Thursday, October 25, 2012

lasagna meets autumn

ok, so in truth i don't eat a  lot of pasta, or dairy, but this one was so good even i ate a bit. i was making lasagna for clients this morning, and was inspired to try out my hand with an autumnal themed version of the dish. what inspired me you might ask? well, in particular it was the mounds of gorgeous butternut squash that have migrated to my kitchen courtesy of my dear farmer friends at  Adamah at Isabellea Freedman. as an aside, for those of you not familiar with adamah, check them out, they are doing amazing things with organic vegetables, intentional community, and growth - in all its forms and expressions. but i digress.... there is something uniquely satisfying about the aroma of sage, walnuts, squash, caramelized onions, and good cheese bubbling away and suffusing your home on a crisp fall day. and by your home, i mean my home. but if you make this lasagna then maybe your home too :)

-1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles (or whatever type you like)
cook noodles according to instructions, or, you can do what i do, which is place them in really hot but not boiling water off the flame, and let sit for a few minutes, it makes them pliable enough to use easily and yet they dont stick together

-1 small package ricotta, about 15 oz, i buy mine, but if you want to make your own then you are awesome, same thing goes for those of you who make your own lasagna noodles, also, next time invite me over, few things are as good as fresh pasta and fresh ricotta

1-2 ounces of grated/shaved parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese

8 ounces of grated mozzarella

1 small or 1/2 of a large butternut, or other orange fall squash
-cut squash into quarters, remove seeds, place on a greased baking dish, roast at 350 till easily pierced with fork, about 45 minutes, peel and slice

bechamel sauce
-3 tablespoons butter
-3 tablespoons flour
-3 cups whole milk
-salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
melt butter, mix in flour with a whisk, heat milk til scalding, pour into butter/flour mixture and whisk til smooth, cook over low flame for a few minutes til it reaches desired consistency, add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. many thanks to jacques pepin and his amazing book Complete Techniques for the advice on a classic bechamel, even if i didnt follow it exactly, also many thanks to my sister hodayah for gifting me with said book

sage walnut pesto
-2 bunches sage
-1 bunch fresh oregano
-5 cloves garlic
-1 large handful walnuts
-olive oil
-salt to taste
add walnuts, herbs, and garlic to blender, start juzzing, drizzling in olive oil til you get your desired consistency, finish with a bit of good sea salt

1/2 cup of caramelized onions
so lots of recipes claim you can make caramelized onions in 15 minutes, not true. it takes closer to 45, but it is totally worth it. i usually make a big batch, whatever will fit into my largest frying pan, every week or two, and then have them on hand for use in everything tasty. to make: peel onion, cut in half, slice thinly, heat pan, add oil, add onions, and sautee away over really low heat til light brown and delicious looking

ok, so once you have all your ingredients made, which really is less work then it seems from the above, you assemble just like you would a regular lasagna. spray the bottom of the pan with a bit of oil, put some sauce, noddles, sauce, butternut, onions, dollops of pesto, dollops of ricotta, sprinkle with both cheese, and repeat and repeat til the pan is full. bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes depending on depth and size of the pan you used. serves 9 big geshmake slices or 12 smaller ones if you are having lots of side dishes.

enjoy for dinner with someone you love, and then curl up on the couch with a nice white wine or steaming mug of tea, and be present in the moment of transitions, as one season flows into the next, the riot of colors on the trees outside your window, the leaves fluttering to the ground.....

happy eating!