This post is part of our series on Thanksgiving Tips from Our Pros. To see more tips, click here: Thanksgiving Tips from the Pros.
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Tip: Don’t be afraid to mix things up in the kitchen. Allow yourself to think beyond the traditional.
From: Maria Reina, Seasonal Chef
Her expertise: To take seasonal ingredients and create quick and easy dishes for you to recreate at home, but with a little twist.
She says: “What I like most is to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary, without being extra difficult.”
Her recipe: Delicata Squash Lasagna
Thanksgiving cooking is the mother lode of fall and winter fruits and vegetables. You could literally go crazy making beautiful colorful dishes to go along with your traditional delicious turkey.
Lasagna for Thanksgiving is an Italian-American tradition. No, the pilgrims didn’t have lasagna, but it is nearly 400 years later, right? I think one of the very nicest things about our country is the veritable melting pot of food traditions. Each of our cultures brings something to the table to be thankful for during this holiday.
In keeping with my Seasonal Chef mantra: being seasonal with the twist, I decided to take a look at lasagna with a new lens, but still keeping it relatively easy. Delicata squash is a perfect easy ingredient to work with. The skin is thin and can easily be eaten. Last year I created a fun dish using this squash along with kale: Delicata Squash, Quinoa and Kale Salad.
If you haven’t tried oven-ready lasagna now is the time. The key is to have enough liquid for the pasta sheets to soak up and cook. My filling incorporates delicata squash, arugula, a dry grating goat cheese and beschamel, along with ricotta. The result was pretty darn tasty and pretty. You can also use regular lasagna pasta, however, you only want to cook that for about 4 minutes. The overall cooking time for this lasagna is about 45 -50 minutes. It takes a little longer to make sure the squash is cooked through. If you use regular lasagna pasta you don’t want it to be mushy in the end.
First you want to start by making your beschamel My go-to recipe is pretty easy to remember: 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 cup of milk. Then season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Five finished cups was just the right amount to make it soft enough, without being soggy. While the beschamel was cooking I turned to prepping the squash. You can either slice it whole or in half. I tried it both ways, and of course cutting it in half was a lot easier. My suggestion would be to do a few whole rings for the topping and the rest in-between can be half moons.
In between you can use any green you desire, but do use something. It’s pretty to see the leafy green in-between. I used spinach the first time I made this, and then arugula the second time. The arugula definitely has a little more flavor.
The second part of this up to you is the cheese. I made it with mozzarella first and then with a goat’s milk gouda. The gouda I purchased at Whole Foods, but you might be able to find it in the fancy cheese section of the grocery store. You could go with regular chèvre, but the nice thing about using the gouda was the ability to shred it. The goat’s milk cheese gave the over all dish a lot more complexity.
The last part of this fabulous lasagna is cooking time. You will need to give it a little more time than normal. That is due to the squash. That said, this lasagna is a show stopped. It’s just beautiful baked and really delicious tasting. The tangy goat cheese, creamy sauce and ever so slightly bitter greens all comes together with the seasonal delicata squash.
So if you are looking for something a little bit different on your Thanksgiving table this year defintely give this one a try. Click this link to see my easy recipe for: Delicata Squash Lasagna