autumnal chicken and butternut squash lasagne


lasagne is a favourite meal when the weather is cold and something warming and comforting is required. traditional lasagne, or a veggie version, are regular meals for us at this time of year but i fancied trying something new and have been thinking about different takes on the dish.

this, coupled with the fact that we needed to use up various things before going away to paris saw the creation of a chicken and butternut squash lasagne which was stashed in the freezer until this week.

this lasagne, like the veggie version, is much lighter than the more traditional meaty version, despite having quite a high proportion of pasta to filling. the chicken is lightly cooked in a herby tomato sauce and then layered between pasta sheets with some roasted butternut squash and torn mozzarella. topped with a white sauce flavoured with nutmeg, it all came together really well to create a slightly sweet, gently flavoured supper.

so well in fact that a dish originally intended for four didn’t get beyond david and i… that’ll be salad for supper tomorrow i think!

this dish is my contribution to presto pasta nights, as hosted by ruth at once upon a feast.

chicken and butternut squash lasagne (serves, ahem, 4)

1 butternut squash

olive oil

3 teaspoons of fresh oregano

salt & pepper

3 skinless chicken breasts

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

40g butter

25g plain flour

1 pint milk

fresh grated nutmeg

no-cook lasagne sheets

2 balls of mozzarella, torn into small pieces

preheat the oven to 200c.

wash the butternut squash, halve and cut into 2cm cubes – you don’t need to peel it. drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of oregano, season with salt and pepper and roast until it is just tender. leave to cool.

chop the chicken breasts into small pieces – no larger than 1cm. heat a tablespoon of olive oil, add the garlic and when you can start to smell it add the chicken and cook until the meat is sealed. add the tomatoes and herbs and bubble for 5-10 minutes – you want the sauce to still be quite wet.

meanwhile, make the white sauce – melt the butter and then stir in the flour. let the roux cook for a minute then add the milk, a little at a time, stirring well so it is incorporated into the roux before you add the next bit (i do this with the pan on the heat, some people prefer to do this away from the hob). when all the milk has been added, bring the sauce back to the boil, stirring all the time, as the sauce thickens. when the sauce begins to bubble take it off the heat and add a grating of fresh nutmeg, tasting so that you add enough.

in a 30cm square lasagne dish add a small layer of the chicken and tomato sauce (use about one third of the mixture, don’t worry if it doesn’t completely cover the bottom of the dish). top with a layer of lasagne and top this with half the roasted butternut squash and half a ball of mozzarella. add another layer of lasagne, followed by chicken and tomato sauce. top this with the remaining butternut squash and half a ball of mozzarella. add another layer of lasagne, top with the remaining chicken and tomato sauce which is then topped with a final layer of pasta before pouring over the white sauce and finishing with the final ball of mozzarella.

bake at 200c for 45 minutes and serve with a green salad and some garlic bread. this dish freezes well.