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Nov. 2 2009 - 12:43 am | 122 views | 1 recommendation | 13 comments

Meatless Monday: Thanksgiving-Worthy Lasagna

Cucurbita moschata 'Butternut'.

Image via Wikipedia

Today is 11/2.

That means Thanksgiving is 24 days away.

What’s on the menu? (Do you have a menu?)

As announced last week,  I’ll be serving up all kinds of tips and tricks to help you plan, prep and stay sane in anticipation of the biggest feast of the year.

This week’s meatless treat (and for the next three weeks) has a decidedly Thanksgiving-ish bent, and on other days leading up to the holiday, I’ll talk wine, dessert, kitchen tools, eating peacefully with the crazy relatives and anything else that’s keeping you up at night.

Now about today’s featured recipe: I suppose one could argue that lasagna and Thanksgiving shouldn’t be uttered in the same sentence, but this version, from vegetarian cooking doyenne Deborah Madison, is an autumnal shoo-in. Instead of the same-ole marinara-spinach-ricotta combo, this pretty little three-layered number celebrates the here and now, with in-season butternut squash, sage and walnuts.

Good-natured vegetarians will tell you not to fuss, that there are plenty of sides to keep them satisfied while everyone else is debating over white versus dark meat.  My advice? Make the lasagna. It’s good will, it’s good eats and it’s equal opportunity feasting.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Lasagna
Adapted from “Vegetarian Suppers” by Deborah Madison

3 1/2 cups milk
Aromatics: 1 each: garlic clove, slice onion, bay leaf, parsley sprig
4 garlic cloves
Approximately 20 fresh sage leaves (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried)
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large butternut squash (approximately 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup walnuts or hazelnuts, finely chopped
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 8-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup grated Gruyere
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Grease a 9×13 baking dish.

In a small pot, gently heat milk with aromatics. When it’s nearly boiling, cover pot, turn off heat and let stand.

Chop the four garlic cloves along with the sage and parsley, and set aside.

Heat oil in a wide skillet. Add diced squash and onion and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat and continue cooking, until squash is fairly tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic-herb mixture and nuts. Stir and cook for a few minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn off heat.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make bechamel sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan and stir in flour. Roux will form quickly; cook for about 1 minute, constantly stirring. Pour milk over a strainer into roux, whisking. Lower heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sauce thickens, about 15-20 minutes. Season with the ½ teaspoon salt and nutmeg. KOD note: If béchamel sauce is not your thing, season and heat 3 ½ cups tomato puree.

Assemble lasagna: Spread 1/2 cup of bechamel (or tomato puree) on the surface of the baking dish. Lay three or four noodles on top. Cover with half the squash mixture, 1 cup of the sauce, half the Gruyere, one third of the Parmigiano.

Repeat, beginning with noodles, finishing with a third layer of noodles. Spread remaining sauce on top, plus remaining Parmigiano.

Seal pan with a foil tent. (At this point, lasagna may be kept in fridge one day in advance.)

Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking until bubbly and golden, at least 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let rest before serving.

Feeds at least six.


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  1. collapse expand

    Kim, not a squash question (though am DEFINITELY going to try this), but a Turkey-Day question.

    I’ve got the dough resting for a second (made the first last night) apple galette (a favorite, easy dessert of mine). I’d like to put the second “up” for later. Question: should I bake fully and freeze, then thaw to eat, or partially bake, freeze, then thaw & bake the remainder of time. Recipe calls for baking til dough just turning color (15-20 mins) @450, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 20-30, til pastry crunchy/flaky when pierced w/ a skewer.

  2. collapse expand

    thanks. it’ll get baked fully tomorrow night, then. ooh! can’t wait for your book! a savory galette is a great idea!

  3. collapse expand

    This sounds wonderful and is the second vegetarian alternative for Thanksgiving I’ve come across that sounds wonderful. The other being a Shephard’s Pie in the final issue of Gourmet. Both will be served soon in the Blade’s casa.

    I’m not sure about it as a Thanksgiving alternative to a main dish as the oven is getting pretty heavy workout in that last hour. I wonder if it could be cooked in parallel with the turkey on a rack under the bird. It certainly would be a great dish to bring to a Thanksgiving feast.

    I’ve hosted a few Thanksgiving meals with pescetarians in attendance. As we live in the DC area, I’ve roasted a whole rockfish for the occasion. Out goes the bird, I kick up the oven temperature, and in goes the fish. I’ve even made the turkey eaters envious! [They can share, but the pescetarians get first dibbs.]


  4. collapse expand

    Fairlingtonblade, good to hear from you, it’s been a while. The lasagna could be baked the night before, then reheated with a foil cover after the bird emerges. As you’ll notice in my lastest post,there are so many things to choose from on Thanksgiving that haven’t got a thing to do with turkey.

  5. collapse expand

    Hey Kim,

    Some very busy days. On the plus side, we had some great pizza at Paradiso and Mrs. Blade got to meet the Secretary of State! I’ll be out of town for Thanksgiving this year, so it’s the Blade’s first chance to cook Thanksgivign dinner with his mum. Hope to catch you on the chat this week.


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    About Me

    You might know me from The Washington Post, where for a dozen years I dished up cooking content, both as Web chat hostess ("What's Cooking") and daily blog minx ("A Mighty Appetite").

    To the table, I offer a stew of journalism (total = 16 years) and cooking smarts (a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education), served with a side of life-long curiosity.

    Home is Seattle for now, but until last year was parked on the east coast, born and raised outside of Philadelphia, where H20 is pronounced "wooder."

    In addition to the Post, I have written for Real Simple, Smithsonian.com and Culinate, where I host "Table Talk," a weekly chat every Thursday (1 pm ET/ 10a PT).

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