Manda Cooks: Butternut Squash and Sage Skillet Lasagna

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Back in October or November, I pinned a recipe for Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna and then proceeded to think about it pretty much daily. With this recipe in mind, I added a cast-iron skillet to my Christmas wishlist and, thank s to my mom, my wish was granted!

I love to cook on Sunday nights; for me it’s my way of wrapping up the weekend before the start of another crazy week. This past Sunday dinner was particularly monumental because it wrapped up a full TWO WEEKS off of work for me (::sigh::), so I thought it was the perfect time to pull this recipe out and break in my new skillet. Plus it is (finally) full-on winter in New York, which means it’s freezing, which means you basically only ever want to eat warm, cheesy food. (Except for yesterday when I had Liquiteria for lunch but hush.)

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Something about the lasagna tasted so much like Thanksgiving – it was comfort food at its finest! But somehow it wasn’t too heavy. A miracle, I know. The butternut squash is super creamy, and the sausage adds some oomph to the dish, so you don’t actually end up needing too much cheese, or too many noodles…. relatively speaking : )

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I combined two recipes when I made it (this one, and this one) – my best memory of what I did is below! As far as I can tell, the only thing that could go wrong here is it being a little too dry. I was afraid of this, since I’m used to saucey baked pastas, so I drizzled a bit of chicken broth on the finished product before putting it in the oven. I think you could probably do this mid-way through cooking if needed, if you check on it and it seems like it’s a little thirsty. Otherwise, the recipe is pretty fool-proof, despite being a bit time consuming. Even though it’s technically a one-pot mean, it’s a 25-dish meal. So, if you lack a dishwasher like I do, add about 20 minutes of dish washing into your timeline!

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Here’s what you need:
3 cups cubed butternut squash (small cubes!)
6-8 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 cup chicken stock
1 onion, diced
8 sages leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
small handful parsley, chopped
1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 cups 2% milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup ricotta
1/2 cup parmesan
10-12 little mozzarella balls, cut in half
salt, pepper, nutmeg, olive oil

Here’s what you do:
Prep the squash: Heat oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and squash, plus salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir to coat, then add 1/3 cup chicken broth. Cover and cook until squash has softened, about 15 minutes. Spoon squash into separate bowl and mash with fork or potato masher. Add another 1/3 cup of chicken broth to the mixture and stir to combine – it shouldn’t be too runny, or too thick.
Prep the sausage: Using the same skillet, cook onion until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Add sausage and use spatula to break into small pieces. Cook over medium heat until sausage has cooked through – this will cook again in the oven so you don’t have to be too diligent, just watch what you taste test as you go! Spoon sausage into separate bowl.
Prep the sauce: Using the same skillet, melt butter. Once butter is melted and bubbly, whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until nutty. Slowly add milk, stirring almost constantly, allowing mixture to bubble and thicken. Once all milk is added and sauce has thickened, add ricotta, parmesan, sage and parsley. Stir to combine then spoon sauce into separate bowl, leaving some in the pan to coat the bottom.
Assemble the lasagna: Alternate layering lasagna noodles (break apart to create a full layer as best as you can), smashed butternut squash, sausage, sauce, and mozzarella halves. Make sure you save enough sauce for the top! Once everything is assembled, pour a bit of chicken broth in the sides, sort of like you are watering a plant. Top with extra shredded parm, and whole sage leaves. Bake at 375F for 30-40 minutes, until slightly brown on top and bubbling on the sides. Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.

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