In my experience, this dish is loved by all: herbivores and omnivores, root vegetable enthusiasts and root vegetable skeptics, Catholics and Protestants, Democrats and Republicans. I have served it many times, and it has yet to meet less than laudative reviews. Though Gruyere cheese is not what most would consider "economical," it can be subsituted with a cheaper Swiss. This dish makes for a dramatic and impressive entree or side dish at a dinner party, and, if you consider that it can generously feed 9 people, it's relatively inexpensive. It looks particularly festive when garnished with a pretty arrangement of sage and rosemary leaves.
Autumnal Lasagna with Sage Bechamel and Gruyere (renamed and adapted considerably from Cooking Light)
Serves 9 as main course; halve the recipe for one and you can eat well for a few days. It tastes great reheated in the microwave.
2/3 C all-purpose flour
6 C milk (any kind will do)
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/3 C chopped fresh sage
2 T finely chopped shallots (if you don't feel like buying both shallots and onions, just chop an extra 2 T of onions)
1/2 t salt
1 bay leaf
1 T olive oil, divided
2.5 C finely chopped onions
3 minced garlic cloves
2/3 lb. spinach (or 1 10-oz. bag of spinach)
3 C cubed, peeled sweet potato
3 C cubed, peeled butternut squash
1 t nutmeg
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 T olive oil
1 C shredded Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese
1 C grated Parmesan
12 precooked lasagna noodles
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange lasagna noodles in 13" x 9" baking dish, and add enough water to cover. To prepare bechamel, add flour to Dutch oven over low heat and gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Add onion, sage, shallots, salt, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook one minute or until thick. Strain bechamel through sieve and discard solids. Set aside.
To prepare Filling 1, heat 1/2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Add salt and spinach. Spinach may not all fit at once, so add what will fit and add more as it cooks down. Add salt and pepper to taste; set aside once all is cooked through.
To prepare Filling 2, toss sweet potato, butternut squash, nutmeg, cayenne, and olive oil into any baking pan and bake for 15 minutes (this can be done before you begin work on Filling 1). Remove from oven and add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine cheeses; set aside.
Now, it's time to assemble the lasagna:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread about 3/4 C bechamel in bottom of greased 13" x 9" baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles over baking dish; top with half of sweet potato/squash mixture, 1.5 C bechamel, and sprinkle with cheese mixture (about 1/3 C). Top with 3 noodles, spinach mixture, 1.5 C bechamel, and sprinkle with cheese mixture. Top with 3 noodles, remaining sweet potato/squash mixture, 1.5 C bechamel, and 3 noodles. Spread remaining bechamel over noodles. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with remaining cheese; bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.