People always want to hear the bad news first, right?
Here it is: homemade lasagna is an awful lot of work. Pasta to mix, roll, and cook, sauces and fillings to prep, cheese to grate. Then comes assembling the whole concoction and don’t forget cleaning up your disaster of a kitchen.
The good news: totally worth it! And even better, you can prep everything in advance so the day you actually eat the lasagna, your kitchen will be tidy again, your stress level low, and you’ll be able to just get lost in all the cheesy, silky layers of straight-up comfort.
Alright, if this is going to take a while, we’d better get a move on. I’m taking a different route than I normally would. I’ll call it the Winter Vegetarian: puréed Buttercup squash, roasted radicchio, and slightly stinky Fontina, bound with a bit of béchamel. Turn on the oven and start your fillings.
Roast until the squash is tender and the radicchio is shriveled and intense.
Purée and season the squash. Don’t think about baby food. Don’t…
Good, we’re making progress. Now let’s put together a quick béchamel.
Onto the pasta. Flour, eggs, water, oil. Mix, knead, rest, roll.
Phew…getting closer. Cook and drain the lasagne noodles and then we’ll put it all together.
Unite! Squash purée, roasted radicchio, béchamel, Fontina, pasta sheets, buttered pans.
Layer up your ingredients: pasta, béchamel, radicchio, cheese, squash, repeat. Spread the top layer with a coat of béchamel and a sprinkle of cheese. The hard part is over.
Bake or deliver and then put your feet up, for goodness’ sake.
- FOR THE SQUASH & RADICCHIO
- 1 3# Winter Squash, seeded and quartered (I used Buttercup; Butternut or Kabocha would work, as well)
- 2 medium heads Radicchio, cut in ½ inch strips
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ tsp. Red Pepper
- ¼ tsp. Cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp. Nutmeg, freshly grated
- Salt & Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
- FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
- 3 c. Milk, preferably whole
- 3 Tbsp. Butter
- 3 Tbsp. Flour
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ⅛ tsp. Nutmeg, freshly grated
- Salt & Black Pepper
- 1 c. Grated Parmesan
- FOR THE PASTA
- 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Eggs
- ¼ c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. Water
- FOR ASSEMBLING THE LASAGNA
- Butter, for preparing the baking dish(es)
- ½ # Fontina Cheese, grated (I think smoked mozzarella would be really good...)
- Preheat oven to 400°. Place quartered squash, skin-side down, on a baking sheet and rub lightly with 1 tsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until the flesh is tender, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and puree in a food processor until very smooth. Add 1-2 Tbsp. of water, if needed to achieve desired consistency and season with the red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, on another baking sheet, toss radicchio with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast 10-12 minutes, until slightly caramelized. Allow to cool and set aside.
- To make the béchamel, heat milk in medium saucepan with bay leaf, nutmeg, salt, and pepper until hot but not boiling. In another sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth and slightly darkened, 2-3 minutes. Slowly pour in hot milk, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until mixture thickens, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, remove bay leaf (you can strain the sauce at this point if it is a little lumpy), and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.
- To make the pasta, beat together the eggs, oil, and water. Sift the flour into a large bowl or on a clean countertop and make a well in the center. Add the wet ingredients to the well and swiftly incorporate, using a fork. When everything has come together to create a scrappy ball, knead with your hands for a couple minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes before rolling.
- To finish preparing the pasta, divide the rested dough in 6 pieces. Roll each piece as thin as you can, either the last or second to last setting on your pasta roller. Working with one sheet at a time, cook in salted boiling water, 30 seconds- 1 minute until the pasta floats to the top. Use a pair of tongs to help untangle the pasta and allow it to cook evenly. After it has cooked, remove and immediately plunge in a large pan of iced water to stop cooking. Drain and place on dry kitchen towel until you are ready to assemble the lasagna.
- To assemble the lasagna, generously butter a 9" by 13" baking pan or 2 smaller baking pans. Lay a base of slightly overlapping pasta sheets that extend over the sides of the pan. Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the pasta, sprinkle with roasted radicchio and cheese, and coat with a layer of squash puree. Cover with another layer of pasta and repeat. For the top layer, fold the overhanging edges in over the top, spread with béchamel and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- To bake the lasagna, preheat oven to 375°. Loosely cover lasagna with foil (do not let it touch the cheese!), poked with a few holes. Bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on whether you made 2 small or 1 large lasagna), until it is warm throughout. Remove the foil, and continue to bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10-15 minutes (this will help it hold together when cutting).