Butternut and sage lasagna
Lasagna with a subtle hint of almond and amaretto.
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Before the squash is ready (no more than an hour before use), heat the stick of butter in a small saucepan until foamy and beginning to brown. It will smell nutty. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Remove from the heat and stir in one sprig (about 4 leaves) of the sage. Leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth into a small bowl. If the butter starts to solidify before use, microwave at half power for a few seconds.Skip to next paragraph
The Runaway Spoon
Perre Magness has studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France has broadened her own culinary skill and palate. The kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.
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Right before the squash is ready, chop the remaining sage leaves (reserve 3 whole leaves for garnish) and set aside. Place the amaretti in a zip top bag and crush roughly. You can do this with your hands, they will pop apart. You should end up with 1 cup of crumbs.
When the squash is ready, remove from the oven and split open carefully. Holding the squash with a tea towel, scoop out the seeds and fiber strings and discard. Scoop the flesh into a bowl. It will come away from the skin easily. Break up with a fork. Add the chopped sage and the mascarpone and mash with the fork until smooth and soft (you can use more mascarpone if needed). You want a soft, almost spreadable consistentcy. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the amaretti crumbs. Set aside.
For the béchamel sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking until smooth and incorporated, about 2 minutes. Do not let it brown. Whisk in the milk and continue cooking until thickened and smooth and the floury taste no longer lingers. Whisk in all but about two tablespoons of the sage browned butter, reserving the rest. Whisk in the nutmeg and a generous seasoning of salt. Set aside.
To assemble the lasagna, pour just enough (about 1 tablespoon) of the browned butter in the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish (mine is about 8" x 11"). Swirl to coat the dish. You want to prevent the noodles from sticking or drying out, but too much will make the bottom greasy. Cover the bottom with a layer of noodles. Spread half of the squash mixture evenly over the noodles. Add another layer of noodles. Sprinkle over three-quarters of the grated fontina. Add a layer of noodles. Spread over the remaining squash mixture. Top with one more layer of noodles. Spread over the béchamel sauce and sprinkle over the remaining fontina. Decorate with a line of sage leaves. Drizzle any remaining brown butter over the top. The lasagna can sit for several hours in the fridge before baking.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes or until hot through and bubbling. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
If you’d like, use the squash filling to make ravioli using packaged wonton wrappers. Boil until the ravioli float, drain and serve with the browned butter (you’ll want to double that recipe).
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