The Root Of The Matter

26 Feb

Isaac has been protesting of late that we haven’t been eating enough winter vegetables.

In his perfect world, winter would mean an endless parade of dinners featuring cabbage, squash, hearty greens and root vegetables.  Apparently, I have been depriving him of these things this winter.  So last week when I had a craving for lasagna, I knew how to get him to agree to it.  I suggested we have squash lasagna.

I know squash lasagna sounds a little weird, but it’s not. In fact, it’s awesome.  A few years ago I made a vegetarian lasagna that featured a thick, fragrant layer of spaghetti squash mingled with ricotta cheese and herbs.  Sometimes, when Isaac is dreaming about it, he’ll walk up to someone on the street and just start telling them about it.  Sometimes I suspect he keeps me around solely in case I decide to make that again … Kidding! But honestly, it was very good and I have no idea why I never wrote about it before, maybe because it’s a little complicated, and well, a little weird.

So, squash lasagna was on.  A layer of garlicky, herby butternut would replace the thick layers of cheese and bechamel.  And there would be a spicy, aggressive layer of chard.  And a topping of caramelized mushrooms and lots of fresh mozarella.  And then, while I was thumbing through the latest Bon Appetit and saw Molly‘s recipe for clereiac salad, I knew we had  a complete meal. When I asked Isaac what he thought, I think he actually did a little jig.

I didn’t have hazlenut oil on hand, so at Isaac’s urging I made a vinaigrette centered around the beautiful preserved Meyer lemons that  Christina had sent us (actually, she sent us the lemons and I preserved them, but I always think of them as Christina’s preserved lemons).  And then we sat and waited.  The lasagna came out and sat on the stove, and we stared at it, willing it to be cool enough to cut into.

Ten minutes later it was time, and honestly, I have to tell you, meat lasagna holds no sway over me, but vegetable lasagna?  Swoon.  We had this twice for dinner as leftovers this week, and I could easily eat it every night again for a week or more. It is so good.  The salad was also nice, but I think I had my ratios off.  It needed more apple and fennel and less celery root.  But no matter, because dinner wasn’t in anyway the most memorable thing about Saturday night.

Because after all the dishes were done and I was snuggled up tight on the couch in my pajamas surfing the web, Isaac handed me a little box and asked me to marry him.  Of course, I said yes.


To make the lasagna:

Peel one large or two small butternut squash and chop into approximately one inch sized pieces.  Toss in a baking dish with olive oil, salt a few cloves of squashed, peeled garlic and the leaves of a sprig of rosemary. Roast at 350ºF until soft and mashable.  Mash and allow to cool.  Mix in a few spoonfuls of really good ricotta. Salt to taste

Sautee a bunch or two of chard (leaves sliced into ribbons, stems chopped, everything washed) in olive oil with garlic and lots of chili flakes until crisp-tender.  Allow to cool.

Cook 12 large, sliced crimini mushrooms in olive oil with lots of garlic and a little water until very soft, then allow water to cook off over medium-high heat until the mushrooms become lightly caramelized.

To assemble the lasagna spread a layer of tomato sauce (homemade or very good store-bought) on the bottom of a dish.  Add a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles, spread more sauce on.  Add a layer of chard and a layer of fresh mozarella.  Add another layer of noodles, top with squash, then some chard.  Add another layer of noodles, add more sauce, add more squash. Add another layer of noodles, more sauce, and then the mushrooms. Top with more mozzarella, more sauce, and finally some freshly grated cheese.

Bake until golden-brown, bubbling and delicious.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy!


21 Responses to “The Root Of The Matter”

  1. Margaret February 26, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    What a twist! Congratulations to you both as I attempt to hide jealousy of your wonderful situation… and maybe make that spaghetti squash version before my boyfriend leaves to go home to Colorado…

  2. Nathalie February 26, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Congratulations to you both – a lovely way to propose too may I say, no amateur dramatics!

  3. Miriam February 26, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Nice surprise ending!

    That sounds like a lovely version of lasagna. I have a long-term love affair with butternut squash, but the spaghetti squash idea doesn’t sound like I should miss trying it.

  4. Christine February 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    Congratulations! I love the ring, sapphire? Very pretty! I was lobbying for an emerald myself, but the husband insisted on the traditional. I’ll have to lobby for an anniversary ring down the lines me thinks.

    I was very very excited about the lasagna and this totally eclipsed it. Yay!

  5. Adrienne February 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Oh! Oh! Ohhhh! Congratulations! That is such wonderful news.

    Ok, now to go back and read the recipe, which I skipped in my excitement :)

  6. noblenourishment February 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Congratulations :) that recipe looks stunning, wouldn’t even miss the meat!

  7. heather February 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    oh my gosh – congratulations! i don’t even know you and I got all excited! and the way you slipped it into that post was oh so sneaky…

  8. Lindsay February 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Congratulations! :)

  9. Lucy February 27, 2010 at 1:42 am #


  10. Christina February 27, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    Congratulations! All the best to you!

  11. Jennifer Hess February 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Wow, congratulations to you both! And what a gorgeous ring it is :D

  12. ann February 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Wow!!! Thank you everybody! I wasn’t sure quite how to break the news, so I tried the twist ending, guess it worked :-) Christine, it is a sapphire. I would have been quite happy with a normal old rock, but he wanted something special. I’m glad he got his way! Wow, seriously overwhelmed, thanks ya’ll!

  13. Christina February 27, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    Happy happy happy happy happy! Such great news!

    I love squash lasagna, but I’ve never done it with chard. We’ll, I’ve got a huge calabaza on the back patio waiting still from this fall’s harvest, and it is chard mania around here now. So ECG watch out: green stuff and no meat, all in one meal. I’m looking forward to it.

  14. Julia February 27, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    What a lovely, and yes, sneaky, end to your post! Congratulations, most sincerely and truly. It made me go, “awwww” out loud when I read your last sentence!

    And, before that, I was thinking how lovely your pictures were and how incredible that lasagna sounded. Of course, he proposed! Why every wouldn’t he?

  15. Will B February 28, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    HEYYY!!!! COOL!!! Congratulations and all the best to you both.

  16. Katie Peek February 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Hooray for you both!

  17. Brooke March 1, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Congratulations! :)

    Maybe if I make this for my boy, I’ll get a similar response… ;)

  18. Julie March 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    I was going to comment about how much I preferred a vegetarian lasagna to a meal lasagna and how delicious your version sounded but then I got to your last paragraph, and forget the lasagna!

    How wonderful you and Isaac are getting married, and that ring is beautiful. Congratulations to you both!

  19. ann March 5, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    More huge enormous thanks everybody!! Sorry for no new post this week, I feel like I’ve fallen off a cliff into some sort of bizzaro bride world :-) I’ll surface soon. I hope! :-)

  20. Alisa March 6, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    Wow! Congratulations to you both!

  21. Andrea March 8, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    How wonderful, dinner and a lifetime!

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