Tim's parents got me Mollie Katzen's new cookbook for Christmas, and we've been enjoying the recipes from it ever since! As with her previous cookbooks, the focus is on vegetables, and the preparations are always unique and delicious. This vegetarian lasagna is no different -- it's got layers of bold, delicious flavors that all magically meld together with each bite. The greens are tender and mixed with slightly toothsome red onions that have been softened just enough to sweeten them up. The greens are layered with balsamic-drizzled winter squash -- I used banana squash, but any hard winter squash should work here. Alongside the veggies are pasta sheets and a creamy, garlicky mixture of ricotta and mozzarella. Total heaven! I guarantee you will not miss the meat.
This does have quite a few steps, and although none of them is difficult, I recommend either saving this for a weekend or preparing some of the elements ahead of time. The squash layer and the greens layer can both be prepped ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use, and then you just have to cook the noodles, stir together the cheeses, and layer everything together on the night you want to eat the lasagna. Leftovers kept well, so this is also a nice option to take for lunch.
Vegetarian Lasagna with Squash, Chard, and Red Onions (adapted from Mollie Katzen's Heart of the Plate)
2 to 2-1/2 pounds banana squash or butternut squash
Salt and pepper
3 T balsamic vinegar, divided
2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves removed from stems and chopped
Lasagna noodles to create 2 layers in your pan (preferably flat noodles, about 1/2 pound)
1 pound whole milk, fresh ricotta
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 tsp minced garlic
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a large sheet pan with foil.
2. Prepare the squash. If working with chunks of banana squash, simply cut off the peel. For butternut squash, halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, and then cut off the peel. Then slice the squash into 1/2-inch thick slices. Grease the foil-lined pan with olive oil, and then arrange the squash in a single layer (use another pan if necessary). Season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is tender and nicely browned. If the bottoms are getting browned too quickly, you can flip the squash part of the way through baking (I didn't find this necessary). Sprinkle the squash with 1 T of the balsamic vinegar, and set aside. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.
3. Prepare the onions and chard. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add a good drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring, until nicely softened, 5-6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 T balsamic vinegar, along with the chard and another sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring for about a minute, until the chard is just starting to wilt. Remove from the heat.
4. Cook the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a little olive oil. Add the lasagna noodles, stirring to keep them from sticking as much as possible. Cook for just 4 minutes -- they won't be cooked all the way through. Drain and rinse under cold water, separating any noodles that have stuck together.
5. Prepare the cheese layer. In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, and 2 T olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix again, making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.
6. Build the lasagna. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with oil. Add a layer of noodles. Top with half of the cheese mixture, half the squash, and then half of the onion-chard mixture. Sprinkle with about 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers (noodles, cheese mixture, squash, onion-chard mixture, and Parmesan).
7. Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, and then cover with foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the lasagna is heated through. Let sit for 5-10 minutes out of the oven before slicing and serving.