Butternut-Mushroom Lasagna With Pepperjack Bechamel

Béchamel is a simple white sauce with a roux base (flour and butter), whisked with milk, half-and-half, or light cream. Flavor enhancers often include ground nutmeg, a little lemon zest, fresh or dried herbs, or cheese, as in this recipe.

Shredded pepperjack may not be a common cheese to use in béchamel, but it does add a flavorful, peppery zip to the mild, creamy sauce and layers this vegetarian lasagna with silky texture and a rich, cheesy taste.

Roasting the butternut squash, mushrooms, and scallions before mixing them in the filling brings out their deep, earthy flavors-and it's a simple process that doesn't take much time. Toss them with a little oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes. That's all there is to it.

Tip: To cut the squash into 1/4-inch half-moon slices, first cut the long end from the bulb base, then peel; cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into slices; remove seeds if using the bulb end.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the Lasagna

1 large butternut squash, 2-1/2 to 3 lbs, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch half-moon slices
8 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 scallions, white and green parts separated; green parts chopped and set aside
olive oil, for drizzling and oiling baking dish
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
12 lasagna noodles
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Italian dried herb mixture, for garnish
For the Béchamel

3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 pint half-and-half
3/4 cup grated pepperjack cheese
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preparation

For the Lasagna

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a large, shallow baking pan with parchment paper.
Place the sliced butternut squash, mushrooms, and white parts of the scallions on the pan and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss or stir to coat. Roast 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350° F. Let the vegetables cool 10 minutes, then place the scallions on a cutting board and chop.
In a large bowl, combine the squash, mushrooms, white and reserved green parts of the scallion, ricotta, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Stir gently to combine, trying not to break up the squash into small pieces.
Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles in salted, boiling water 8-9 minutes, until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water.
For the Béchamel

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour a little at a time and continue whisking until incorporated, 3 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high and gradually whisk in the half-and-half, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Stir in the pepperjack cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is slightly thickened (should coat the back of a spoon), 6-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover.
To Assemble and Bake

Lightly oil a 13 X 9-inch baking dish and place 4 lasagna noodles in the bottom, slightly overlapping. Spread half the butternut mixture over the noodles.
Spoon 1/3 of the béchamel overtop, smoothing as much as possible. Repeat the layer with 4 more noodles, the remainder of the butternut mixture, and 1/3 of the sauce.
Finish the dish with 4 noodles and spread the remaining sauce on top. Scatter the grated Parmesan cheese over all and sprinkle with dried herbs.
Bake uncovered until bubbly and beginning to brown on top, 35-40 minutes.
Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

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