This Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna is layered with brown butter béchamel, creamy cinnamon-infused squash, hearty spinach and nutty parmesan cheese. Rich & delicious!
Classic lasagna is great, phenomenal even, depending on how it’s prepared. But Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna?? On another level.
When it comes to layers of pasta, I actually prefer something a little bit lighter than classic lasagna. If I’m ever going the traditional route, I almost always cut back on the meat and red sauce and slip in a vegetable of some sort, and always always use a heavy hand of ricotta and a homemade béchamel for creaminess.
In the case of today’s butternut squash lasagna, we’ve omitted the meat and red sauce altogether and made a vegetarian version that’s every bit as satisfying as its meat-heavy counterpart.
Like any other lasagna out there, this requires some prep, easy prep, but prep nonetheless.
First, you roast a whole butternut squash. This is done the same way I’ve roasted every single butternut squash I’ve used in recipes in the last month (there are quite a few and you can find them here, here and here); split it down the middle, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with lots of salt, a dash of pepper and a hint of cinnamon. Each half is placed flesh-side down on a baking sheet and roasted for about 40 minutes until it’s fork-tender.
And because we need it really soft, you really want to make sure to cook it until it takes virtually no effort whatsoever to mash with a fork, so it could take a little bit longer than 40 minutes depending on your oven.
While the squash roasts, a super simple, but crazy flavorful béchamel sauce is throw together with equal parts BROWN butter and flour. In the last year when it’s fall or winter, I almost always start my béchamel sauces with brown butter. It adds this awesome nutty, warm flavor that feels like cold weather in a sauce, I just love it. It’s almost the equivalent of adding a hint of nutmeg to white sauces since it’s pretty subtle, but makes taste testers do a double take after taking a bite.
Unlike a lot of the béchamel I’ve made, once the butter was brown, I added in a few tablespoons of chopped sage since brown butter + fried sage is one of my very favorite fall flavor combinations, and SO delicious in the creamy béchamel.
While the béchamel thickens, 10 ounces of spinach is cooked until it’s wilted, and while you could steam it, I find it easiest just to throw it all in a large, dry skillet and cook it over a medium flame until it’s completed wilted. At the end, I just season it with a little bit of salt and it’s ready to go.
How to assemble:
Assembly is easy. First a layer of béchamel goes down, then the pasta, some squash puree, all of the spinach, another layer of sauce and plenty of parmesan cheese. The process is repeated two more times, sans the spinach (there’s only one layer of that), and then it’s finished off with another layer of sauce and parmesan cheese.
It gets popped into the oven and bakes until the pasta is tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
Also, it’s important to note that I used no-boil, whole-wheat lasagna noodles, these in particular. But I think any no-boil pasta will work!
To garnish or not to garnish?
I like to garnish with freshly chopped sage, but honestly, it’s perfect as is. Also a sprinkling of parmesan cheese never hurts!
- 1 large butternut squash, split down the middle
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
- 2 1/2 tbsp freshly chopped sage, plus more for garnish
- 3 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 10 oz fresh baby spinach
- 12 whole-wheat no-boil lasagna sheets (I use Dellalo)
- 2 cups freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
- Sauce pan
- 9x12 baking dish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the microwave or over the stove. Brush squash with butter. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, flesh-side down and roast until very soft, about 40-45 minutes.
- While the squash roasts, make the bechemel and cook the spinach. Add remaining butter to a large saucepan or heavy-bottomed pot. Put the flame on medium-high and cook until the butter begins to brown. Swirl the pan until the butter is a deep brown and smells nutty. Reduce the heat to low and add sage. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour. Cook another minute. Slowly whisk in milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add spinach to a large dry skillet. Turn the heat on medium and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes, use tongs to make sure spinach doesn't burn. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Toss.
- Once the squash finishes cooking, scoop out the flesh and transfer to a bowl. Use a fork to mash up the squash and then season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble: Spread 1/4 of the béchamel in the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Cover with three lasagna noodles. Spread with 1/3 of the squash mixture, followed by all of the spinach. Cover with another 1/4 of the béchamel, followed by a 1/3 of the parmesan cheese. Layer with 3 pasta sheets, followed by 1/3 of the squash. Cover with another 1/4 of the béchamel and a 1/3 of the cheese. Cover with three noodles, spread with remaining squash. Cover with remaining béchamel and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-20 minutes or until noodles are soft.