Serious Eats: Recipes

The Crisper Whisperer: Acorn Squash Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce

Note: You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays to help us cook through seasonal surplus with ease.

It occurred to me recently that I have a very specific conception of what it means to be a serious eater. Decades before I met this website, I developed a deep admiration for--and eventually an identity as--the kind of person who kicks off Thanksgiving dinner with a generous helping of lasagna. I'm not sure I'd named her until a few weeks ago, but that particular serious eater has been my companion for as long as I can remember. I think about her almost as much in the off-season as in the days leading up to the big game.

She's not loud or flashy about her ability to pack in, as a pre-turkey palate cleanser, that which any reasonable person would consider a substantial main course. In fact, while she's sociable during dinner, she'll often get quiet for a minute or two at a time, focused on the flavors that consume her as she consumes them. And while she'd be the first to say that eating should be about the singular pleasures of the moment, she takes her training seriously, too.

About a week in advance of turkey day, she selects an outfit with minimal waist restriction and dry cleans if necessary. Maybe she packs a pair of drawstring sweatpants for the car ride home. On Turkey Eve, she eats a bulky dinner designed to stretch the stomach without lasting caloric repercussions. Early the next afternoon, her pleasant smile greets you at the door, but it's her A-game you notice stepping across the threshold.

I think she would be happy with this Acorn Squash Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce. She'd call it autumn on a fork. She'd appreciate the interplay of the sweet roasted squash and the Parmigiano's deep umami. She'd be glad that it's simple to prepare, and that it doubles as a main course for vegetarians.

She would savor every bite. And then she'd move on to the turkey.

About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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