real life test kitchen: parmesan and root vegetable lasagna

Cooking Light magazine offers a delicious twist on traditional lasagna. This dish layers roasted butternut squash and sweet potato with a creamy white cheese sauce, lasagna noodles and shredded mozzarella. Though the prep time isn’t quick, it is certainly easy. If you roast off the veggies the night before like I did, the rest of the dish can be prepped in under 30 minutes. Serve with a lightly dressed salad or simple green vegetable to counter the sweetness. Click below for the full recipe. — Erica P.

Parmesan and Root Vegetable Lasagna
Serves 10

– 6 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
– 2 1/4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 pound)
– 2 cups coarsely chopped onion, divided
– 1 tablespoon olive oil (NOTE: I used a bit more. This is a magazine dedicated to healthy eating so they keep their use of fats to a minimum.)
– Cooking spray
– 4 cups 1% low-fat milk
– 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 bay leaf
– 1.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
– 1/2 teaspoon salt (NOTE: I thought the end result was a bit sweet for my tastes. I will use a full teaspoon of salt when I make this dish again)
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
– 9 packaged no-boil lasagna noodles
– 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (NOTE: I used an entire 8 ounce package of shredded mozzarella. More cheese can’t hurt, right?!)

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Combine squash, potato, 1 cup chopped onion, and oil in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray, tossing to coat vegetables. (NOTE: I’ve learned to never leave anything unseasoned. I sprinkled the vegetables with a bit of kosher salt and some black pepper before baking.) Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring once; set aside.

3. Combine remaining 1 cup onion, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Return milk mixture to pan. (NOTE: the magazine noted the importance of cleaning the pan well before refilling it with the milk mixture.) Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour, salt, and pepper to milk mixture, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently with a whisk. Remove from heat; stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

4. Preheat oven to 375°.

5. Spread 1/2 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with half of squash mixture, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and 1 cup milk mixture. Repeat layer with noodles, squash mixture, mozzarella, and milk mixture. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spread remaining milk mixture over noodles, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

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