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Winter Squash Lasagna with Sage, Walnuts, and Kale

This autumn lasagna is simple to make ahead and bake just before dinnertime.

Ingredients: 

The Béchamel Sauce:

3-1/2 cups milk

Aromatics: 1 garlic clove, a slice of onion, a bay leaf, a parsley sprig

3-1/2 tablespoons butter

3-1/2 tablespoon flour

Sea salt and pepper

The Squash and Noodles:

1 large butternut squash weighing 3 pounds or a little less

1 large onion, chopped in 1/2-inch squares

2 fat garlic cloves

20 or so fresh sage leaves (or 1-1/2 tablespoons dried)

1/2 cup packed parsley leaves

1 cup lightly toasted walnuts or hazelnuts, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 8-ounce package no-boil lasagna

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated Gruyére cheese

The Black Kale (also known as cavalo nero or Tuscan kale):

3 bunches black kale, washed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

Pinch red pepper flakes

Sea salt

Directions: 

The Béchamel Sauce:

1. Slowly heat the milk with the aromatics. When it’s nearly boiling, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let it stand until the squash is finished cooking, then reheat it.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Pour the milk through a strainer into the roux, then whisk briskly. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and the flour is cooked, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

The Squash and Noodles:

Butter or oil a 9 X 12-inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

1. Peel the squash and chop it into a rough dice about 1/2-inch across or less. Dice the onion and chop the garlic with the sage and parsley.

2. Heat the oil in a wide skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and squash and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, occasionally giving the pan a stir until the squash is fairly tender and caramelized in places, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic-herb mixture and the nuts. Cook a few minutes longer then turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Complete the sauce, if you haven’t already.

3. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the baking dish and lay 3 noodles over it. Cover with half the squash mixture, 1 cup of the sauce, and half the Gruyére and 1/3 of the Parmesan. Repeat, then add the third layer of noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over them and top with the remaining Parmesan. (At this point the lasagna can be baked, or it can be held until you’re ready.) Tent it with foil, bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking until bubbly and golden, 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest while you cook the kale.

The Black Kale (also known as cavalo nero or Tuscan kale):

1. Strip the kale leaves from their stems and cut them into 1/2-inch strips. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the garlic, and cook long enough for it to perfume the oil and turn pale gold, then add the pepper flakes and the kale. Season with a few pinches salt, toss in the pan to coat with the oil, then add 2 cups water. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook until the leaves are tender, 12 to 20 minutes, depending on their toughness. Don’t undercook it, though. Taste for salt.

Recipe adapted from Deborah Madison by The Splendid Table

Be good to the land and the land will be good to you.

Philip James JONES, FARM FOUNDER, 1821-1912