This “Giada Gem” was introduced over 8 years ago to my family’s Thanksgiving table by my Aunt Becky. Since then, I dust off the recipe every year and puree my butternut squash heart out. Even though I will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year with my in-laws, this will serve as a little reminder of home, like a favorite cousin, that will be waiting for me on the table. (Don’t you love that about a special recipe?! ) Though I make a couple of small variations to this recipe, I give full credit to Giada- I think this is one of her best seasonal dishes. It has become such a signature flavor of the holiday for me, I couldn’t resist posting it. Enjoy!
1 Tbs good olive oil
1 (2 1/2 lbs) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
6 amaretti cookies (the secret ingredient!)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
12 no-boil or fresh lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Place butternut squash in a cuisine art and puree. Add Amaretti cookies and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan on medium heat and whisk in flour until smooth. Slowly add milk, continuously whisking. Let the mixture simmer as you whisk and allow the sauce to begin to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add nutmeg. Remove from heat.
Place half of the béchamel mixture into a blender and add basil leaves. Blend until smooth. Pour basil mixture back into the remaining sauce and gently stir to combine. Season to taste with
salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
Butter a 13 x 9″ baker. Cover the bottom of the baker with approx 2/3 cup of basil béchamel mixture. Cover with a single layer of no boil lasagna noodles. Spread 1/4 of the pureed butternut squash mixture evenly on top. Drizzle 1/4 of the remaining béchamel mixture on top and 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella. Repeat 3 times.
Cover with foil and bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes. Pull out, remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and top with parmesan cheese. Return to the oven uncovered and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until top begins to bubble and slightly brown. Let cool slightly before serving and garnish with fresh minced Italian flat leaf parsley.