The dinner party that Charles and I had attended at the aforementioned friends’ house had winded down. As we shared a bit of dessert and finished our wine, they shared with us their secret to cooking winter squash — the slow cooker. It’s easy, Bill told us, you just poke the squash with a fork a few times, stick it in the cooker — no water needed — turn it on low, and let it go.
Of course, I had to try it myself. I washed off an acorn squash, (it still had some farm dirt on it,) poked some holes in it with a fork, and stuck it in the slow cooker before I left for work. When I got home that afternoon, the house smelled heavenly, and the squash was cooked perfectly. So easy! Thanks to Joey and Bill’s tip, winter squash will now be a main ingredient in many a dinner in the months ahead.
My now cooked squash became the star of the evening meal, Acorn Squash Lasagna — one of my all-time favorite dishes. I’ve played with the recipe a few times over the years, tweaking it until I was perfectly happy with it. It’s savory and just a wee bit sweet and filling enough that a square will do you for your dinner requirements.
Pairing this lasagna has always been more of a challenge than cooking it, as the squash flavors and cheese flavors don’t always complement a wine well, but I finally found something that works wonderfully. It’s Ventana‘s Chardonnay, a wine that Charles had brought into the store on a vendor’s recommendation. He had brought home the last two bottles the week before. A side note — the psychology of shoppers is often interesting. Did you know that customers are uncomfortable with purchasing the last item on the shelf? Especially with wine and beer, that last bottle will just stand lonely on the shelf while people pass it by. Because of this, Charles often purchases the final hold-outs of wine vintages and seasonal beers. It works for us, as Charles stocks his shelves with excellent options, and our cellar becomes more and more diverse. But back to this particular pairing … the Ventana paired well, its creaminess rounding out the lasagna. Nutmeg characteristics in the glass were the perfect, seasonal accompaniment with the squash. The pairing just screams, “Autumn!”
1 acorn squash, cooked, seeds and skin removed
1/4 teaspoon dried, rubbed sage
salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces goat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
4 gluten-free lasagna noodles (I used Tinkyada Rice Lasagna)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook lasagna noodles to package directions. I broke mine in half to fit the baking dish nicely.
Rub butter along the insides of a square baking dish.
Mix squash with sage, salt and pepper.
Mix ricotta with egg.
Place two lasagna pieces in the bottom of the dish. Spread with half of the squash.
Place two lasagna pieces on top, and spread with half of the ricotta mixture.
Repeat the lasagna-squash step, then the lasagna-ricotta step.
Sprinkle the top of your creation with the Parmesan, cover the dish with foil, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 20 more minutes.