Oh hello, internets. Remember me? No? I'm the owner of this here blog, which languished all summer. I do have a reasonably good excuse for some of the absence: I got married 4 weeks ago, and while I was not CONSUMED by wedding planning, it most certainly did absorb some energy. Also, it was summer, and I was doing summery things, like not cooking.

So I'm coming back at you today with, by way of penance, a delicious fat-bomb. It could definitely be worse: I could have used full-fat dairy products and a lot more cheese. Regardless, this is one of those meals that tells you that warm weather is definitively a thing of the past and you should start amassing an extra layer against the cold wind.

We got our last CSA box on Wednesday, and it was full of squash and pumpkins and beets and carrots and potatoes and brussels sprouts, all those harvest-y, hunker-down-for-the-winter kinds of foods. I roasted some unidentified squash earlier this week and hadn't decided how to use it until one of my Facebook friends asked the same general question: what do I do with all this squash? And then I remembered an amazing pasta dish a friend made me years ago, a homemade butternut ravioli with gouda sauce (and then I died). Coincidentally, today I found a picture of myself eating that very meal (we often photographed our feasts back then). There were brussels sprouts on the side, which was an excellent idea as well.

Cat in the kale.
Kale and sage from my backyard, being investigated by Ace

In light of all this, I decided to make a lasagna using the same pairing of smoky, salty cheese and sweet winter squash, but with a sage-infused bechamel sauce and layers of kale sauteed with caramelized onions. This is not one of your quick weeknight meals, but if you're already sitting on 1-2 pounds of roasted winter squash, you can do the prep in about 30-40 minutes. If you don't have any squash ready, seeding, baking, scooping, and pureeing it will realistically take you at least an hour. While it's baking, though, you can do the other lasagna prep. Baking time for the lasagna is another hour.


Winter Squash Lasagna with Kale, Sage, and Caramelized Onions

Pre-heat your oven to 350 once your onions are well in hand.

For the bechamel sauce:
2-3 T olive oil
3 T flour
3 c milk (I used 1%)
30 or so fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 t dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced

Warm the oil in a small pan. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk together. Whisk in the milk 1/2 cup at a time and allow the mixture to thicken slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the sage leaves and rosemary. While this is infusing, saute the garlic briefly in a little olive oil, and then scrape every bit of it into the sauce. You can either leave it on very low heat or turn the burner off while you do the rest of the prep.

Bechamel being infused with sage.

For the fillings:
1 large onion, sliced
1 bunch kale, chopped
olive oil for the pan

In the same pan you used for the garlic, heat a bit more oil and add the onions, stirring to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt. Let the onions cook very slowly and stir frequently. When they are full of caramely goodness, add the kale and two tablespoons (or so) of water. Cook until the kale is bright green and wilted and the onions are as done as you'd like them to be.


1-2 pounds of baked/roasted winter squash
1 15 ounce tub of ricotta (I used part-skim)

Puree the squash using whatever equipment you like--I used an immersion blender. Add half the ricotta and mix together. Either salt and pepper to taste, or leave this plain, depending on your reaction to the side note below.

Side note: at this point in the prep I had a moment of reckoning. The squash by itself was perfect, sweet and delicious; with ricotta added, it was starting to taste like pumpkin cheesecake, and I sampled a lot more than was strictly necessary. I didn't add anything else to the squash mixture because I thought if there was some left over, it would become scones or muffins or something with a ginger snap crust. As it turns out, I have 2 cups in the fridge. That's just a tip from me to you, if you have more like 2 pounds of squash and a sweet tooth.

1 half pound of good smoked gouda cheese--preferably not the cheese-foodesque stuff with the brown rind--shredded
Half a brick of firm tofu (optional, but stealth protein)
1 t dried sage
1/2 t dried thyme

Mix about half the shredded gouda with the remaining ricotta. Mash the tofu and combine well. Add spices and stir. I had last year's dried sage in the cabinet and thought I'd add another layer of flava, plus a little circle-of-life kind of vibe, since the fresh sage I used is also from my garden (and sage is a perennial, as I learned to my delight this year when it reappeared).

To build the lasagna:
Spray your lasagna pan with non-stick spray (or oil it lightly). Pour a scant third of the bechamel into the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of UNCOOKED lasagna noodles. Spread a layer of the squash on top of the noodles, then the ricotta mixture, then onions and kale, then a little shredded cheese. Repeat this sequence once. Add another layer of noodles and pour the remaining bechamel over the top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining gouda, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Squash, gouda, kale, onion, sage lasagna.

Some notes: I always think I'm going to love squash + pasta more than I actually do. I think this is because in theory I love all the ingredients, but in practice the combination tends to be relentlessly rich. If you have some roasted tomatoes on hand, you might add a layer of those to this recipe. I think it's missing some acidity. Also, if you find that your squash is a bit dry after roasting, you can add some milk or water to help the pureeing along. The extra moisture will help cook your noodles thoroughly. Finally, salt your lasagna layers to taste. I skipped this step and had to add it afterward.