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Chef Peter Berley's Lasagna of Fall Vegetables, Sage Bechamel, and Gruyere

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Chef Peter Berley, the author of The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers and Everyone In Between, is not a fan of Tofurkey.

"Tofurkey, I think, is an unfortunate thing in the sense that it leaves very little to the imagination really," he said.

As an alternative, he recommends vegetarians make Lasagna of Fall Vegetables, Sage Bechamel, and Gruyere for their Thanksgiving main. Try out Berley's recipe below.



Lasagna of Fall Vegetables, Sage Bechamel, and Gruyere
Adapted from The Flexitarian Table, Houghton Mifflin,  
Copyright 2007 By Peter Berley
Serves 8    

For the noodles:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

For the bechamel:

  • 1 quart milk
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour

For the vegetable filling:

  • 3 pounds Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 11/2 pounds Portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 dried ancho chilis, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, diced about 21/2-3 cups
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 pounds spinach, washed and tough stems discarded
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese coarsely grated
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese finely grated

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork.

Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the egg mixture and pulse until the dough comes together in a mass. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes. Test the dough by inserting the tip of a clean forefinger. If the dough sticks to your finger add a bit more flour and knead until smooth.

Wrap the dough in plastic and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature ( the dough can be made up to 3 days ahead if kept refrigerated, bring to room temperature before proceeding).

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Work with 1 piece at a time and keep the remaining wrapped to prevent drying.  Roll each piece on a hand cranked pasta machine to the finest setting. Cut the noodles to fit the length of your lasagna pan. Lay the pieces on floured wax or parchment paper without touching each other. As each piece of paper is filled top it with another lightly floured piece and set noodles on top repeat until all the noodles are rolled.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl toss the squash and mushrooms with 21/2 tablespoons olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Spread the mixture on a jellyroll pan (11x17 inch rimmed baking sheet) and roast 25-30 minutes until tender stirring twice.

Meanwhile, cut open the chilies with kitchen shears and discard the seeds and stems. Place the chilies in a small bowl and cover the with boiling water, set aside until soft, 8-10 minutes. Drain and finely chop.

Saute the onion in butter with 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until softened. Stir in the chilis and garlic and sauté 3-4 minutes longer.

Return the roasted vegetables to the bowl and stir in the onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper. (The filling can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated).

Place the spinach in a pot and sweat covered until wilted. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Squeeze dry and roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Make the bechamel:

In a deep sauce pan bring the milk to a boil and immediately remove from the heat. Stir in the onion, shallots, sage and bay leaf. Cover the pan and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain and discard the solids.

Saute the flour in butter over medium heat stirring constantly until fragrant and a shade darker about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer, cook 20 minutes over low heat until thick.

The béchamel can be made up to 2 days ahead. Allow the sauce to cool then cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface before refrigerating.

Assemble and bake lasagna:

Spread 1 /4 of the béchamel on the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch lasagna pan or gratin dish. Make one layer of noodles slightly overlapping. Spread 1/2 over the vegetable mixture over the noodles and sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese mixture.

Make a second layer of pasta and top with 1/4 of the sauce then all of the chopped spinach and 1/4 of the cheese mixture.

Make a third layer of noodles and spread with 1/4 bechamel the remaining vegetables and 1/4 of the cheese mixture.

Make a fourth layer of noodles and spread with remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheese mixture.

Butter a piece of parchment paper and lay it buttered side down over the lasagna. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake 40 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment and bake 10-15 minutes until the lasagna is golden brown and bubbling. Allow the lasagna to rest for 10 minutes before serving.