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I know it is pretty far away, but I have been thinking about holiday dinners.  Over Christmas this year, I will be cooking for 16 people one night.  I want to make something delicious but I don’t want to spend all day cooking.  We will be at a rental house at the beach and I would prefer to spend that time outside or with the family and not in front of the stove.  I made my traditional lasagna for this group a few years ago and it was a hit, but I was not too excited about repeating the same meal.  And then I got a email with the recipe that I had been looking for.

Butternut Squash and Pork Lasagna

This lasagna does not use noodles, but instead, substitutes thinly sliced butternut squash.  My husband and niece are both gluten free so this recipe would work for everyone, and the pork ragu sounded really tasty.  And it was!  However, this recipe was so much more work that I had anticipated.

Layering the squash

I love butternut squash but I really do not like peeling or cutting it.  To make things more difficult, I bought a huge squash hoping to not have to peel more than one (I find bigger ones even more daunting).  I have a mandolin which made the slicing easy (but scary as I am convinced I will slice a finger off one day on that thing) but I really would not try this recipe without one.  By the way, you should have a mandolin if you cook a lot – it is a saving grace for au gratin potatoes, fries, cole slaw or any recipe where you need thinly and evenly slice fruits or veggies.

The ragu uses some really unique flavors that create something special relative to traditional lasagna.  Fennel, celery, onion, cinnamon stick and bay leaves all come to together to add something neat to this dish.  I was worried it might be too “different” for my husband and three year old son but they both licked their plates clean.

This dish makes a huge lasagna, so if you are not feeling 10+ people, freeze some for a rainy day.  I highly recommend this dish if you have the time and want a unique, gluten free, veggie laden yet meaty lasagna (the recipe also includes spinach and mushrooms).

We enjoyed a ridiculously delicious wine with this meal from one of my favorite producers – Pride Mountain Vineyards.  This Merlot is rich and decadent yet pairs nicely with savory dishes like this.   If you ever have a chance to visit the winery or try their wines, I cannot recommend them enough.  They are pricey though which is why we save them for special occasions.  In this case, the occasion was celebrating finishing cooking this lasagna.