Monday, November 5, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sausage, Mushrooms and Broccoli Rabe

I'm something of a lasagna freak. I love trying new things with it — Mexican lasagna with tomatoes, black beans, and cheddar; artichoke lasagna with bĂ©chamel; classic bolognese lasagna — you name it.

This was probably the best we've ever made.

The sauce is a silky butternut squash puree. The homemade lasagna noodles are layered with spicy Italian chicken sausage, sauteed shiitake mushrooms, broccoli rabe and ricotta cheese.

This is a very complex recipe — something for lazy Sundays or Saturday. Really, though, nothing in the world is better to me than spending my days off investing in an hours-long meal that will cook in the oven for an hour or so. No kidding.

Take the time to make this for a special occasion. You will not be disappointed.

For the butternut squash sauce:
1 medium butternut squash
1-1.5 cups chicken broth
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil

For the sausage & mushroom filling:
1 lb spicy Italian chicken sausage
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp each: bacon fat, butter, olive oil
~1 lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch thyme
Pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch salt & pepper
Optional but strongly encouraged: 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, 1.5 cups chicken broth

For the cheese mixture:
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
1 container whole-milk ricotta cheese
Pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch salt

Homemade pasta sheets (or you can buy them - about a pound. We made the whole wheat version.)

Pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation (Written by Justin)

1. Chop half of a yellow onion and cook on medium heat in a combo of bacon fat, butter, and olive oil (or just one of the above). Add about a pound of sliced shiitake mushrooms, a couple cloves of chopped garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Season well with salt and pepper and cook for another 7-8 mins. 

2. This next part is optional, but makes a BIG difference: we took about a cup of dried shiitake and rehydrated them in hot chicken stock and let them sit in it for about 20 mins then blend until smooth. Add this mixture to the mushrooms and cook until the liquid is almost completely reduced; it should look like gravy.

3. SautĂ© a pound of spicy italian chicken sausage or whatever ever ground meat and add it the mushroom sauce.

4. Next, blanch chopped broccoli rabe in salted boiling water for about 10 mins. Drain, rinse under cold water and squeeze out all the extra water. Add this to ricotta cheese. Add salt and crushed red pepper.

5. For the butternut squash sauce, cut a squash in half longitudinally, douse with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast skin-side up for about 45 mins at 375 degrees. Once cooled, blend the squash with chicken stock and garlic oil until smooth.

6. Make the pasta (or buy some); if the pasta is fresh, blanch it for 2 minutes in boiling water. If dried, cook them until they're al-dente. 

7. Time to assemble: Add a layer of butternut squash sauce to the bottom of the pan. Layer on the pasta.  Add the ricotta-broccoli rabe mixture, then the sausage-mushroom mixture, then a layer of Pecorino Romano cheese. Then add another layer of squash sauce, pasta, ricotta, mushroom-sausage sauce, 
Pecorino. Repeat until you run out of ingredients.

8. Bake at 375 for about an hour. Let it rest for 10 minutes (if you can wait that long!)


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