I am particularly pleased with my next recipe. I was planning to make a butternut squash lasagne, as I seem to have acquired a small collection of them in my veg drawer and off course I was going to layer up the usual tomato sauce, béchamel and roast butternut squash with the customary sheets of lasagne when I had a brain wave. Why not cut the butternut squash into thin slices and use them instead of the lasagne sheet, and create a gluten free lasagne?
Everyone these days seems to be making spaghetti with vegetables. In my experience, there is however one major flaw. As soon as your vegetable spaghetti is actually cooked enough to be palatable, it dissolves. Not surprising really, as it has to gluten to keep in together. But this is where my butternut squash lasagne comes into its own. It does not have to stay together and therefore can bake away until totally delicious. The whole family was really very pleasantly surprised.
Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free)
You can only use the top of the butternut squash for this recipe as it makes nice “lasagne sheets”, so you will need quite a lot. Use the rest of the squash for another recipe.
1 large butternut squash olive oil
For the tomato sauce
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
400g can plum tomatoes
Finely chopped fresh rosemary
Large head of chard
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
For the bechamel sauce
50g plain flour (use gluten-free flour for Celiacs)
100g cheddar cheese or parmesan
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the butternut just where it begins to bulge so that you have a nice even cylinder shape. Peel the butternut squash and cut with a mandolin into nice thin sheets.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. In a pan, soften the onion in the oil for 5 mins, then add the celery and garlic and cook for 5 min more. Add the tomatoes, rinse out the tin with a little water and add that too. Add the rosemary. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and leave to simmer, uncovered for 30 mins. Stir from time to time. You should be left with a thick purée. Season to taste.
Meanwhile, if the chard has a large stalk (this is not usually the case early in the season) separate the chard stalks from the leaves and chop both leaves and stalks roughly, keeping them separate. Add the stalks to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 2–3 minutes, until tender. Remove the stalks with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the leaves to the boiling water and blanch briefly. Remove and spread out on a dry tea towel to cool. When cool use the tea towel to squeeze out as much water as possible. Cut the wet garlic or garlic into very thin slithers. Heat a little more olive oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic until just turning light golden brown. Add the Chard and season with salt and mix well. Fry briefly and remove from the heat.
Meanwhile make your béchamel. Begin by melting the butter gently – don’t over-heat it or let it brown, as this will affect the colour and flavour of the sauce. As soon as the butter melts, remove from the heat and add the flour. Stir well and return to medium heat and cook until your mixture resembles sand. Now add the milk and whisk. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and add your grated cheese. Season to taste with salt.
Assemble the lasagne. Put a thin layer of béchamel in your gratin dish and top with a layer of butternut squash sheets, Top with a layer of tomato sauce and some chard. Keep going finishing with a layer of butternut squash topped with béchamel. Bake for 30-40 mins, or until the lasagne is golden and bubbling.