A Cozy Thanksgiving: Autumn Lasagna, Familiar Yet Different

A Cozy Thanksgiving: Autumn Lasagna, Familiar Yet Different post image

Do you ever find yourself in a place where even though the people and the things around you and the activities that you’re doing day to day are completely familiar, life just somehow feels a little different? That when you think about it, you really can’t point to any obvious reason to feel more vulnerable or self-aware than usual, but still, you do? Do you ever feel like you’re seeing things differently than before, or perhaps digesting situations and reacting to them in a new way? I feel a bit like I’ve been experiencing that in these past couple of weeks. Like I’m in the process of moving into a new spiritual place, stepping from the plateau that I’m currently on, and onto the next one that’s slightly higher up, my footing a bit wobbly as I make my transition. I feel like the ever-so minute changes that take place in my life, the ones that very quietly happen in a way akin to a growth spurt taking place in a child’s physical form, that you don’t notice until you get out the measuring tape and compare the marks on the door jamb, are making themselves known to me. Truth be told, this way that I’m feeling isn’t completely new to me; every now and then, I experience it when there’s internal growth, spiritual growth, and a glimpse of the fruit of its quiet labor is revealed. And with the beautiful and colorful autumn season upon us, and another year’s Thanksgiving holiday just around the bend, it seems like the perfect time to get a little introspective and bring the “familiar yet different” together in the spirit of gratitude.

Autumn Lasagna

Reflective states of mind are wonderful when it comes to being creative with food; and funny enough, at least for me, a meal can often times contain an essence of how I’m feeling internally and reflect that. Now, I’m beginning to crave using familiar ingredients in new and different ways, and mercifully with food, there are no boundaries; the only requirement is that it tastes good. For me, lasagna is that classic, familiar comfort food for which the possibilities are endless when it comes to preparing it in a different and creative way. It’s a cozy and comforting alternative for the Thanksgiving table, lending itself so well to the variety of different ingredients that this season offers up. Bright, roasted butternut squash has a silky-smooth consistency when pureed and makes for an incredible and unique sauce when combined with roasted garlic and a touch of cream. Seasoned ground turkey with fresh sage offers up a traditional Thanksgiving ingredient that when paired along with spinach, rich mozzarella and all the rest, creates a comforting, rustic and seasonal take on one of my personal favorite meals to share. What a tasty demonstration of “familiar yet different” coming together and dwelling deliciously on the Thanksgiving Day plate.

Autumn Lasagna

Autumn Lasagna

The more I think about it, the more comfortable I get with this idea of something seeming familiar yet different all at the same time. It implies that changes are most likely in the midst of taking place, and that growth and maturity continues to occur in my life. I’ve always thought of the idea of change being the only constant in life as a very encouraging one, and though I may experience some vulnerability and uncertain footing as I climb to the next level of life, at least it’s progress; it’s ascension up the ladder of life. And I can’t think of a more comforting way of bringing the “familiar yet different” together, than sharing some gooey, rich Autumn Lasagna with others at my Thanksgiving table.

Taste what’s good and pass it on.

Ingrid

Autumn Lasagna

Autumn Lasagna with Creamy, Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Sauce, Seasoned Ground Turkey, Sage, Spinach and Mozzarella Cheese
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(Serves about 10-12)

Ingredients:

Olive oil for drizzling
1 ¼ lb. ground turkey
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh sage leaves
12 lasagna noodles, cooked
Creamy Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Sauce (recipe below)
4 cups fresh, baby spinach leaves
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preparation:

-Preheat the oven to 350, and have a 12”x10”x2” (roughly) baking dish on hand.

-Place a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat, and add about 2 tablespoons worth of olive to the pan; once the oil gets hot, add the ground turkey into the pan, and break up the meat with a spatula or spoon; next, add in the Italian seasoning, the salt, pepper and the garlic, and stir to incorporate; cook the turkey for a few minutes until cooked through and no longer pink; remove from heat and stir in the fresh sage; set aside to slightly cool.

-To assemble the lasagna, begin by adding about 1 cup of the Butternut Squash Sauce to the bottom of the baking dish; next, add 4 of the cooked lasagna noodles over the sauce, and then add another 2 cups of the sauce over top of the noodles; next, add about half of the cooked, ground turkey, followed by 2 cups of the baby spinach leaves, and drizzle lightly with  some olive oil; next, sprinkle over about 1 cup worth of the mozzarella cheese; repeat the layering process by once again adding 4 lasagna noodles, 2 cups of sauce, the remainder of the ground turkey and the remaining 2 cups of baby spinach leaves, along with a drizzle of olive oil and another sprinkle of about 1 cup worth of the cheese; finish the lasagna by adding the remaining 4 lasagna noodles, and the remaining sauce over top; smooth out the sauce over the noodles, and finish the by sprinkling the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese over the top; add the remaining ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning over the cheese, and place the lasagna into the 350 degree oven to bake for roughy 30-35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly golden; serve while hot.

Creamy, Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Sauce ingredients:

3 heads garlic, tops cut off
• Olive oil for drizzling
3 teaspoons salt, plus a pinch, divided use
4 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I used 4, 1lb. packages pre-cut squash)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chicken stock, warm
2 cups half and half, warm
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

(*This sauce can be made ahead if desired, and kept refrigerated.)

Preparation:

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

-Drizzle a little olive oil over the 3 heads of garlic, and sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt over top, as well; wrap each head of garlic tightly in foil, and place the heads directly onto the rack of the oven (on the side) to roast; once the garlic heads have roasted for about 10 minutes, toss together the cubed butternut squash with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the black pepper; turn the squash out onto the lined baking sheet, and place it into the oven next to the garlic heads, to roast along side for about 30-35 minutes, or until the squash is very tender (the total roasting time for the garlic will end up being about 40-45 minutes); once the squash is tender, remove from the oven, along with the heads of garlic, and allow the squash and garlic heads to cool slightly, so they can be handled; once slightly cooled, squeeze the cloves of garlic from the whole heads, and mash lightly with a fork (they should be very tender and sweet), and set aside; next, add about 1/3 of the roasted squash into the bowl of a food processor (you will work in about 3 batches), and process with about 1/3 of the roasted garlic, until smooth and pureed; turn the processed squash/garlic into a large pot, and repeat the pureeing process with the remaining squash/garlic and turn that out into the pot once pureed, as well.

-Place the pot with the pureed squash/garlic onto low heat, and add in the warm chicken stock and the warm half and half, and carefully whisk or stir to completely incorporate; next, add in the mascarpone cheese, the Parmesan and the remaining 3 teaspoons of salt, and once again stir/whisk to combine, until the mascarpone and Parmesan are blended in completely; remove the sauce from the heat and set aside until ready to use for the lasagna. (If making ahead, cool the sauce completely, and refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna, at which time you can gently re-heat it stove-top.)




{ 35 comments… add one }

  • Julia November 5, 2012, 6:44 am

    I love this twist on lasagna. I have only made the traditional lasagna but I think you just inspired me to try something new! Have a great Monday.

  • Lynda Rice November 5, 2012, 11:37 am

    Wow, this is a beautiful change for a lasagna dish. Perfect dish to share with my group of ladies this month!

  • Kari@Loaves n Dishes November 7, 2012, 2:32 pm

    This lasagne looks so cozy, comforting, warm, and pretty. What great fall flavors, mmm, mmm, mmm.

  • Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum November 7, 2012, 9:22 pm

    This is so so so gorgeous. And that last picture is my favorite.

    • The Cozy Apron November 7, 2012, 10:07 pm

      Hi Lindsay, thank you so very much! And I must say that last pic is my favorite, as well; we totally got lucky with that shot, as Lola’s notorious for being camera shy!

  • angela November 11, 2012, 7:05 pm

    Wow, this was amazing. Would love other recipes from you.

    • The Cozy Apron November 11, 2012, 9:50 pm

      Hi Angela, thank you! I do hope you get the chance to peruse more of the recipes on the site to cook up!

  • Lisa November 12, 2012, 12:47 pm

    I made this Saturday night and I cannot tell you how much we LOVED it! Thank you so much! This recipe is a “keeper”!

    • The Cozy Apron November 12, 2012, 3:58 pm

      Hi Lisa, that’s great! It’s amazing the various uses for butternut squash, right?

  • tamara November 14, 2012, 1:19 am

    Cozy Apron, you are so original. Truly a departure from tradition.I can’t wait to try this.

  • J November 14, 2012, 12:13 pm

    Do you think I can use canned pureed butternut squash? I’m making two batches so I’m trying to keep costs down.

    • The Cozy Apron November 14, 2012, 7:33 pm

      Yes, by all means! There’s a chance that the color may not be quite as vibrant an orange, or the flavor as intense as the freshly roasted, but I think it should taste just fine if you add the other ingredients in.

  • Kelly November 15, 2012, 12:27 pm

    Can I make this ahead and freeze? At what point would you freeze the Lasagna? Cant wait to make this!

    • The Cozy Apron November 15, 2012, 1:51 pm

      Hi Kelly, yes you can; what I would do is prepare all of the components (the butternut squash/roasted garlic sauce, the lasagna noodles, the ground turkey)and allow them to completely cool; once cooled, I would just assemble the lasagna as if I were going to bake it, but I would just wrap it really well in foil and plastic wrap (to keep any freezer “smells” out), place it into the freezer, and then pull the frozen assembled lasagna out a couple of days before I want to bake it, allowing it to thaw in the fridge thoroughly; once thawed, take it out of fridge and allow the lasagna to come to room temp, and then bake as instructed.

  • J November 18, 2012, 2:04 pm

    what about cooking it ahead and reheating? i’m making two batches of this for thanksgiving and i have one oven with which to cook the entire meal – sides,breads, lasagna, etc. so i need to do what i can beforehand. any thought? thanks :)

    • The Cozy Apron November 18, 2012, 4:09 pm

      Yes, you may have to do just that – sound like you’ve got quite the undertaking with all the dishes/sides that will be vying for the oven. Here’s what I’d suggest: if it’s possible for the “easier” sides to get done first and then kept warm, then I’d probably do that so that I could keep the “main” dish, the lasagnas, piping hot and fresh; the lasagna seems like it may be tougher to “reheat” than something a little smaller. However, if that’s not possible, then bake them when you can, and keep them covered with foil in as warm a place as possible; then place them back into a “warm” oven to gently re-heat. Generally, lasagna keeps it’s heat fairly well, what with all the gooey cheese and sauce. Good luck, J!

  • domante stiklakyte November 20, 2012, 2:55 am

    I LOVE this recipie! Thank you so much! :-)

  • J November 23, 2012, 1:27 pm

    i made this for thanksgiving because we don’t eat meat and i like to have a substantial main entree for the meal. i made a veggie friendly version by using mushrooms instead of turkey. i also used a combo of cream cheese, cream and sour cream for the mascaropone since our local WF was selling it at $23.99/lb. This is not a cheap dish but it was worth it.

    i made the sauce the day before and tasted it with my husband. after one bite he suggested we just eat the whole pot like soup. it was amazing! the whole lasagna turned out so well i have been craving it ever since. i think this may become our yearly thanksgiving staple from now on. thank you so much for this over-the-top, decadent and absolutely delicious recipe.

    • The Cozy Apron November 23, 2012, 2:21 pm

      J, I’m so happy you’ve come back to let me know how it all turned out for you, and I’m thrilled that this dish ended up being one that was so enjoyed. I was truly touched at your comment that this could potentially become a yearly Thanksgiving staple – wow. Comments like yours are appreciated, and are the reason that I so very much enjoy sharing recipes with others! Thank you. (BTW, what kind of mascarpone was that – full of GOLD? That was pricy indeed! I actually buy mine in a smallish tub, like cream cheese, for about 3.99! Check the section next time where they have ricotta,etc to see if you can find the less expensive version – heck, I couldn’t be using that either if it cost that much!)

  • J September 16, 2013, 6:12 pm

    I’m not sure if you’ll see this update or not but here I am almost a year later and I’m already fielding requests for this dish. I will be making multiple dishes for multiple dinners and of course my own :)

    A million thanks!

    • The Cozy Apron September 17, 2013, 2:48 pm

      Hi J! Please know that I always get every comment, and I was so thrilled to see you back! :-) How wonderful that you’re getting requests for this recipe again; I’m so tickled by that! Funny enough, my hubby and I were just reminiscing about this very dish last weekend, saying that we, too, could go for it again sometime soon. (I’m just so excited that fall is almost here, as we are definitely fall people!) Hope you enjoy again – I’m sure you’re an expert at it by now, haha!

  • Kim October 27, 2013, 5:54 pm

    Maybe I’m misreading, but I don’t see where/when to add the sage.

    • The Cozy Apron October 27, 2013, 6:14 pm

      Hi Kim, I’m so sorry – you’re right! I forgot to add that step in the direction. Just add it right into your turkey after you’ve browned it – stir it in at the end so that it flavors it. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Sam P October 28, 2013, 12:31 am

    Thank you for the recipe! I made it for dinner tonight. It came out fantastic! I love the sauce! I made extra to put in the freeze. So next time it’s a lot faster!

    • The Cozy Apron October 28, 2013, 2:41 pm

      Sam, that’s a really great time saving idea – and I’m glad that the recipe turned out great for you! Thanks so much for taking a few moments to come back and comment on your experience!

  • Sarah November 24, 2013, 3:44 pm

    Looks great! I forgot to buy ricotta cheese though. Do you think it would still be good without it?

  • shanda July 15, 2014, 10:36 am

    I pretty much never comment on recipes or food blogs but I just had to tell you how amazing this recipe is! It was SO delicious! I didn’t change anything (and I’m usually one to make up my own version as I go along…) amazing dish! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe! I have a feeling this will be a dish that I make for many years to come! Thank you!

    • The Cozy Apron July 15, 2014, 12:33 pm

      Shanda, I really appreciated your comments—thank you so much! I’m so excited that you enjoyed this recipe “as is”, and that you plan on preparing it again and again. And who knows; perhaps you will end up tweaking it in some way over time, which’ll make it unique to you! Thanks for commenting.

  • Sarah August 22, 2014, 10:08 am

    I made this last night and it turned out great! Surprisingly great. I had thirds great. I had to make a few substitutions, though. I only used 6 noodles instead of 12. I put frozen spinach in the creamy butternut sauce instead of a layer of fresh baby spinach. I used a spiced butternut squash puree I made and froze last fall, so I think it had more spices in it. Cumin comes to mind. I didn’t have any mascarpone cheese, so I just skipped that. Lastly, I didn’t have any half and half or cream, so I used half plain yogurt and half milk. It came together quickly since I had the butternut squash puree already made. Thanks for the recipe!

    • The Cozy Apron August 23, 2014, 7:54 am

      Beautiful, Sarah! I especially love the fact that you used a butternut squash puree that you had already made and froze last fall—this was a perfect recipe for it! (And it had your own personal “touches” in it, which is great!) Thanks so much for taking a moment to share your experience with this recipe, and I’m very happy that you enjoyed it enough to have thirds, haha!

  • Lisa September 11, 2014, 1:06 pm

    What does half and half warm mean lol sry if it’s a silly question.

    • The Cozy Apron September 11, 2014, 7:25 pm

      Hi Lisa, “half & half” like what people use in their coffee, but warm, not cold out of the fridge. Hope that explains it! :-)

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