squash + broccoli rabe lasagna

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There is much to be learned from failure. For example, take this deceptively simply butternut squash lasagna. Longtime readers will remember my initial lasagna triumph, and how I swore I’d never go back to the traditional meat and sauce version. NEVER AGAIN!! However, I got a little arrogant, a little crazy, me being the overzealous, I-can-replace-whole-milk-with-anything type of cook, and I initially botched this lasagna by adding in almond milk. My rationale? The rabe will cut the nuttiness and will complement the squash. Not true, my friends. Nothing could be further from the truth. So I tried again using soy milk and I have to say that although nothing compares to the rich creaminess of basic bechamel, this was a decent substitute. Certainly, you could nix soy and rice altogether and opt for full-fat milk and this would be perfection.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, with modifications.
For the Filling
2 2-lb. butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 pounds broccoli rabe (rapini), tough stems removed
Crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated
1/2 pound gruyere, chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

For the Béchamel and Assembly
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups (or more) 2% (or soy/rice) milk
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 pound whole wheat no-cook lasagna noodles

DIRECTIONS
For the Filling: Preheat oven to 400°. Place squash and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl; season generously with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat squash. Transfer to 2 rimmed baking sheets, spreading out in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Roast until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Quickly blanch broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling salted water just until it wilts, 1–2 minutes. Drain; briefly cool under running water. Squeeze out excess water; coarsely chop and transfer to a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes; drizzle with oil and toss to coat.

Mix mozzarella, gruyere and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Squash, broccoli rabe, and cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

For the Béchamel and Assembly: Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; stir until slightly thickened (do not allow mixture to turn brown), 2–3 minutes. Increase heat slightly; slowly whisk in 5 cups soy milk, 1/2-cupful at a time, allowing béchamel to thicken between additions (adding milk gradually will help to prevent lumps from forming). Add a bay leaf.

Reduce heat to low and cook, thinning with more milk if too thick, until sauce is a milk shake–like consistency, about 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over a large saucepan of gently simmering water. Cover and keep warm.

Ladle about 1/4 cup béchamel into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish; spread evenly over bottom. Line dish with a single layer of noodles, cutting as needed to fit (use large scraps in subsequent layers). Layer 1/3 of squash over. Scatter 1/3 of broccoli rabe over. Dollop 1/3 of cheese mixture randomly over greens. Drizzle 1/2 cup béchamel evenly over ricotta mixture. Repeat process 2 more times for a Total of 3 layers, finishing with a layer of noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over; top with remaining cheese. DO AHEAD: Lasagna can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Return to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake lasagna uncovered until bubbly and starting to brown, about 45 minutes. Turn oven to broil. Cook until browned and golden, 4–7 minutes. Let rest for 20–30 minutes before serving.

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