Many apologies for the severe lack of posts, but weirdly enough, I’ve been traveling an extraordinary amount lately. I find this turn of events quite strange because on the job description of a grad student, travel is usually at the bottom of the list (unless you’re in anthropology and work for someone Indiana Jones-esque, of course). I left in early October for two weeks in Hong Kong (3 days of conference, then 1.5 weeks of touristy fun with Nathan interrupted by 1 day of laying in bed with stomach flu – bleh!). Then, while still recovering from jetlag, I had to spend a weekend at Asilomar for my graduate program’s retreat. Now, I’m off again to Boston for another meeting next week. Whew!

It seems that while I was gone, summer has officially left us and we’re well into the rainy season here in SF. As much as I will miss the bounty of heirloom tomatoes, I’m excited for the arrival of winter squashes, which have already started appearing in our CSA box. I have grand plans to go totally soup-crazy soon enough, but until I have time to fill the freezer with tub after tub of chicken/vegetable stock, I have to think of other fun things to do with squashes.

So how about a simple butternut squash lasagna, to start?

(Recipe is basically a combination of this one by Giada de Laurentiis and this one by Michael Chiarello)

1 medium butternut squash
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3.5 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Peel squash with a vegetable peeler and split in half. Scoop out the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in a 400F oven until soft and slightly browned, stirring once or twice. Let cool slightly and mash with a fork.

To make the filling, combine squash mash with ricotta, eggs, 1 tsp salt, and a few pinches of black pepper. Set aside.

Make the bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, making sure to break up any lumps, and gently bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

(Serves about 6-8)

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