such a delicious addition to lasagna!

    atgc, hmm...rosemary would be perfect here too! I made it from all my pantry basics- had no fresh herbs on hand.

    Rajitha, re Taste of India, Sailu is great for jumping in and taking over this job...it just started a couple of days ago, probably why you had not heard of it.

    Suganya, yes, I have tried their fresh pasta sheets for wild mushroom lasagna at Thanksgiving (I bought them in WF, but the brand name was not WF). The fresh lasagna sheets are wonderful- very toothsome. But just a little bit too thick, which was fine in lasagna but no idea how it will work for ravioli. The one main reason why I won't use them on a regular basis is- they are quite expensive, and also because fresh pasta is perishable while dried noodles can stay for long periods in the pantry and are more convenient.

    Nags, I hope you get both those things soon :)

    Miri, oh dear, sorry to hear about the two attempts! But if you are up for another try- just add enough pasta sauce (might need to dilute it- which is OK) to soak the dry noodles in the baking dish, and it should work. I just remembered reading somewhere that soaking the no-boil noodles in hot water for a few minutes can help cook them faster later on.

    Meeta, yes, I love looking at all the seasonal winter vegetables on your blog!

    Anita, Absolutely! I think using pumpkin here would be just delicious as well! Yes, b'nut squash has a sweet buttery flavor just like apna bhopla.

    Aparna, thanks :)

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  23. mmm Lasagna looks delicious, this has been on my to make lists for a long time, love squash, so I am all set.

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  24. Hey Nupur,
    Lasagna looks good. Its one of my favorite weekend meal to make.
    Also, thanks for the link to "Taste of India".

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  25. That looks great Nupur and it's been sooo long since i made lasagna... but the no boil noodles are really convenient indeed.

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  26. I like lasgna, but havent had it for the longest time ( I was not sure i'd get a vegetarian version here :( ...) , and I was not confident of making it, but this version is very nice.
    Oh boy!! we have another FBD.. I mean something similar!!! So happy abt that!

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  27. This recipe sounds delicious.I am going to make it.

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  28. No-cook lasagne noodles are the best new thing in years. It's all I've used for a few now, and Ilove them. I've made 4 or 5 lasagnes already this winter. Love the Squash and Onion. All my Butternut is in bags in the freezer... but, next fall!

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  29. slurp!!!!! lovely lasgna....its been along time since i had them....love ur version... sounds grt

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  30. d-lish!
    lasagna is a big fav at my home :) for the longest time i did not use the no-boil sheets for the fear that they will be too chewy. Finally i tried them and they turn out beautifully every single time :)

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  31. ohh! one more thing, why no garlic, i know u like it ;)

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  32. Just 4-5 T of cheese? Thats very tempting Nupur. All the lasgnas I saw had ricotta cheese in them and I don't like that cheese so much :(. So I tried lasagna only once with loads of veggies. I will give this recipe a try(I still have some sheets left). Thanks a lot

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  33. Wow I'm way late Nupur - had to scroll through a ton of comments to get to the bottom! :-)
    First off -yummy lookign lasagna - its been ages since i made any!And this one sounds unique! Will have to give it a shot soon. Never tried the no cook lasagna- thats another to do!
    And yipee to Taste of India! will go check it out!

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  34. havent seen those no boil sheets , lasagna looks deleciousssss

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  35. Indosungod, me too: love both lasagna and squash :) thanks for stopping by!

    Easycrafts, thanks!

    Anjali, yes, it is considered a "special" dish in our home too!

    Laavanya, with the no-boil noodles, my lasagna-making is suddenly more frequent :D

    Manasi, it is quite common to find vegetarian lasagnas in Italian restaurants here...it is easy to "vegetarianize" and they often have it as the one vegetarian choice on the menu. But home-made is so easy too :)

    Anon., let me know if it works for you!

    Katiez, I agree :) I am often very skeptical about new food "products" that show up on store shelves- but this one I like. Winter and lasagna seem to be made for each other :)

    Remya, thanks!

    Richa, yeah, to me, they taste no different from regular lasagna noodles (at least the brand I use)...and save so much in terms of mess and fuss. The garlic (LOL) well, these days, I am trying to use fewer ingredients in dishes and moving away from the "put in everything I've got" mode. I actually like the "purer" taste of this lasagna where the flavors of onion and squash and white sauce are not masked too much. But one could certainly add garlic :D

    Shilpa, I have a complicated relationship with cheese: I enjoy it but only in small quantities where the flavor is not too strong! Hence the lower amount of cheese- it was a strong aged parmesan and that tiny amount was quite enough to gently flavor the whole dish. Not to mention the saving of calories! I also am not a fan of ricotta cheese at all. I often make lasagna with tomato sauce, veggies (like spinach and mushrooms) and mozzarella cheese, which works beautifully as well.

    Latha, yup, it is "unique" in that I made it up ;) whether it is good or not, you will have to taste it and decide. Yippee to Taste of India indeed :)

    Sagari, thank you!

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  36. Awesome one nupur !!!!I have never made them at home ...Will surely give it a try ....Yummy

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  37. Hi Nupur,
    What a lovely recipe, I had been wanting to make Lasagna for a while now.. There is nothing stopping me from doing that now, specially because you have posted a vegetarian version of it.
    Thanks for the Braun hand blender tip, I bought it and it has been working out just great!!
    Meghana

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  38. Leave it to you Nupur, to make butternut squash look that good! No-boil lasagna sheets are a wonderful find, and your finished dish looks scrumptious :)

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  39. Nice one Nupur.. a must try. First time hearing no boil noodles.. interesting to learn a new item! Superb Lasagna!
    Sent u an e-mail - did u get it?

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  40. Nupur,
    No-boil lasagna noodles are such a blessing - I still shudder at memories of struggling with sticky, tearing sheets of the regular variety, which made me avoid making lasagna. Your recipe has an unusual combination of ingredients, and looks delicious as usual.
    Kamini

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  41. Delectable! Seasonal veggies are the way to go :) I tried Winter squash soup the other day. A complete weeknight success!

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  42. I like the cutlery, I have been eyeing a set just like that :)

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  43. I love the no-boil lasagna too. What an invention! I haven't made lasagna in a long time. This is a great idea with the butternut squash and Bechamel sauce. And I think I already have everything to make it! I just printed the recipe. Thanks! ; )

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  44. hi Nupur,

    this is pure comfort....it looks like the kind of dish that would stick to my ribs in this cold season!
    have you tried using fresh lasagna sheets??

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  45. Hi Nupur, It had been a while since I dropped by your website, and am so glad I did. Just last week I bought the no-boil lasagna sheets from Trader Joe's and was contemplating on what to put in it...now I know what exactly I'm doing with it. Thanks for the recipe.

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