Lasagna con Lo Zucca

(Lasagna with a Winter Squash Filling)

Recipes for Ravioli stuffed with Zucca, or Winter Squash, can be found without a great deal of difficulty.  However we have not seen a lasagna  prepared using a squash and filling.  We made the lasagna described below for Thanksgiving and it was a welcome change from the more typical  lasagne more often made.   Its flavors also fit the Thanksgiving Season nicely.  We would not necessarily make it only at Thanksgiving, but any time we had an urge for a non tomato or béchamel based lasagna.  It is a fairly complicated recipe, but well worth the effort.

Ingredients

1 1/2  Lbs Lasagna Noodles - [See Note 1]
3 -4  Lb. Winter squash - dark green in color and thick skinned
1 Cup Ricotta cheese
1 Tsp. Nutmeg - freshly ground
2 Slices Prosciutto - cut into small pieces
1/2 Cup Pine nuts
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
24 leaves Sage - fresh & chopped into small pieces
1 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Pepate cheese - grated fresh
Salt &Pepper       To Taste
Note 1: This recipe is best when made with fresh lasagna noodles, but can be made with dry, store bought ones. If using store bought, use 1 3/4 lbs. and  cook to an al dente state prior to using

Preparing the Stuffing

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cut the Zucca (Squash) into quarters and remove the seeds and any fibrous materials found.  Place the pieces on a baking sheet and sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil.  Put into the oven and cook until the squash is tender - about 30-40 minutes depending upon the size of the squash.  Remove and allow to  cool.  When they can be handled, scoop the pulp out with a spoon and put into a mixing bowl large enough to hold all of the other ingredients.  Blend until creamy using a hand blender.  If a hand blender is not available, a food processor will do. 

Add all of the other ingredients except the cheese and sage leaves to the bowl.  Add 1/3 of the cheese, and and 1/2 of the sage leaves.  Mix with a large spoon.  Set aside while preparing the noodles.

Turn off the oven.

Preparing the Lasagna Noodles

Mix 1-Tsp. salt, 1 Tbl. olive oil, two eggs (or one whole egg and one yolk), and two cups flour in the mixing bowl of a food processor or mixer. Knead until dough still a bit sticky. Place on a floured board and knead by hand for 3-4 minutes. Cut the dough into 10 -12 pieces. Using a pasta machine, pass the pasta through the machine while gradually reducing the settings as you go along. No cutters will be used. The idea is to make a noodle as wide as the roller, and as thin as can be handled. Ideally each noodle should be approximately 4 1/2 feet long when finished. If this is too difficult to handle, 2-3 feet will do.  On the pasta machine used, the "#5" setting was used for the last one or two passes. allow the noodles to dry on floured boards for 15 minutes prior to using.

Into a large mixing bowl add water, ice cubes and 1/4 cup olive oil. This will be used to keep the noodles separated after they have been boiled for a minute, and is best prepared ahead.

Place a large pasta pot on the stovetop, and bring the water to a gentle boil. Add 3 tablespoons of salt to the pot, then reduce heat so that the water boils gently. Add 2-3 fresh noodles at a time. As soon as they float to the top of the pot, remove them with a slotted spoon, and place them into the water/ice/olive oil bowl. As soon as these are cooled - only 10-20 seconds remove from the ice  water bath and place on kitchen paper towels. Do this until all the noodles are cooked. If the water in the cooling pot begins to heat up, add more ice. Do not stack the noodles on top of each other or they will stick together. Have at least two thickness of paper in between batches. 

Assembling the Lasagna

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Oil the bottom of a 9 x 12 casserole.  Place noodles on the bottom so that all sides are covered as well as the bottom.  Do this in such a manner that at least 6 inches or the noodles are hanging over all sides. (This is quite easy with hand made noodles, but takes extra store bought ones.) 

Spread 3-4 large spoonfuls of the squash stuffing on the noodles. The stuffing layer should be about 3/16 of an inch thick - more or less.  Sprinkle this layer with some of the grated cheese and a little olive oil, then  fold over the enough noodles to cover the stuffing.  With hand made noodles, folding the two ends over will accomplish this.  With store bought ones, a few noodles may have to be added to the center to cover the stuffing. Add another layer of stuffing, cheese and oil, then fold over one side of the noodles to cover this.  Add a third layer of stuffing in this manner and then fold over the remaining noodles.  The final layer should be noodles.

Using a sharp pair of pointed scissors, make cuts in the top layer. Overlapping noodles can be cut into short ribbons.  In this way as they bake, some will turn up others down, and a beautiful pattern emerges. Place 6-8 small pats of butter on the noodles and then sprinkle with olive oil.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Check after about 15-20 minutes to see if the top noodles are browning too much.  If so, place  a loose sheet of aluminum foil on the casserole to stop the browning and continue baking for the allotted time.

Remove when done, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare a sage-butter and olive oil sauce.  Add ten to twelve sage leaves to three tablespoons of  hot melted butter  to which two thirds of a cup of extra virgin olive il has been added. allow this to simmer for a minute then turn off the heat.

Serve the lasagna, adding 3-4 tablespoons of sauce to each serving along with a tablespoon of grated cheese.


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Last updated on:11/28/99 11:50:30 PM