Hello hello hello!
Today we’re also trying not to eat all of the Halloween candy. Late October: better known as the days when will power is non-existent. Somebody please duct tape my mouth shut. And please use the pretty leopard print duct tape I saw at Target the other day. That is seriously a thing.
Today we’re trying to decide why we spent $18 on a deodorant. Like, one bottle of deodorant. I really don’t know. I mean, why did we do that? We can discuss at a later date. Maybe.
Today we need to eat a big plate a coziness. Coziness is delicious.
Here’s the deal: I have been testing this recipe for weeks. I have wanted to make it FOR EV ER and that is no exaggeration. (Wait, yes it is.) The reason I love butternut squash lasagna so much is because it’s meatless and well, just utterly delicious. With the noodles and the cheese and the spice and if you’re a glutton – the brown butter – it can practically taste like dessert. And adding meat to my accidental-on purpose dessert dinner? No thanks.
But. The thing is… if you don’t add some texture to this dish, you may as well just eat a skillet full of mashed squash. Oh, with some noodles added in. And now that I’m thinking about it, it’s not that wild of an idea because hello – we have pierogi casserole and it’s fantastic – but it just wasn’t what I was going for. I attempted to keep the squash cubed and have it masquerade as some sort of texture here, but it so didn’t work out. It wasn’t soft enough, it was too mushy, it was a mess… it just didn’t work. It didn’t stay beautifully cubed and I was annoyed. So chicken it was. Ground chicken to be exact. That was just my preference. I actually think that a spicy sausage may be the best flavor combo, but fennel seeds be damned – I will not touch you. If you reeeeeeally want to stick to a meatless dish here, you could add some sort of crispy tofu or tempeh and go to town. Or maybe you’ll do something totally cool for texture. Something I don’t even know about.
While the directions seem a bit lengthy, this dish is pretty simple to make and when made more than once, gets easier and easier. It can be made in about an hour and is so very rustic, so thick and hearty and just… autumnish. Soul warming, if you will. Trendy comfort food with a little twist. It should come as no surprise that it’s my most favorite thing in the universe. At least for the next five minutes.
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into thirds
4 cups cubed (1-inch) butternut squash
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or veggie stock
1 sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped sage
1 pound ground chicken breast
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups low-fat milk
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
fresh sage leaves for topping
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add in squash with 1/4 teaspoon salt, the pepper and the nutmeg. Stir to coat well and add in 1/3 cup stock. Cover and cook until softened, about 10-12 minutes. Once soft, remove squash with a large spoon (and any extra stock, though most of it will cook away) and place in a bowl. Mash well with a potato mashed or fork.
At this time, prepare the water for the pasta and boil according to directions, shaving a minute or 2 off the time since you will cook the pasta more in the oven. While water is boil/pasta is cooking, continue with the rest of the recipe.
With the skillet still hot, add in the other tablespoon of olive oil, then toss in onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Still well to coat, cooking for 2-3 minutes until slightly soft, then add in ground chicken with remaining salt to season. Break apart the chicken using a wooden spoon, continuing to do so as it cooks so it is in small bits. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Once cooked, remove chicken and onions (if a few remain it's fine) and place in a smaller bowl.
With the skillet still hot, add in butter and once it sizzles, whisk in flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden and nutty, then add in milk, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and one it begins to thicken and bubble on the sides, whisk in mascarpone and parmesan with a pinch of nutmeg, turning the heat down to low. At this time, add the mashed butternut squash back into the milk mixture and whisk to combine. It will probably be very, very thick so add in additional stock, beginning with 1/4 cup, stirring until it is just a bit thinner. Note: it will still be pretty thick! Use your judgement and add a little more if needed. You can also taste the "sauce" here and season more if desired.
Add in the chicken/onion mixture and slowly add the lasagna noodles, strategically placing them if needed. I took a few seconds and pushed mine around/separated them just to spread them throughout the skillet. Top with sliced mozzarella, panko and sage leaves. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is golden. Serve immediately. This reheats fairly well, but you must add some liquid and do some stirring as you go!
It’s seriously a thing too.