This is a beautiful autumn dish. It works best with autumn squash, although butternut can be used but it gives a slightly sweeter flavour. The goats cheese is optional for those who don’t like it.
2 autumn squash (not butternut) – approximately grapefruit size
500g washed spinach
1 tbsp butter
whole nutmeg, for grating
9 lasagne sheets (preferably fresh, but if using dried then pre soak them in boiling water for 5 minutes)
Small block of goats cheese
For the tomato sauce
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp light muscovado sugar
For the bechamel sauce
500ml full-fat milk
6 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
50g plain flour
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Heat oven to 180C.
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon, then
cut into slices and place on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil
and season, then roast for approx 30 minutes until tender.
Slice the roast flesh from the skin, roughly chop and set aside
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce.
In a pan, gently heat the oil and then sweat the onion, celery &
garlic over a low heat with the lid ajar, until soft but not browned
Season well then the tomatoes and sugar and leave to simmer,
uncovered, for 30 mins. Stir from time to time.
You should be left with a thick purée. Taste and adjust
seasoning if required. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Put the spinach in the tomato sauce saucepan and wilt over a
medium heat- you’ll need to turn it over with tongs every so
often to make sure it all comes in contact with the heat at the
bottom of the pan. When completely wilted, place in a sieve and
squeeze any water out. Chop and mix through a tbsp butter,
seasoning and a good grating of nutmeg.
For the béchamel sauce
Bring the milk to the boil in a pan with the peppercorns, onion
and bay leaf. Set aside for 15 mins to infuse, then strain the
milk into a jug.
Wipe out the spinach pan and melt the butter over a low heat.
Stir through the flour and cook gently for 1 minute. Remove
from the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking continuously.
Return to the heat and gradually bring to a gentle boil until the
sauce is thickened. Stir through the mustard and set aside.
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and assemble the
lasagne. This is where I always get confused – you’re aiming for
2 layers each of squash, tomato sauce, spinach and bechamel
and 3 layers of lasagne in total.
Butter a large gratin or baking dish.
Place half the squash in the bottom of a dish and crush
gently with a fork to spread it out.
2. Pour over half the tomato sauce.
3. Top with 3 lasagne sheets.
4. Pour over half the Bechamel sauce and scatter with half the
spinach and half the goats cheese.
5. Add another 3 lasagne sheets.
6. Spread the remaining squash on the top.
7. Now add the last of the tomato sauce.
8. Put the final layer of lasagne in the dish.
9. Scatter over the remaining spinach and goats cheese.
10. Pour the last of the Bechamel on the top and spread out to
cover the top of the dish.
11. Add a good grating of cheddar and Parmesan on the top
and scatter over a handful of pumpkin seeds.
Bake for between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on whether
fresh or dried pasta was used. Leave to set for 10 minutes