Recipe tip: this recipe is designed to feed a crowd and is either inexpensive OR time saving OR both. Many of these will be freezable so could be made in advance, or made in bulk for immediate and future use.
This alternative to traditional lasagne is so rich and tasty it will be popular even with the most committed carnivores. There’s no getting away from the fact that lasagne takes time to prepare – we estimate 30-40 minutes for this recipe to be oven-ready, but the end result is worth it.
Also, it can be stored in the fridge for up to two days, ready and waiting at your convenience. Instead of layers of bolognaise, béchamel and pasta, this recipe layers pasta with bacon flavoured squash and a rich mushroom and cheese sauce. There’s also an option for including chestnuts – these will add body and nuttiness but they are not essential.
300g back bacon, rind removed and cut into 2 cm strips
Splash flavourless oil
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and sliced into slices the thickness of a pound coin
200g whole cooked peeled chestnuts (optional), roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 x 290g tin sliced mushrooms, drained
400g mushrooms, sliced
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
200g soft cream cheese
Approx 60g grated Parmesan
8 sheets dried lasagne, approx 160g
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a high heat.
- Add the bacon to the pan and allow to brown. Turn down the heat if it starts burning. Once the bacon has started to crisp, stir in the spring onions and let them soften for a few minutes.
- Next, add the squash, mix well and stir for about two minutes.
- Add the chestnuts, if using, stir again and then add the lemon juice and just enough water to cover everything in the pan.
- Bring the water to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently until the squash is just cooked – you should just be able to slip a sharp knife into it.
- While the squash is cooking, start the mushroom sauce. Melt the butter in a pan with a lid over a medium heat.
- Add the tinned mushrooms, stir them for a couple of minutes, turn the heat up and then stir in the rest of the mushrooms.
- Put the lid on the pan, turn the heat down and let the mushrooms soften for about 5 minutes.
- When softened, sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, stir well and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the milk. Stir vigorously until the milk warms and the flour dissolves. Allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring now and again, until it’s thickened slightly. Next, add the cream cheese, all but 2 tbsp of the Parmesan, take the pan off the heat and stir well.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan oven), gas 6.
- Cover the base of a large, ovenproof dish with a layer of pasta.
- Spoon over half the squash mixture, then half the mushroom sauce.
- Add another layer of pasta, squash and mushroom mixture.
- Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes until bubbling and golden.