It is my firmly held belief that butternut squash is one of the most enjoyable ingredients available in the autumn – it is simply delightful. Its name seems almost too perfect; when cooked to perfection it has a buttery quality and a sweet, nutty flavour. Moreover, its colour is so vibrant and so quintessentially autumnal that it really couldn’t belong to any other season. Happily, beyond these qualities it also works very well in many of the different types of food eaten at this time of year – soups, casseroles and rustic bakes. I already have so many recipes that make use of this fruit; it’s almost embarrassing that I should upload another! For a few more ideas, please see these delightfully frugal posts: butternut squash and sage risotto and butternut squash and leek soup
The one way to beat quantity is with quality and this is my best butternut squash recipe to date. When you combine the roasted squash with sweet roasted onions, garlicky spinach and a subtly infused béchamel sauce, it’s difficult not to come out on top! In terms of flavour, I highly recommend making your own sheets of lasagne. If you need help with this, follow the detailed instructions here. However, instead of making tagliatelle, cut each sheet to the required size.
Quite a few of you have been asking about my lighting situation and a proper update will soon be had by all. However, I’ll shed a little light on my current solution – it involves my girlfriend, Katherine, standing by with white pillows which are used to reflect light back onto my food… poor girl. Yet more evidence that slavery isn’t quite dead in Britain.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
Serves 4-6 with side salad
• 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
• 1 onion, roughly chopped
• 600ml semi-skimmed milk
• 3 bay leaves
• 5-6 peppercorns
• A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• 140g fresh spinach
• 1 garlic cloves, mashed
• A little olive oil
• 25g butter
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• 6-7 sheets of fresh lasagne, dry will do
• 50g very mature cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and roast the squash and onion with a little oil, salt and pepper until just brown and soft. Infuse your milk with the bay leaves, peppercorns and nutmeg by heating them very gently – do not allow to boil. Once the milk has infused (30 mins – 1 hour) strain it and set aside.
2. Melt some butter in a pan and whisk in the flour, cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, season and allow to thicken. At the same time wilt the spinach in some oil along with the garlic. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from your spinach. Start layering your lasagane – the first layer should be all of the squash. Top this with a layer of pasta, then tip on 1/3 of the sauce followed by all of the spinach.
3. Cover this with another layer of pasta, followed by the rest of the sauce. Top with cheese, a sprinkling of olive oil and a little grated cheese. Add a twist of black pepper and cook for 30-40 minutes until brown. Serve with a side salad.
Cost: Since this contains only a little cheese and absolutely no meat, the price will be far lower than a traditional lasagne. Indeed, the entire meal, which can feed up to six people, should set one back no more than £3!