Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

Has butternut squash worn out its welcome around these parts yet?  Hopefully not, because this use of it is a serious winner (a couple of years ago I made it for my book club and everyone was fighting over the leftovers, it's that good! : ).  It is serious comfort food and the leftovers taste almost better than the original dish.  Originally adapted from a Cooking Light recipe, it's even pretty healthy as well!

If squash is not your thing (Please don't knock it til you try it!  And, by the way, butternut squash is the creamy tan, bell-shaped vegetable in the winter squash section), you could certainly play around with the fillings to have other white sauced lasagna options: for example, spinach, mushrooms and Italian sausage; other mixed vegetables like zucchini, spinach, red bell pepper and carrots (first sauteed and seasoned how you like); sliced cooked chicken, you get the picture...

Finally, although there are several components, all the steps can be done ahead of time.  Prepare the white sauce, roast the squash and saute the spinach and then refrigerate until you're ready to assemble your lasagna.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
8 cups (3/4") cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Cooking spray3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
4 tablespoons butter
8 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 (6-ounce) bags fresh baby spinach
9 cooked lasagna noodles, al dente (8 ounces uncooked noodles)
1 1/4 cups shredded Asiago, Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place squash in a large bowl.  Add vinegar and toss to coat.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat.  Spread evenly in one layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and thyme.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add half of minced garlic and cook about 30 seconds to a minute or until fragrant.  Add flour to pan and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, or until smooth and golden.  Remove from heat, add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Gradually add remaining milk about 1/2 cup at a time and whisking constantly until all the milk is added and mixture is smooth.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until smooth and thickened.  Remove from heat.  Cover surface of sauce with plastic wrap, set aside.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, red pepper and remaining garlic in a large pot over medium heat.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add spinach, 1 bag at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently.  Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. 

Spoon 1/3 cup white sauce mixture in bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Arrange 3 noodles over sauce, top with spinach mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella.  Arrange 3 noodles over cheese; top with butternut squash mixture, 2/3 cup white sauce, 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella.  Top with remaining 3 noodles, remaining white sauce mixture and remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine December 2007


  1. That looks Yummy! Never would have thought butternut squash In a lasagne.

  2. Lauren, I love your blog!!! I LOVE to cook too! My blog is not strictly for cooking, more for photography, but I have a ton of cooking things on it. Your's is a lot more sophisticated dishes than mine, but I am learning!! Thanks for sharing. Follow me!

  3. Laurie, I tried this out after all last night, and it was indeed a great way to use up a lot of fresh spinach that was about to turn. It was also totally worth all the prep time! I made a few substitutions since I didn't have everything on hand, but subbing pepper jack and cottage cheese for part of the mozzarella and parmesan was still tasty. I also used half acorn squash instead for part of the butternut. Here's the variation I saw on, which added caramelized onions: