My mum showed me how to make vegetable lasagne when I was about 11 or 12 and I've been cooking it exactly the same way ever since. It became my staple meal during my uni days and I've cooked it repeatedly for friends, housemates, boyfriends and family for years.
Deciding it was time for a bit of a change, and knowing I had a giant butternut squash in the fridge that I had no immediate plans for, I finally stepped out of my lasagne comfort zone this week and came up with this recipe. I'd seen butternut squash and goats cheese lasagne recipes around but a lot of them looked way too long winded and excessively fattening so I thought I'd do it my own way.
Lasagne stick-in-the-mud that I am, I had never made one without chopped tomatoes before and I was worried the pasta wouldn't cook properly without all that juice. Indeed, it was a little crisper around the top edge than usual, but this added a nice texture and the rest of the sheets cooked perfectly. Next time I make it (and there will be a next time, it's delicious), my boyfriend wants to use homemade lasagne sheets for an extra special touch but I'll leave that to him to sort out.
The sweetness of the caramelised onions and the roasted squash is delicious against the creamy goats cheese and salty Parmesan. I'd seen other recipes adding sugar to the vegetables but I really don't think this is necessary as they're sweet enough already when cooked this way.
I kind of made up the recipe as I went along so some quantities might be a little vague, but that's the great thing about this kind of dish; you can pretty much use whatever quantities of ingredients you happen to have in.
Serves 6 - 8
I used two rectangular dishes rather than make one enormous lasagne.
one butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
3 - 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
2 red onions, sliced
2 red peppers, diced
thyme and sage (finely chopped fresh herbs ideally but dried is fine)
lasagne sheets (enough for three layers)
120g goats cheese
50g plain flour
1 pint semi-skimmed milk
50g Parmesan, plus extra for topping (Parmesan is not vegetarian so substitute if necessary. Bookhams do a great veggie alternative)
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6
Preparing the filling
Toss the butternut squash and a generous scattering of the thyme in 1 tbsp of the oil. Arrange on baking tray in single layer, season with salt and pepper and add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the tray. Bake for approx 40 minutes, or until squash is tender and starting to brown around edges. Turn a couple of times during cooking. When cooked, discard the unpeeled cloves of garlic.
While squash is cooking, heat 1tsbp oil in large frying pan. Add the red onions and cook over a low heat for around 10 minutes or until they have softened and are starting to caramelise. Add the red pepper and chopped garlic and cook for another 10 - 15 minutes. Add sprinkling of sage and thyme.
When the squash is cooked, add this to the pan of onions and peppers and mix in.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, stirring over a low heat until well combined and the mixture starts to bubble slightly. Add one third of the milk, stirring constantly until you have a smooth, thick paste. Add another third of the milk and repeat as before. Add the final third, stirring until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Remove from heat, stir in 50g grated Parmesan (or substitute), add a sprinkling of parsley and season with black pepper.
Assembling the lasagne
Spoon enough bechamel sauce into your lasagne dish to cover the bottom then add a layer of lasagne sheets, making sure the sheets don't overlap. Add half the vegetable mixture and crumble over 60g of the goats cheese. Drizzle over some of the bechamel then add a second layer of lasagne sheets.
Add the second half of the vegetables and another 60g of goats cheese. Drizzle over a little more bechamel, then add the final layer of lasagne sheets.
Spread the remaining sauce over the top, scatter with grated Parmesan then bake at in the middle of the oven at gas mark 6 for approx 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and the lasagne is bubbling away.
Serve with green veg or leaves.