Recipes that require inattention are perfect for the absent-minded cook (me). I tried a vegetarian lasagna recipe using two techniques that require just leaving something for a while to cook properly. The first is roasted butternut squash. The second is browned butter. I have to confess that I had to play with the amount of water I added during assembly and baking because of the no-boil lasagna noodles. If you pre-boil your noodles or use fresh noodles, the extra additions of the water are probably not necessary. Let me know what you find!
1 butternut squash
extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
8 shitake mushrooms
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 cups milk
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 pound no boil lasagna noodles
3/4 pound shredded mozzarella
Step 1Peel and dice the squash into 1/2 in cubes. Toss with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt.
Step 2Roast squash cubes at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, opening the oven and tossing them about with a large spatula once or twice. This part is nice, because I can leave the veggies in the oven to get nicely colored and carmelized on the edges and corners with minimal attention. The roasting really concentrates the flavors and gives the squash a nice bite. Set this aside.
Step 3Separately, saute onions and mushrooms with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt, and pepper until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms slightly browned. Set this aside too.
Step 4Melt and brown butter. This does takes a few minutes of attention to make sure it doesn't become overly burned. Remove from heat and let cool a couple of minutes.
Step 5Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and let stir to develop some garlicky aroma.
Step 6Put back onto a burner with medium heat. Add 4 Tbsp of flour and use a wire whisk to quickly move the mixture around to cook the flour for 5 minutes or so.
Step 7Add about 3 cups of milk very slowly with lots of whisking. Add a bay leaf.
Step 8Simmer for about 5-10 minutes until it thickens up. Add more milk or some chicken stock if it is getting too thick.
Step 9Add some salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. The bechamel is done. Be sure to remove that bay leaf. Set the bechamel aside.
Step 10Mix ricotta with about 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and about 1/2 cup of water to loosen it up. Don't skimp on the salt in this step otherwise the final product will feel bland. You can feel free to add some parsley, basil, or sage to this as well. Set aside.
Step 11Assembly into a 9x13in square pan.
Step 12Start with a few spoonfuls of Bechamel. Add about 1/4 cup of water to help soften no-boil noodles.
Step 13Add a layer of noodles.
Step 14Add half of mushroom mix and half of roasted butternut squash.
Step 15layer with 1/3 of bechamel.
Step 16layer with 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese.
Step 17Add another noodle layer
Step 18add ricotta mixture and rest of mushrooms and squash. Overly this with some bechamel and add another 1/4 cup of water for the no-boil noodles.
Step 19add another noodle layer
Step 20add rest of bechamel and mozzarella
Step 21sprinkle top with additional parmesan cheese and a generous sprinkling of pinenuts.
Step 22Covered tightly with some foil sprayed some canola oil or SPAM.
Step 23Into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Step 24Take off the foil. If the noodles are still looking very dry add about 1/2 cup of water over the top.
Step 25Cook another 20 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.