A taste of heaven

A few weeks ago I sat down to catch-up on my favorite food blog, TheKitchenSinkRecipes, and search for a few new dishes to make. I have to admit, I have been in a cooking-rut lately and seemed to have lost the passion I once had for it. I knew some exciting new recipes might be just the trick to get me out of the slump. That is when I found it…

Butternut squash. I am one of the few and far between in the nutrition field who have never eaten butternut squash before. When I was a kid my parents never prepared dishes with winter squash and I can count the number of times I have prepared it in my lifetime on one hand. Something about the dense shell and overall size of the squash tends to be a little daunting to a novice. That challenge was what I needed to feel excited about cooking again. This dish is the most delicious dish I have ever, I repeat, ever made. The subtle sweetness of the squash paired with the spice of the spinach and topped with a light cream sauce makes every bite unexplainably delicious. I guarantee this dish is worth the somewhat lengthy prep time.

Spinach & Butternut Squash Lasagna
Cooking Light (found on TheKitchenSinkRecipes.com with slight modifications)
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup vidalia onion, diced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 18 ounces of fresh spinach
  • 9 cooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup part-skim mozerella cheese

Directions

  1. Cook onion in 1 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt for 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat.
  2. Create a white sauce by mixing  1/4 cup of milk with the 1/4 of flour in a glass measuring cup and whisk well with a wire whisk. Add the reamining milk and whisk well. Slowly add the mixture to the pan until the mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Cover surface of milk mixture with plastic wrap; set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°.
  4. Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper,  and sage. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
  5. While cooking, combine remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add spinach, 1 bag at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.
  6. Mix the cheese together in a bowl. Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with spinach mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, 1/2 cup cheese. Arrange 3 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Arrange remaining 3 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
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