There is nothing as satisfying on a cool fall day than a slice of lasagna made with fresh noodles layered with creamy béchamel sauce and a delicious sausage squash ragu that is lightly flavored with fresh sage. This is a delicate lasagna that actually even tastes better the second day when the flavors have had a chance to meld together. Although I always make my own fresh lasagna noodles, if you are pressed for time you can certainly use store bought noodles if you prefer. I would use only sweet Italian sausages in this dish as spicy ones overpower the delicate flavor of the squash. I did make two of these lasagnas, freezing one for later and found when it was thawed and baked the frozen one could have used a little more bechamel sauce, so if you decide to freeze yours, just make sure you add lots of sauce.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 4 Cups Unbleached Flour
- 5 Extra Large Eggs
- Pinch of Salt
- 8 Tablespoons (one stick) Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
- 6 Cups Milk
- Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
- Salt And Pepper To Taste
Sausage and Squash Sauce:
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Pounds Sweet Italian Sausage, Casing Removed
- 10 Fresh Sage Leaves, Chopped
- 5 Cups Diced Butternut Squash (About 1 Large Squash)
- 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
- 2 Clove Garlic, Minced
- 3 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped Parsley
- 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
- 1 Cups Chicken Stock
- Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste
- 3 Cups (About 3/4 Pound) Shredded Mozzarella
- 1 1/2 Cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
- To make the pasta, mound your flour on a large pastry board, or the counter, and make a well in the center.
- Break the eggs into this well, and start to scramble each egg with a fork as it is being added, and start to incorporate the eggs and flour by slowly bringing more flour in from the inside edges of the well.
- Continue adding the flour to the eggs until they are no longer runny.
- Using your hands now, bring the outside edges in, forming a large mass on your board.
- Use only the amount of flour needed to form a soft ball.
- Begin to knead the ball of dough as you would bread, pushing it down with the heel of your hand, and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and satiny, for about 8 minutes.
- Wrap the prepared dough in plastic wrap, and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Use a pasta roller or roll by hand to make long sheets of pasta 1/4 thick. (I use my Kitchen Aide table mixer with the pasta attachment and roll my past to the third last position.)
- After rolling, cut into 12 inch long strips, then precook in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in ice water.
- Dry and set aside on clean kitchen towels.
- For the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, and once it is completely melted and bubbling, add the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Cook for a minute or two until the flour just begins to take on some color, then slowly start adding the milk, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming, and continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, stirring often.
- Season with a pinch of salt, white pepper and nutmeg, and set aside until you are ready to use, by pouring the sauce into a glass bowl and covering with a buttered sheet of plastic wrap.
- For the squash and sausage sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the sausage and sage and cook until sausage is evenly browned with no pink showing, about 5 minutes, breaking up the sausage as it cooks with a fork.
- Remove the sausage to a bowl.
- Add remaining one tablespoon of the olive oil, butternut squash, onions, and garlic to the pan, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften and just begin to brown, about 7 minutes.
- Return the sausage to the skillet and add the white wine, stirring to 'deglaze' the bottom of the pan.
- When the wine is almost completely reduced, add the chicken stock, and bring to the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped parsley, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Set aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spread 1/2 cup of the béchamel on the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish rubbed with butter.
- Set aside 1 cup of the béchamel sauce for the top.
- Arrange lasagna noodles over the sauce in the dish, trimming them to fit if needed, and spread 1/2 of the sausage and butternut mixture over the noodles, top with 3/4 cup of mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, then spoon some of the béchamel sauce over to cover.
- Repeat layers, ending with noodles, then spread the reserved 1 cup of béchamel sauce over the noodles, cover, and bake at 375°F for 35 minutes. Remove the cover, sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and cook until lightly browned and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.