Comfort Food

Years ago, my friend Jennie Merrill shared a version of this easy, Keto-friendly make-ahead crowd pleaser would be an excellent choice if you dare to entertain for Halloween. It makes for flavorful use of use of the abundant butternut squash and kale that are currently available on the cheap in markets. It freezes well so consider making extra in disposable pans for sharing, potlucks, or later use.

Autumn Butternut Squash, Kale, and Sausage Lasagna 

Serves 8-10

1 medium butternut squash 

1/2 tablespoon olive oil 

6 fresh sage leaves 

5 link sausages (1 pound), casings removed, sausage chopped or crumbled (I used a chicken and apple sausage with sage), see NOTES

5 packed cups chopped kale, see NOTES

3 cloves of garlic, minced 

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1 large shallot, minced 

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese 

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not shredded) 

1 large egg, beaten 

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, see NOTES

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF degrees. 

2. Cut the bottom off the butternut squash (the seeded part.) Slice the top off to ensure that it is perfectly flat. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half, widthwise, scrape out the seeds, and slice the squash into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside

3. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the sage leaves and cook until crispy, taking care not to burn. Transfer the sage leaves to a small paper towel-lined plate and set aside. 

4. Immediately crumble in the sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, 5-7 minutes. Then, add the kale, garlic, red pepper flakes, ground sage, and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. If the kale is not breaking down add a little water to the pan and cover.

5. While the sausage mixture is cooking, add the ricotta, Parmesan, and egg to a bowl. Whisk together and set aside. 

6. Once the sausage is cooked, gather all prepared ingredients.  Cover the bottom of a 4.2 quart or 9-X-13-inch casserole dish with a layer of the butternut squash. Add a layer of the kale and sausage mixture, then top with a layer of the ricotta mixture. Top with a layer of butternut squash, then a layer of the kale and sausage mixture, then a layer of ricotta mixture. Add a final layer of butternut squash, then, top with shredded Gruyere cheese. 

7. Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Peel back the foil and poke a fork into the top layer of squash. If it yields easily, it is done. If not, bake another 5 minutes then test again. 

8. Remove the dish from oven and discard the foil. Place the casserole under a low broiler and cook until lightly browned and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately scatter the reserved sage leaves atop. Rest for 5 minutes then carefully cut the lasagna into equal portions.

  1. If you are trying to get more vegetables into your diet this is a good place to do it. I have sweated down an entire giant, family-sized bag of kale for use in this dish.
  2. Hate kale? Spinach, collard, or mustard greens can be used interchangeably.
  3. Pretty much any type of sausage can be used- Andouille, Italian, chicken, plant-based.
  4. Gruyere cheese is pricey. For a more economical dish use shredded Swiss, mozzarella, or Cheddar. The flavor profile will be different, but the dish is very forgiving and adaptable. It will still be delicious.


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