November is a month for remembrance, celebration, and all things orange. Orange is said to stimulate the appetite, somewhat indicative of the time of year with the onset of the colder weather. Socially, orange and black represent Halloween while orange and brown are synonymous with Thanksgiving.
The origins of these prominent dates marked on our calendars at this time of year are arguably rooted in harvest time, among other things. So as we replace one set of decorations with another, it feels like a race to the “big event”, Christmas. Slow down.
This is also a time for reflection. I’m doing some of my own now that our garden harvesting is mostly over for this year, although some winter spinach crops and parsnips remain in the ground for a while longer, I stop to consider what we have successfully grown.
We need no excuse for a feast presently and my mind turns to Butternut Squash - the lovely orange, versatile, dense fleshy vegetable readily available to buy now but one which can be stored. A few from the garden made it into the pot this year, unlike some other unlucky squash varieties which fell victim to the squash bug who infected much of the crop.
In a traditional marriage of flavors for this Butternut squash lasagna, I've included garlic and fresh sage (I’m still picking sage fresh from my plants but it can be chopped and frozen for future use). I’ve chosen to use fresh Mozzarella alongside Prairie Breeze Cheddar, which adds a saltiness to the dish which is otherwise sweet from the squash, and toasted hazelnuts add a luxurious crunch. The chunks of squash retain their shape in this dish, quickly giving way to an oozy, cheesy sauce.
This makes a great dish for the Thanksgiving holiday and I’ve teamed it with an indulgent winter coleslaw.
Butternut is also a gift for winter soups and purees.
Butternut Squash Lasagna
1 large onion, chopped
3 tbsp butter
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped sage
1 cup/4oz hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
5 tbsp flour
4½ cups/40 fl oz milk
½ cup/8 fl oz white wine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb/2 cups fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated
4 oz/1 cup Prairie Breeze cheddar, coarsely grated
12 small sheets (1/2 lb) lasagna
Soften the onion in the butter in a large pan, add the garlic and squash and cook on the hob for about 15 minutes (until the squash is just tender). Put a lid on the pan after the first 5 minutes as this allows the squash to steam after it’s initial coloring in the pan. Once cooked, stir in the parsley, sage, nuts and seasoning. Leave to one side.
Melt the butter and soften the garlic. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and wine, stirring constantly. Add the bay leaf and seasoning. Leave to one side.
Assemble in a rectangular dish 13” x 9”. Spread a spoonful of the sauce on the bottom of the dish, cover with 3 sheets of pasta, next 2/3 cup sauce and one third of the filling, then 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat twice more with pasta, sauce, filling and cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.
* the filling and roux can be made a day ahead and chilled.
2 large carrots, finely grated
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1tbsp capers, chopped
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp cider vinegar
pinch of brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
Mix the carrots, cabbage, onion and capers in a serving bowl. Mix the remaining dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir into the vegetable mix.