When company's coming and you want to fuss a little bit...
I fricking love Emeril. Seriously, he has never let me down. And you know who loves him more than me? The Hubby. He gets very excited when Emeril is on Top Chef, and very excited when we have gone to his restaurant NOLA (where we purchased a cookbook), and also very excited to eat anything that comes from an Emeril cookbook...including this lasagna, which quite frankly I was worried about serving to him.
Maybe it was the cooked apple (The Hubby hates 'warm fruit,' including in pies). Or maybe it was the butternut squash (he doesn't really enjoy butternut squash when it's 'cube-shaped'...seriously, you can't make this stuff up). Or maybe it was the cinnamon and hazelnuts (these would definitely be weird ingredients in a lasagna in The Hubby's eyes, and fair enough). As I was preparing to dice the apple to cook it with the fennel, sausage, and onion, I was a little nervous that he would walk into the kitchen and see what was happening. I even directed him to a different part of the house, which worked for a little while, but of course he eventually did walk in...but somehow didn't notice! Phewf.
The night I made this lasagna, we had my parents over for dinner to celebrate something exciting that had happened in their life. Then The Hubby and I both had a piece of the lasagna for dinner for the two nights after that, which says a lot because both of us absolutely hate leftovers. The recipe makes a huge lasagna. The flavours in it cannot be beat, and make for the perfect fall or winter meal. This is a recipe that I will make again and again, but for special occasions only because of the time involved in making it due to the long list of (necessary, delicious, and perfectly complementary) ingredients. The Hubby and I both gobbled it up! I used gluten-free no-boil / oven-ready lasagna noodles as a substitute for the regular wheat noodles that the recipe calls for. I also couldn't find fresh marjoram, so I replaced it with thyme, which seemed to do the trick.
Oh, and obviously after The Hubby exclaimed how much he liked the lasagna I told him that there was apple in it. Muahahah. To be honest though, you couldn't actually taste the apple.
Anyways, congratulations to my parents. And congratulations to Emeril on being The Hubby's and my favourite chef, and for inventing this amazing lasagna.
Enjoy! We did. :)
Serves: 8 - 10
- 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups small-diced onion
- 1 cup small-diced fennel
- 1 cup peeled, cored, and small-diced Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apple
- 1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram leaves (I substituted for fresh thyme)
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted hazelnuts
- 1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, grated (4 cups)
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles (I used gluten-free)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butternut squash with the extra-virgin olive oil, cinnamon, thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the pepper and toss to coat the squash. Transfer the squash to a large baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil.
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil, onion, fennel, apple, sausage, and marjoram and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sausage has browned and the vegetables have softened. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl, and set aside to cool. Gently fold the squash into the vegetable-sausage mixture.
In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, heavy cream, beaten eggs, half of the mozzarella, and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Mix well to combine, then add the cooled brown-butter-sage-hazelnut mixture and mix thoroughly.
mixture in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan, drizzle 1⁄4 cup of the stock over the top, and cover with 4 pasta sheets, leaving a little space between sheets. Spread 3 cups of the ricotta cheese mixture over the pasta sheets and cover with 4 more pasta sheets. Distribute the remaining half of the butternut squash mixture over the pasta, sprinkle the top with 1⁄4 cup of the remaining Parmesan, and drizzle with the remaining 1⁄4 cup stock. Place the final 4 pasta sheets over the top and spread the remaining ricotta mixture evenly over the pasta. Top with the remaining grated mozzarella and 1⁄4 cup Parmesan.
Recipe Source: Emeril's Sizzing Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders