So, how many of you made the roasted squash and caramelized leeks yesterday? You’re in for a real treat if you did. It’s time to finish off this recipe. Oh baby! Is it ever gonna be good!
But first, let me tell you about the inspiration behind this one, including a little plug/review for a local restaurant in my Philly neighborhood, Mt. Airy. I don’t often go out to eat – this blog keeps me well-fed almost every night of the week – so it was a treat to visit Citrus, a 26 seat BYOB cooking up seasonal “new American” fare in a cafe-style decor. I’ve been here before and waited in the long line caused by the “no reservations” policy. If the food wasn’t so darn good, I wouldn’t have returned due to such a long wait. But this time around it proved fortunate to be an early bird when we arrived around 5:30 and had our pick of any seat in the house. Service was relatively quick and attentive with little competition for the servers’ time (although as the place filled up, we did start to suffer from longer waits for refills and to order dessert). We took a bottle of pear wine I’d purchased in Maine with us, which proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the butternut squash and goat cheese lasagna I ordered. Dessert was delicious as well with apple dumplings and an old-fashioned chocolate layer cake with vanilla ice cream. Yum!
I’d give Citrus four stars out of five this time around – to get the fifth star, they’d need a larger menu. Then again, if all of the entrées were as good as mine and my dining partners’, quality could very well trump quantity. I’ll just have to make another visit soon to further investigate.
So anyway, that lasagna at Citrus was divine with its silky smooth slightly sweet squash sauce and warm tangy goat cheese; I immediately got it into my head that I wanted to recreate this dish at home. Never one to just leave a good dish be, I decided to roast the squash (instead of baking it) and to add the caramelized leeks to the mix. I’ll call this recreation a success, although next time I think I’d thin the sauce out a bit more to lighten it overall. Another addition I tried was dark chocolate truffle buttons to garnish, but I ended up putting them to the side when I was eating it as the combination didn’t quite hit the mark like I had hoped. Live and learn, right?
Now that I have this butternut squash sauce in my repertoire, I’m trying to think of other ways to use it. What dishes come to mind for you?
Caramelized Leeks and Herbed Goat Cheese Lasagna with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce
10 ounce log of plain goat cheese
2 T. finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice
1 pint of light cream
1 c. vegetable stock
generous pinch of salt and pepper
2 c. roasted butternut squash
2 c. caramelized leeks
6 lasagna noodles (the kind you boil)
2 pie plates or oven-safe dishes
Chop fresh herbs such as marjoram, basil, dill, rosemary, and oregano (I used every herb I had in the house, but you can just stick with one or two if you’d like). Spread out the chopped herbs on the cutting board and roll the log of plain goat cheese over them to create the herbed goat cheese. Wrap the log up in some plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Blend together the roasted squash to create a creamy liquid – add a little cream as needed to loosen it up. Place blended squash in a small saucepan and heat over very low heat. Once it’s warmed and loosened up by the heat a little bit, stir in equal parts of the light cream and vegetable stock until it is the desired consistency – I’d suggest thick enough to coat the spatula but not much more than that. Continue to heat on a low setting until quite warm and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Boil the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, drain, and then cut in half (unless you’ve been lucky enough to find square noodles). Set out goat cheese, caramelized leeks and sauce to begin assembly of the lasagna. Butter or spray a pie pan or other oven-safe serving dish and lay out two lasagna noodle halves side by side to create a square. Top with about 2 tablespoons of goat cheese, 1/2 cup of leeks, and 2 tablespoons or so of sauce. Lay two more noodle halves on top of the filling. Repeat layering of cheese, leeks, and sauce. Lay two more noodle halves on top and spread about a 3/4 cup of sauce over the whole thing (enough to coat everything but not too much more than that as this sauce is very rich).
Preheat oven to 325 F and repeat process for a second lasagna. Place both lasagnas in the oven and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until sauce is bubbly and everything is warmed through. Serve immediately, garnished with a sprinkle of grated cinnamon and a sprig of fresh herb if so desired.