Happy New Year!!
I've had a few weeks back in Chicago from my almost 3-week vacation in Australia and I'm finally (kinda somewhat) getting back into the routine of the daily grind. I won't lie, after enjoying so many gorgeous days exploring myriad places and being active from morning until evening, it's been difficult coming back to Chicago and being cooped up indoors. And going from sunny 86 degrees to wind chills of negative forty degrees in a matter of a few days didn't make the transition any easier!
I was going to work on Part I of my (planned) blog posts about Australia tonight, and then I uploaded my 900 photos and was a bit paralyzed by the daunting task of sorting through all those awesome photos.
One of my favorites from the trip, Christmas Day at Port Douglas
So I decided to tackle an actual food blog post instead. :)
Australia pictures/adventures will come slowly over the next few weeks. But for today, enjoy this recipe for an incredibly delicious homemade lasagna dish with butternut squash, sausage, and creamy sage sauce.
The perfect winter-time dish!
I have to admit, because I decided to hand-make the lasagna noodles, the recipe was pretty damn time consuming. Not only were there a bunch of components to the dish (sauteed veggies, sausage, ricotta cheese blend, and cheese sauce), there was also a little bit of assembly required for each lasagna roll. So all in all, it took me over 4 hours to get the dish together (not including baking time). But there are lots of places you could easily cut time (eg, don't make your own pasta!), so don't let the recipe below frighten you.
And if you're as lucky as I was, you might have a gorgeous sunset waiting for you after you finish!
Wrigley Field in a sea of color
What I loved about this dish was that every single bite, from beginning to end, was moan worthy in its deliciousness. The flavors weren't a punch-you-in-the-face type, but the wrap-you-up-in-a-warm-blanket kind.
Perfectly portioned servings
The sausage was perfectly spiced (gotta love fennel) and incredibly well balanced with the slightly sweet butternut squash. There were also a few neat surprises in the dish: a green apple added just a hint of natural sweetness to compliment the very savory flavors and the chopped hazelnuts provided great moments of nuttiness and crunch in an otherwise very tender dish.
Getting ready for their roasting
And the sage. Ohhhhh my lordy the sage. I love sage and pasta together (brown butter and sage might be one of the best flavor combinations on earth), so its no surprise I loved the herb in this delicate cream sauce. It's really the entire reason I decided to make this recipe in the first place. And I'm so glad I did!
Don't fret the massive amount of sage--the flavor mellows out as you cook the sauce
Once you have all your components ready (mise en place, always!) you're ready to start assembling. Each lasagna noodle gets a layer of ricotta cheese, some cream sauce, and a handful of the sausage/veggie mixture before getting rolled up.
Top the rolls with the remainder of the cream sauce and some cheese, and this dish is ready for a trip in the oven!
What I love is that this dish is perfectly portioned into 8 hearty servings. A single lasagna roll with a large salad is pretty much the most perfect winter dinner you could ask for, even if you'd much rather take a 16-hour flight back to summertime paradise half a world away!
Yours in trying to get back into the swing of things by tackling a fairly involved recipe,
Butternut squash and sausage lasagna rolls with creamy sage sauce, from The Noshery
3 cups 1/2 inch cubed butternut squash (about 1 small butternut)
Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 small onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and small dice
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
salt to taste
1 pound ground pork
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon rubbing sage or powdered sage
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (I used 1/2 tsp dried)
1 1/2 cup whole ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
salt to taste
Creamy Sage Sauce
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh sage leaves, chopped (ended up being just one of those single plastic packets that are commonly found in the grocery stores)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/4 scant cup shaved parmesan
8 lasagna noodles, prepared according to package directions or fresh pasta (my preferred recipe here and The Noshery's recipe/detailed directions here)
1/2 cup parmesan
3/4 cup mozzarella
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil. Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions, toss lightly in oil and set aside until ready to use. (If using fresh noodles, prepare the dough, roll out, boil for 30 seconds, plunge in ice water, and set aside.)
- Filling. Spread cubed butternut squash on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss until well coated. Roast in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring once halfway. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine all sausage ingredients. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, drizzle with olive oil. When skillet is hot add sausage mixture, cook until browned and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon transfer sausage to a plate, keeping the dripping in the pan.
- Return skillet with the sausage drippings to stove over medium high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until they start to get soft, about 5 mins. Add diced apple and garlic to the skillet, sprinkle with salt, and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits at the bottom of the skillet. Add the squash and chopped hazlenuts. Sauté until the squash is lightly browned, 1 to 2 more minutes. Add cooked sausage until well combined, set aside.
- Ricotta blend. In a large bowl combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan. Stir until well combined, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
- Sage sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sage, sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Splash with white wine and gradually whisk in the milk. 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 and parmesan, continue to whisk until smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Assembly. Spray a large 9 x 14 casserole dish with non-stick spray, spread a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish, set aside.
- Lay lasagna noodles flat on a clean work surface. Reserve about 1/2 cup of sauce for topping. On each noodle, spread and layer cheese mixture, followed by remaining sauce and sausage/veggie filling. Carefully roll the noodles and place in prepared dish, seam side down.
- Top lasagnas with cream sauce and remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Bake in the oven cover at 350 degrees for 15 min, remove cover, back another 20 minutes. To brown the cheese put under the Lo broiler for a few minutes, be sure to keep an eye on it.
- Butternut and sausage filling can be made a day ahead.
- Assemble and freeze. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 45 minutes, remove cover bake an additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Broil on Lo to brown cheese.
- Lasagna rolls can be frozen in small aluminum loaf pans for individual servings. Bake at 350 covered for 30 minutes, remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Broil on Low to brown cheese.