Lasagna takes on a unique and delicious twist with the addition of butternut squash and Parmesan spinach sauce.
I hope the vegetables won’t turn you off because it’s everything you would expect from a traditional lasagna and more with layers of gooey cheese and carb-laden noodles. Even vegetable haters will like it, if you can convince them to give it a chance.
The butternut squash finds its way into the filling along with a trio of vegetables including onion, roasted red pepper and garlic. There’s also the requisite ricotta cheese, mozzarella, fresh parsley, Italian seasoning and a couple pinches of nutmeg.
The spinach sauce is crazy-easy to make and so moreish you could pour it right into a bowl and eat it straightaway with a spoon. Or a straw.
Running down the short list of ingredients you may not get the impression that the total sum of their parts could be so delicious. All you do is whiz together chicken broth, fresh baby spinach and sour cream in a food processor then stir in Parmesan cheese and a touch of red pepper flakes for an optional albeit subtle kick of heat. That’s it. Use as is. No cooking needed, it will thicken up all on its own as it bakes and sets.
Let’s talk noodles. There’s three different types: fresh, oven-ready(no-boil) and dried. I prefer to use fresh ones. There’s no worries over whether they’re cooked enough like with oven-ready noodles. The dried noodles add extra time to an already time-consuming recipe plus you have to deal with breakage and noodles sticking together. The fresh ones are the easiest to work with and, I think, the best tasting. Plus, they’re time savers because you can use them straight from the package. Look for them in the refrigerated section where the fresh tortellini and ravioli are found.
The squash adds a subtle sweetness that is well-balanced by all the savory goodness of the gooey cheese and the creamy, spicy spinach sauce that helps brighten everything up.
Truth be known, if this were to replace the traditional lasagna I’ve eaten my entire life, from here on out, I might not miss it at all.
Don’t tell my Mom.
|Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna|| |
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 roasted red pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt and fresh black pepper
- butter, for greasing the pan
- 3 cups firm cooked butternut squash, diced small or lightly mashed
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
- 12 ounces fresh lasagna noodles (or 9-10 ounce oven ready - no cook noodles)
- 1 can (14 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth
- 3 packed cups fresh, uncooked baby spinach leaves
- ⅔ cup full fat sour cream
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- In a medium skillet or saute pan heat the oil over medium low heat and cook the onion, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning until soft, seasoning well with salt and pepper and stirring often. Allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and butter a 9x13 lasagna or casserole pan with deep sides.
- Add the broth, spinach, sour cream and red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth with some flecks of spinach. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a medium bowl mix the squash, eggs, ricotta, parsley, nutmeg, the sauteed onion mixture, and a ½ cup of the mozzarella together with a couple dashes of salt and pepper.
- Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of the sauce then cover with noodles. Spoon half the squash mixture over the noodles and spread out evenly with the back of the spoon. Cover generously with a layer of sauce. Sprinkle with a third of the mozzarella.
- Repeat the layering - start with a layer of noodles, the remaining squash mixture, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
- To finish top with another layer of noodles, a generous layer of sauce and the remaining mozzarella. You may have a little sauce left, you can simmer that in a small saucepan for five minutes to serve with the lasagna.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake 50 - 60 minutes until piping hot in the center. Remove the foil 20-25 minutes into the cooking time so the top can brown. Allow to set for 10 minutes before cutting. Slice into squares and serve with a ladle of sauce if you have any leftover and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.