Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 1 (2½-pound) butternut squash, quartered, seeds and membranes removed
- ¼ cup water
- 2 pounds spinach, stemmed Parmesan Béchamel Sauce
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1½ cups half-and-half
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 large eggs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound Spinach Pasta Dough (page 278), cut into lasagna noodles, or 1 (10-ounce) box dried spinach noodles
- Coarse salt
- Freshly grated nutmeg, for dusting
- 2 cups (8 ounces) coarsely shredded Fontina cheese, preferably fontina Val d’Aosta
- 1 cup (5 ounces) cut-up or crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Procedures:This all-vegetable spinach-noodle lasagna, with its layers of butternut squash, ricotta cheese, cooked spinach, Gorgonzola, and cheese-rich béchamel, is an ideal main course for a fall or winter dinner party. If you are pressed for time, you can substitute storebought spinach noodles.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the squash quarters, cut side down, in a large baking dish and add the water to the dish. Roast the squash for 30 minutes, or until firm but tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool, peel away the skin with a paring knife, and cut each quarter crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
Rinse the spinach in a bowl of cold water and drain in a colander. Transfer to a 6-quart Dutch oven, place over medium-high heat, cover, and cook, stirring once, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and tender. Transfer to a colander and press with the back of a spoon to extract the water, or place the spinach in a potato ricer to press out the excess water. Transfer the spinach to a clean dish towel, fold the towel over the spinach, and press to blot out more moisture. Coarsely chop the spinach and set aside. You should have 1½ to 2 cups.
Make the béchamel sauce: In a 3-quart saucepan or saucier, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour, stir with a flat whisk until the mixture is smooth, and then continue to cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Gradually add the milk and half-and-half while whisking constantly until smooth. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking gently, for 5 minutes, or until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, and nutmeg.
In a medium bowl, combine the cooked spinach and ½ cup of the béchamel sauce and set aside.
n a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, eggs, and a generous grinding of pepper. Stir with a sauce whisk until well blended. Set aside.
Place the pasta insert in an 8-quart stockpot or pasta cooking pot and fill the pot three-fourths full with water. If not using the pasta insert, fill an 8-quart pot three-fourths full with water. Bring the water to a boil. Place a large, deep bowl (it must be large enough to accommodate the pasta insert, if using) next to the stove and half fill it with cold water. When the water boils, add 3 tablespoons coarse salt and gradually add the lasagna noodles. Cook the noodles until tender but slightly underdone. Fresh noodles will take about 3 minutes, and dried noodles will take about 8 minutes. If using the pasta cooking insert, carefully lift it from the boiling water, allowing the hot water to drain back into the pot, and then place it in the bowl of cold water. If not using the pasta insert, scoop the noodles with the mesh skimmer or slotted spoon from the boiling water and place them in the cold water. When the noodles are cool, lift them from the water and spread in a single layer on kitchen towels to blot dry.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9½-by- 14-inch baking dish. Add a ladleful of the béchamel to the prepared dish, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Arrange 3 noodles side by side, or slightly overlapping if they are wide, on the bottom of the dish. Spoon about half of the ricotta mixture on top and spread evenly. Top with half of the squash slices, arranging them in a single layer. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper, dust with nutmeg, and scatter ½ cup of the Fontina evenly over the top. Arrange 3 more noodles on top. Add the spinach mixture by well-spaced spoonfuls and then spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the Gorgonzola evenly over the spinach layer. Arrange 3 more noodles on top. Spoon the remaining ricotta mixture on top and spread in an even layer. Top with the remaining squash slices in a single layer. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper, dust with nutmeg, and scatter ½ cup of Fontina over the top. Arrange the remaining 3 noodles on top. Pour the remaining béchamel sauce evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining 1 cup of Fontina cheese.
Bake for 55 minutes, or until the top is browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares to serve.