A universal comfort food, lasagna is ever-changing. None more so than our new lasagna-pie, inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi. Like Most of his extraordinary recipes, meat is set aside for a mult-layered combination of aromatics, garlic, silky broken panels of pasta packed with creamy butternut squash and topped with buttery bechamel. It's a huge success, achieving a new gourmet standard for an everyday comfort food. This delicious lasagna-pie, served warm or at room temperature, makes for a wonderful display and taste extravaganza for a party or holiday table.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for garnish
8 garlic cloves, trimmed, chopped
2 tbsp quality tomato paste (Mutti is good)
1-1/2 tsp dried cumin
1-1/2 tsp dried coriander
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 roasted sweet red pepper, peeled and seeded after roasting (or store-bought jar)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, more to taste
1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved vertically, cored, cut in thin slices 1/8" thick (use mandolin if available)
225g store-bought smooth-edged pasta lengths or sheets, each broken into 4 to 5 pieces
225g fresh baby spinach or 1 pack frozen, thawed
1 cup feta, crumbled
3/4 cup fresh Parmesan, finely grated
Bechamel Sauce Topping:
3 tbsp unsalted butter (or substitute with 3 tbsp Butter olive oil)
1/3 cup flour
1-1/4 cups whole milk (or 2%)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan, finely grated
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9-inch springform pan. Line with parchment paper with enough to comfortably hang over the edge. You can use two sheets if your paper is not wide enough to fold over sides. Set aside.
On medium-high stovetop, add oil to a small skillet. When shimmering, add garlic, and cook, stirring for about 1 minute, being careful not to brown. Add tomato paste, dried spices and chile flakes. Stir for 1 minute. Add to food processor bowl along with red peppers, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
Place processed mixture in a very large bowl. Add squash, lasagna pieces, spinach, cheeses, and remaining 1-1/4 teaspoon salt. Combine with your hands until all ingredients are completely coated. One-third at a time, place in springform pan. After each third, pack tightly and even out. Do not worry if pasta cracks. Then tightly wrap and seal top, sides and bottom in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
Make Bechamel Sauce Topping:
Start making sauce about 10 minutes before pie is completed baked. On medium-high heat, melt butter in saucepan. Add flour gradually, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes until smooth. Reduce heat to medium. Add milk gradually while continuing to whisk until smooth. Replace whisk with rubber spatula and continue stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until completely thickened and smooth, careful to avoid browning the bottom. Remove from heat and gradually stir in Parmesan.
Assembly And Final Bake:
Remove pie from oven. Increase heat to 450 degrees. Unwrap foil by scrunching down sides of springform pan. Fold over any parchment from top of pie. Pour and spread bechamel sauce over top of pie. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove foil and springform round. Gently lift lasagna-pie with parchment to serving plate or cutting board. Remove parchment from sides. Serve in wedges at warm or room temperature. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil before serving.
Source: Adapted from multiple versions of Ottolenghi's Lasagna-Pie recipe, including but not limited to NYTimes Cooking.