Hello! Yes, I’ve been MIA for about three months, which is pretty much the death sentence for blog readership. However, I am back and ready for action, so no need to call the Blogosphere Social Services. They’re real. They’re out there. Moving on… within these past three months, I’ve surprised everyone (mostly myself) by sticking to my New Year’s Resolution of working out, eating healthfully, and developing the bulging muscles I’ve always desired. Okay, perhaps that last part isn’t true in any sense. I am puny. But what is true is that I purchased a Pilates mat last night and it is currently accompanying 40% of the surface area in my apartment… perhaps it’s a good thing I can’t avoid it.
So, for my first returning recipe, I have undertaken the ultimate challenge to turn a Giada dish healthy. That woman loves the cheese. She also must love the Pilates mat because I don’t know where she puts it all.
This is the ultimate comfort recipe, tweaked to pump up the nutrients and slash the fat and calorie count. This, of course, does not apply to me because I pretty much consumed the entire thing. It’s ridiculously tasty. The New Year’s resolution is a work in progress, my friends…
INGREDIENTS - 1 (1 ½ to 2 lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, & cut into 1-inch cubes (I’m apparently a diva because I like the pre-cubed, pre-packaged squash for $3.50) - 2 cups baby spinach - ½ cup water - ¼ cup margarine (I like Earth Balance Buttery Spread) - ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour - 3 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk (it thickens up more nicely than other DF milks) pinch nutmeg - ¾ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves - 12 no-boil lasagna noodles - 2 ½ cups skim mozzarella cheese - 1/3 cup low fat grated Parmesan (I’m cheap and get the shake-able cheese)
1. Add cubed squash to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet and then cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
2. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor. I like to keep the consistency a bit chunky; not completely pureed.
3. Melt the margarine in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the almond milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly.
4. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender. Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
6. Lightly spray a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass or tin baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles lasagna on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Now add the baby spinach (it’ll steam in the oven, so no need to pre-sauteé. I made that mistake.) Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of skim mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.
7. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.
8. Garnish with a few basil leaves to show how fancy you are.