I made this lasagna a few weeks ago on a Saturday night and to be honest not a day has gone by when one of us hasn’t mentioned it. In fact, just a week after the initial creation I had to go to Sainsburys and buy all the ingredients again because we just had to have it for dinner, it wasn’t even an option.
Butternut squash is one of my all time favourite vegetables and I really wanted to make a lasagna based around it, as something a bit different from the usual veggie mince ones we make. I also wanted to incorporate goats cheese as everything goats cheese touches turns to gold. I googled extensively for recipes but couldn’t find any that were exactly what I wanted so I decided to just wing it, lasagna is pretty forgiving when it comes to experimentation!
The only thing I would say is that this lasagna was quite expensive but I did have to buy all the ingredients from scratch as we didn’t have any. As a special treat I think I’m going to write out exactly what I did in case anyone wants to make it, please do because it really is phenomenal!!
So, to make this super duper Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Lasagna you will need:
1 large butternut squash
2 medium sweet potatoes
500g baby leaf spinach (or you could use frozen, just drain it to within an inch of it’s life)
lasagna sheets (dry or fresh)
grated cheddar cheese
white lasagna sauce (you should probably make it but I was already dreading the butternut squash chopping and so lazily bought a Dolmio jar)
garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper
So! With all your ingredients lovingly lined up on the counter (or not if you’re not quite as sad as me) we can begin! First of all I tackled the squash. I bought a HUGE one so had to use a very large knife to even begin to make some damage. I peeled it first til I was down to the lovely orange flesh. I then cut it in half lengthways, scooped out all the seeds and sliced it into approximately 1 inch thick slices. Such a gorgeous colour!
I chopped these slices into cubes and put them onto a large baking tray to wait patiently for me while I sliced the sweet potatoes. I peeled those bad boys and cut them into cubes of the same size of the squash – let me tell you slicing sweet potato after slicing butternut squash is like a walk in the park, it was like cutting butter!
Once my potatoes were cut into neat cubes I added them to the baking tray, shook them around a bit and drizzled them with olive oil, salt, pepper and four whole garlic cloves (vampires love lasagna). I then added the MAGIC ingredient, sage! I used fresh sage which I really think is quite important in this recipe, it was only 78p so I pushed the boat out. I picked off about 5 leaves and dotted them around the tray.
Yummy! I popped the beauties in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180. Now at this point I found it to be a great time to grab a glass of vino and put your feet up, as all the manual labour was done and the rest of the recipe is just layering and arranging, very girly!
After about 40 minutes the squash and potato were smelling absolutely amazing and I was having great difficulty restraining myself from pouring the whole lot in a bowl and eating it in front of the TV with aforementioned wine. It was the sage that really made the flavours all come together; it goes all crispy and yummy looking so don’t throw it away, pop it in the lasagna! I squeezed open the garlic cloves which had roasted spectacularly and put the pulp into the lasagna too, waste not want not!
It was time to get serious now though. The moment every self-confessed lasagna freak loves, The Layering. There is something so theraputic about layering, I almost get into a kind of rhythm as I reach for each ingredient, watching my creation rise magnificently in front of me and imagining the guaranteed beauty of the cross-section once cooked. This lasagna is quite complex with quite a lot of layering possibilities. I started by putting the bag of spinach into a frying pan and turning the heat up until it started to wilt.
While it was wilting I assembled my ingredients – roasted squash and sweet potato, chopped tomatoes, lasagna sheets, white sauce and cheddar cheese. Layer me up baby!
Seriously, how amazing does that look? All those bright, gorgeous colours, it looks like a summers day! In fact I may have said just that, drunkenly, to my boyfriend as he came into the kitchen to check out my progress.
Now I feel I should explain the awkward elbowing/jostling for space effect occuring with the cheese. I actually ran out of grated chedder as I reached the surface and felt it would be a sensible idea to give my muscles a rest and just slice some. The second time I made this I ensured I had purchased enough goats cheese that there was enough to form a structurally strong layer on the top, thus negating the need for the not-quite-as-posh cheddar. As you can see from the photos, I created a simple layering system of lasagna sheets, butternut squash and sweet potato, tomatoes and spinach, followed by a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a generous glug of white sauce. I then repeated the process 3 times (it was a MASSIVE dish!) although I should add that the bottom layer consisted of tomatoes as over the years we have learned that for some reason lasagna sheets cook better when they are not right on the very bottom of the dish. One of lifes great mysteries that. The top layer had obviously the added goats cheese and the rest of the white sauce, plus some torn sage leaves for extra flavour. The entire dish (extremely weighty!) went into the oven for approximately an hour on 180 as I wanted to be sure the lasagna sheets were fully cooked. Upon final inspection I was greeted with this beheamouth…
Which I’m sure you’ll agree, looked terrific. We were very very excited. Within about 10 seconds of me hauling the dish from the oven Ben was besides me, plate in hand, offering to carve.
And carve I did! We just had the lasagna, no side salad, no chips, nothing. You don’t need anything else!
It was just incredible. The flavour of the sage came through in every bite, the squash was perfectly cooked, the cheddar had melted into the sauce making it extra cheesy and the goats cheese on top was crisp and strong. I saved the top layer for my very last bite and it was so worth the wait! I’m not going to lie to you, we both went back for seconds and very nearly thirds but we stopped ourselves at the last minute. I let it cool, wrapped it in foil and put it in the fridge overnight and we had it for lunch the next day, still delicious! This is a huge lasagna and unless you’re insanely greedy like us it should make 6 portions, possibly even 8 if teamed with a substantial side.
Just writing this post has made the cravings flare again with such alarming ferocity that it may have to be on the menu for this Saturday nights dinner.