Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Sage
This pretty vegetarian lasagna, which is packed with hearty butternut squash flavored with brown butter, takes a while to assemble, but don’t be intimidated. The squash can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, and you can use purchased lasagna noodles if you don’t want to make your own.
For the lasagna noodles:
- 2 cups (10 oz./315 g) 00 flour, plus more as needed
- Pinch of salt
- 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 30 fresh sage leaves, stems removed
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
- 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups (28 fl. oz./875 ml) whole milk
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- 2 cups (8 oz./250 g) grated fontina cheese
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
For the fried sage (optional):
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 10 fresh sage leaves
- Kosher salt
To make the lasagna noodles, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour and salt on low speed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and 1 Tbs. water. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and slowly drizzle in the liquid. Mix the dough until it comes together, about 1 minute.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and firm, about 4 minutes. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into three pieces. Working with one piece at a time, and leaving the remaining pieces wrapped in plastic wrap, on a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick and no wider than your pasta roller. Roll the dough through the rollers once at the widest setting, then place the dough on the work surface and fold it into thirds. Repeat the process 2 more times, rolling the dough through the rollers at the widest setting and folding it into thirds each time.
Now thin the dough by rolling it through the rollers at the second-to-widest setting. Repeat, setting the rollers one notch narrower each time, until the dough is about 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick (usually the second-to-last setting). Place the dough sheet on your floured working surface and place 10 sage leaves evenly over half of the dough. Fold the dough in half, pressing to seal the leaves in place. Return the pasta roller to its widest setting and pass the dough through again. Repeat, setting the rollers one notch narrower each time, until the dough is about 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick again. Place the dough sheet on your floured work surface and use a sharp knife to cut into strips about 9 inches (23 cm) long and 5 inches (12.5 cm) wide. Repeat to roll out and cut the remaining dough pieces. Cover the pasta with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out and set aside.
Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C).
Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the thyme sprigs, 1/2 tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper and toss to combine. Spread the squash in a single layer and roast until the squash is tender and beginning to brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack. Discard the thyme sprigs and set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter and cook, swirling frequently, until the butter has browned and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Combine the squash and brown butter in a bowl and mash coarsely with a fork. Set aside.
To make the béchamel, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 4 Tbs. butter. When the butter foams, add the flour and sage and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the cayenne pepper and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Line 2 baking sheets with paper towels.
Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the pasta sheets to the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds. Immediately remove with a skimmer and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
To assemble the lasagna, brush a deep 9-inch (23-cm) baking dish with olive oil. Spoon a third of the béchamel into the prepared baking dish. Cover evenly with a third of the pasta sheets, then spread half of the squash mixture evenly atop the pasta, followed by half of the fontina. Repeat to create more layers, using a third of the béchamel, a third of the pasta sheets, the remaining half of the squash mixture and the remaining half of the fontina. Finish with the remaining third of the pasta sheets and the remaining third of the béchamel, and sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browned, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Meanwhile, make the fried sage: In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the sage leaves to the pan and fry until crisp, 20 to 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the leaves to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Sprinkle the leaves lightly with salt.
Let the lasagna cool slightly, then garnish with the sage leaves and serve. Serves 6.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen