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This is definitely a leisurely Sunday-afternoon-in-the-kitchen lasagna. Lasagnas are always a bit time-consuming since each layering ingredient has to be prepared separately. This one is extra laborious because of the time it takes to process the squash and kale.

But, before you stop reading, I promise you it is totally worth it. Channel your inner Italian grandma, give over to the chopping and the dishes and the hot stove, and be rewarded by this sublime combination of toasted hazelnuts, sweet squash, spicy kale, and rich gruyere.

Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison.

Béchamel Sauce:

3-1/2 cups milk (any % but nonfat)
1 garlic clove
Bay leaf
Parsley sprig
Nutmeg
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper

Squash:

1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs)*
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
20 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

*When mine falls a little short I throw in some carrots to make up the difference.

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Kale:

2 bunches kale, washed (green, black, Tuscan, purple, whatever…)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt

Big bowl of purple kale

Big bowl of purple kale

Noodles, Cheese, etc:

1 8-ounce package no-boil lasagna (if using regular lasagna noodles instead, pour boiling water over them and soak for 15 minutes before layering in dish)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Start the sauce: slowly heat the milk with the garlic, bay leaf and parsley. When it’s nearly boiling, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let it stand until the squash is finished cooking.

Meanwhile, peel the squash and chop it into a rough dice about 1/2-inch across or less. Dice the onion. Toss both with olive oil in a 9 x 13 baking dish and set, uncovered, in the oven. Chop the garlic with the sage and parsley and toss into the dish when squash are 3/4 cooked. This is a good time to put the nuts in for light toasting, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Remove the dish from the oven when squash are fully cooked and starting to caramelize. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted squash

Roasted squash

While the squash is cooking, pull the kale leaves off and cut into strips. Heat oil in a large skillet, add garlic, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add pepper flakes and kale by the handful, cooking it down until it starts to wilt. Add salt and 1-2 cups of water. Cover and simmer on medium low until kale is fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Adjust salt and red pepper.

Finish the sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Pour the milk through a strainer into the roux, then whisk. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and the flour is cooked, 15 to 20 minutes. Add a few gratings of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

Assembled

Assembled

Assemble the lasagna: Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in a 9 x 13 baking dish (I wash and reuse the squash dish) and lay 3 noodles over it. Cover with half each of the squash mixture, nuts, and kale, 1 cup of the sauce, half of the gruyere and 1/3 of the Parmesan. Repeat, then add the third layer of noodles. Spread the rest of the sauce over them and top with the last 1/3 of Parmesan. Cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking until bubbly and golden, about 20 minutes longer.

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Serves 8.

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