I really enjoy cooking with winter squash, it’s a nutrient dense and satisfying vegetable. And even better, it has so many different uses and ways to prepare it. It makes a great soup, roasted side dish or even an ingredient in a casseroles, like this butternut squash lasagna recipe. In this recipe, layers of cheesy spinach, noodles and yummy butternut squash create a delicious vegetarian casserole. Try out this recipe for Spinach + Winter Squash Lasagna!! It’s the ultimate comfort food meal!!!
Winter Squash Basics
Most often, winter squash is associated with the fall as that is their best growing season, but of course now in the United States it is available all year. Winter squash includes all varieties of squash that grow during the cooler seasons of the year. Butternut squash, acorn squash, buttercup squash, delicata, pumpkin and many more!
One thing they all have in common is that they generally have a tough outer skin and are quite firm before cooked making them hard to peel and cut. But, did you know that you can actually cook it whole and completely intact? Cooking first actually makes it easier to peel, cut and deseed.
You can use regular lasagna noodles or take a short cut and use the noodles that you can cook in the oven thus eliminating the step of boiling them first. I found that the size of the oven-ready lasagna noodles ended up working really well as they fit lengthwise perfectly in the 1 1/2 liter square pyrex baking dish I used (6.5″ x 8.5″). I used 2 noodles in each layer of the dish, so in total I used 6 of these lasagna sheets. Depending on the size of your noodles and the dimensions of your baking dish, you may need more or less.
In the recipe for this winter squash lasagna, I used fresh spinach. I started with about a half pound of fresh spinach and boiled it in down in a couple tablespoons of water. It doesn’t take long, only 1-2 minutes. Another option is to use frozen spinach that you’ve allowed to thaw out.
For me, I personally enjoy fresh spinach, and the other factor for me is that frozen vegetables are not readily available here in Peru. Whichever you choose to use, just make sure you squeeze as much of liquid as you possibly can before adding it to the ricotta cheese. Too much liquid will result in a watery lasagna.
My top pick for the winter squash in this dish is butternut squash, but at the time I first made this dish, it was the start of spring in Peru and butternut squash wasn’t available. Instead, I used a type of squash found here in Peru called Zapallo Loche that is very similar to butternut squash in flavor and consistency.
Other varieties that would work well in this recipe are buttercup squash or kabocha squash. Depending on the consistency of the puree of the type of squash you use, may require you to adjust the amount of stock you add to create the butternut squash sauce. You want it to be a consistency to be similar to marinara sauce as this will add some moisture to the lasagna and help cook the lasagna noodles.
Making squash puree
If you are lucky and can locate a frozen or prepared squash puree that is fantastic but if not, you can easily make your own squash puree, by roasting it in the oven.
Just poke some holes in the outside and put it in the oven intact. Most squash will cook in about 45 minutes or so. You know the squash is cooked when you can easily slide a fork into the flesh. Let it cool and then peel and deseed the squash. Next, place the flesh into a food processor or blender to create the puree. I will generally do this step on a weekend and then freeze the puree in one cup amounts so when I need it, I can just defrost and use.
This winter squash lasagna recipe is a vitamin A powerhouse and one serving provides 137% of the RDA for this nutrient. The vitamin A comes from the carotenoid in the squash and the spinach, which is also what gives the squash its yellowish-orange color and contributes to making the green color in the spinach. Vitamin A is mostly found in plant-based foods and in the form of beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A by the liver. Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale and spinach are other vegetables with higher amounts of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is of most importance to our eyes and without proper levels it can cause blindness. However, it also has functions related to our immune system, overall growth and development, the maintenance of our epithelial cells and bone growth and maintenance.
Spinach + Winter Squash Lasagna
Butternut Squash Mixture
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 cup onion diced
- 6 garlic clove minced
- 2 cup butternut squash puree
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup vegetable stock or watewr
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup cooked fresh or frozen spinach
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 T 2% fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ tsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 6 pre-cooked lasagna sheets
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until softened. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn.
- Add the butternut squash puree and dash of nutmeg to the pan.
- Next, add some of the vegetable stock or to thin the sauce a bit. You want it to be similar in consistency to a thick marinara sauce.
- Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper and adjust as needed.
- Squeeze as much of the liquid as you can out of the spinach.
- Combine the spinach, parmesan, lemon juice, ricotta, Italian seasoning, 1/4 cup parmesan and Greek yogurt. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper and adjust as needed.
Assemble and cook the lasagna
- Spray the baking pan you will be using with baking spray or lightly coat with oil.
- Spread 1/4 of the butternut squash sauce in the bottom of the pan.
- Next place a single layer of lasagna noodles. You may need to cut the noodles to fit your pan.
- On top of the lasagna place half of the spinach mixture and spread out evenly.
- Top that layer with another ¼ of the squash mixture and ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat with another layer of the lasagna noodles, the remainder of the spinach mixture, another ¼ of the squash mixture and ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese. Top that with another layer of lasagna noodles.
- Top with remainder of the butternut squash sauce and finish with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Place the baking dish in a hot oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the cheese is lightly brown and the dish is heated through.
Did you try out this recipe for winter squash lasagna? What winter squash did you use? Be sure to tag me on Instagram @cookeatlivelove so I can see your final results! Tell me about your cooking and eating experience by leaving a comment here. And, don’t forget to give the recipe a five-star rating.
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Like this winter squash lasagna recipe?
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