Monday, April 4, 2011

Recipe Review: Butternut Squash Lasagna

I love butternut squash, but you can only have so much of it roasted or made into soup.  So my search led me to a recipe for butternut squash lasagna.  I don’t tend to make lasagna very often for two reasons.  Firstly it’s somewhat time-consuming, and secondly, it doesn’t tend to be exactly ‘lite.’ 

So this vegetarian version from Cooking Light Magazine appealed to me as it was definitely lighter than the traditional, but possibly just as time-consuming!  On the plus side, this recipe makes two 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pans – one for now and one to freeze for later.    

There are basically five components to the recipe:

  • Butternut squash - the recipe says to dice and microwave, but I roasted it in the oven as the browning or caramelization provides more flavor.  Just toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a cookie sheet.  Roast for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees F, or until tender and starting to brown.  The time will vary according to the size of your squash.  The recipe doesn’t say what size to dice them, so it’s up to you.  I cut mine fairly small – probably about ½”.

  • Spinach – fresh spinach is sautéed with onions until it wilts.  The recipe calls for 10 cups so I bought one of those big boxes of baby spinach from Costco.  I decided this is actually easier than using the frozen spinach, and so much tastier.  The frozen has to be thawed, squeezed out, etc.  The baby spinach can just be thrown in the pan and that’s it.
  • Cheese mixture.  This consists of two types of ricotta – part-skim and fat free – eggs, fresh parsley, provolone cheese, salt and pepper.  I added some freshly grated nutmeg also – a classic Italian addition for spinach and ricotta. 

  • Lasagna noodles – buy the kind that don’t require pre-cooking. 
  • Marinara sauce – this is made from scratch – well not actually from scratch.  Fresh herbs are added to cans of crushed tomatoes.  This can be done a day or two ahead.  Use store-bought marinara if you prefer and to save time.  Look for the kind that says ‘fire-roasted’ to get that nice smoky flavor.

The assembly is pretty straight forward – just make sure you have all the components ready to go.  The recipe called for two 8 x 8 pans, but I used two 9 x 9.  I also used more lasagna noodles than the recipe stated – not sure whether this was because of the size of pan or the size of the noodles.  Mine were from Trader Joe’s and I used about 20 instead of 12.  One of the pans went in the oven for dinner, and the other is in the freezer uncooked. 

Make sure you include the cooking instructions with the one in the freezer.  That way you won’t be scrambling around trying to remember where to find the recipe.  Write the thawing and cooking instructions on a piece of paper and insert between layers of plastic wrap.  Include where to find the recipe in case you really like it and want to make it again!

I have to say the lasagna was delicious and very figure-friendly.  One serving is a sixth of the recipe (a hearty portion) and only has 254 calories, 8.5 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber.  Only 7 points for those of you doing WeightWatchers.  Very good heated up as leftovers the next day also.

I give this 4 thumbs up (out of 5), and would definitely make it again.

Here’s the link to the recipe:
Butternut Squash Lasagna

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