When I saw the guy who claims to make the “World’s Best Lasagna” on TV, it was as though he was throwing down the gauntlet…I had to try it for myself. And of course, I had to add my own touches to it. The beauty of this recipe is that it is one that begs to be adapted. It is pure comfort food, and the minor additions and subtle changes I made bring it into the Fall Comfort Food realm. I’ve substituted ground turkey to lighten it up–left out the sugar and some of the fat–and, what’s perhaps the biggest improvisation, I added butternut squash to the sauce. The sweetness of the squash helps balance out the richness of the sauce. In fact, the sauce is so delicious that you can simply serve it over a hearty pasta like rigatoni, or gnocchi, and call it a day. But try the lasagna, we wouldn’t be so bold as to ascribe superlatives to its name, but we do think it sure does give the “world’s best” a run for its money.
Sausage-Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna
2lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seed oil (or olive oil)
2 tsp. grated fresh nutmeg
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2-6 oz. cans tomato paste
2c. tomato sauce (canned or homemade)
1/4c. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried fennel seeds
2 tsp. oregano crushed
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 oz. paart-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
3/4 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
3/4c. Parmesan, grated
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, toss the butternut squash with the pumpkin seed oil and the freshly grated nutmeg. Lay out the cubes in a single layer on the cookie sheet, and roast for 30 minutes. Set aside.
- While squash is roasting, in a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground turkey, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Add basil, fennel seeds, oregano, salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp. parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Add roasted butternut squash and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. (Add a small ladle of water every once in a while if you notice the sauce is getting too dry.)
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and lay them flat on a baking sheet while you prepare the rest of the dish. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with non-stick foil or spray foil with cooking spray to make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 to 35 minutes, until cheese is melted and noodles get crispy around the edges. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.