Butternut Squash and Celeriac Lasagna, from My New Roots

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Also known as, the meal for six that only used part of a celery root literally the size of my head.

Celeriac, you guys. It definitely challenges me. I’m never sure how to prepare it in a moderately healthy way (<3 u cream and butter, but a little too much) that is also, you know, tasty. And I can’t figure out if it’s actually substantially better for me than potatoes. I would guess yes? But it’s definitely more ambiguous and complicated than a pile of leaves.

So, let’s get this out of the way, first. I named this dish faithfully as our source did, but I wouldn’t necessarily name it lasagna, myself. I think that’s a little bit of a loaded title that promises pasta and cheese, which, notably, are both absent. That’s not to say it’s not tasty, I just think of it more as a gratin, generously, or a vegetable casserole. And it is a nice, gratin that uses a lot of a root vegetable that’s never excited me. It’s hearty and satisfying without being too rich. I will say that it’s pretty labor-intensive. It took me a few hours of leisurely bopping around in the kitchen to pull the whole dish together.

You could prep the sauce, “béchamel,” and leafy layer completely ahead of time. You could also slice the celeriac noodles ahead of time, but I would keep them stored suspended in water to avoid browning. It’s all cooked before assembly, so the final bake is mainly to warm it through, making the final step is relatively fast.

Butternut Squash and Celeriac “Lasagna”
Adapted lightly from My New Roots

Butternut Squash Sauce
4.5 lbs (2 medium or 3 small) butternut squash
4 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive/safflower/coconut oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. (It may be helpful to remove the base and stem before you do this.) Rub with a little oil and salt, then roast in oven until soft, about 40 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven and let cool.

Scoop out flesh from the butternut squash and blend in a food processor or high power blender with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste.

Celeriac “Noodles”
1.3 lbs celeriac or 1/3 of a skull-sized celeriac root
vegetable broth

Scrub the celeriac as best you can. Remove the bottom, gnarled portion of the celeriac. Peel generously (take off quite a bit) using a knife — a peeler might not stand up to the assertive root.

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot.

Cut into thin sheets carefully. (You can cut the root in half before doing so to make a flat surface.)

Boil the celeriac sheets in the broth until “al dente,” edible but not mushy. This will take 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness of sheets.

Bean “Béchamel”
1 15 oz can great northern beans (or other white beans)
sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
pinch salt if needed
¼ – ½ cup water

Drain and rinse the beans.  Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor or high-power blender until smooth, seasoning to taste.

You could use dried beans, of course (you want about 2 cups total, cooked), though that definitely bumps this dish into the multi-day prep category.

Leafy layer
1/2 bunch of chard

Wash and destem the chard. Slice into medium (palm-sized) pieces.

Assembly

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

In an 8″ 10″ dish, layer, a third of the celeriac, a third of the butternut squash sauce, half of the chard, and half of the bean béchamel. Salt and pepper lightly. (Remember that celeriac is slightly salty to begin with, so you won’t need as much salt as usual.) Repeat. Top with the last third of the celeriac and last third of the butternut squash sauce.

Place in the oven until hot, timing will depend on if you prepared the ingredients beforehand or not. From room temperature, this took around 20 minutes for me.

Slice and serve immediately.