Butternut Squash Lasagna
Behold your future go-to recipe for guests: Butternut Squash Lasagna. Not only is it totally impressive, I’d even say a real show stopper, but it can be made a day or two ahead and then just popped in the oven before your guests arrive. How easy is that!
This recipe was originally shared on December 14th, 2018. I have republished it today because I updated some of the text and added step-by-step photographs to make it more useful for you. I hope you enjoy it.
Why We Love This Recipe For Butternut Squash Lasagna
There are times to grab those super-fast get dinner on the table recipes, and then there are times, like a holiday meal, Sunday supper, or when guests are coming, to pull out a recipe like this one. You know, a recipe that takes a bit more time, but is so obviously worth every minute for the rich and complex flavors that result of time well spent.
When I have company coming over, I get organized, plan ahead and I reach for recipes that I know will be a big wow moment. Friends, this Butternut Squash Lasagna is one of those recipes.
At first it looks just like a regular lasagna, but then when you slice into it, the layers of sweet creamy pureed butternut squash and caramelized onions reveal themselves and you know you are in for a special treat! The caramelized onion, sweet squash and pinch of nutmeg are such a delightful surprise. And the melted cheddar cheese really balances the sweetness and keeps the whole dish savory. No lasagna would be complete without ricotta and it adds another level of creaminess. I skipped bechamel sauce, and instead used crushed tomatoes with basil. I think the acidity from the tomatoes really works and it saved a bit of time.
I’ve also made this Butternut Squash Lasagna as a meal-prep recipe: I built it on Sunday afternoon, covered it and refrigerated it. Then on Tuesday night I baked it for dinner.
Key Ingredients For This Recipe
Butternut Squash: Butternut squash is by far my favorite squash for roasting and pureeing because it is so easy to scoop from the skin. If you have another winter squash that you want to use, feel free to substitute it instead.
Cheddar Cheese: Usually lasagna has mozzarella cheese, but I wanted the flavor of Sharp Cheddar Cheese in this butternut squash lasagna to help balance the sweet squash puree. I love the tangy sharp flavor it adds. When you are looking for cheddar for your lasagna, look for “extra sharp” or “sharp.”
No Boil Lasagna Noodles: Because this lasagna has so much moisture in it from an entire butternut squash, there is no need to boil the noodles. Yay! I tested this with no-boil lasagna noodles and regular noodles, and both soften just fine.
Sweet Onions: To make this recipe more complex tasting and balance the sweet butternut squash mixture we added in caramelized onions. The best onions for caramelizing are sweet onions because their natural sugars brown perfectly when they are slowly cooked.
Other Ingredients For This Recipe
- Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg and Thyme
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Part-skim ricotta
- Canned crushed tomatoes
- Chopped fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese
Step-By-Step Instructions To Prepare The Ingredients
Step 1: Roast and Puree Butternut Squash:
Roast The Squash: First I cut the butternut squash in half and scooped out the seeds. I set it cut-side down on a sheet pan lined with non-stick foil. You can also use parchment. then just bake the squash until it is tender. It can take up to an hour depending on the size and age of your squash.
Make Butternut Squash puree: Let the squash cool on the pan until it is cool enough to handle. Sometimes, especially if the squash cools a lot and contracts, the skin will pull right off. So easy! Then just throw the squash into the food processor with salt and nutmeg and puree it. If you don’t have a food processor, no worries, you can mash it by hand. It won’t be as silky smooth, but still quite good. You can make this squash several days in advance or you can even freeze it if you like.
Step 2: Make Caramelized Onions
Caramelized Onions: At some point while you are prepping the squash, think about caramelizing the onions as well. Low and slow is the way to go when making caramelized onions. Basically you want to cook the onions until they are completely soft and then allow the sugars to darken. My stove in my studio is really hot, and so I have to have it set at medium-low and splash in some water too, to keep it from burning. Keeping the lid on helps them not darken too much too early because it traps the moisture in the pot which keeps the temperature down.
Step 3: Make Tomato Mixture
I used a large can of crushed tomatoes, to which I added in freshly chopped basil (makes all the difference in flavor), salt and pepper. This is so much easier than making a tomato sauce on the stove top- and since we already have caramelized onions in the dish, the flavor will be just as good.
Step 4: Make Ricotta Mixture
Mix ricotta cheese: Ricotta cheese is a fresh cheese (meaning it isn’t aged) so it is high in moisture. I add some egg to it to help it hold together as the lasagna bakes. You can use part-skim ricotta or whole milk ricotta cheese. (Note: the nutrition info below is based on part-skim ricotta.)
How to Assemble and Bake The Lasagna
Step 5: Prevent Noodles From Sticking
Coat a 9×11 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about ½ cup tomato mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer on three uncooked lasagna noodles.
Step 6: Base Layer
Spread about half of the butternut squash mixture over the noodles. Top with about half of the onion. Dollop with half of the ricotta.
Step 7: Add Sauce And Cheese
Top with about 1 cup tomato mixture and 2/3 cup shredded cheddar.
Step 8: Build The Second Layer and Final Layer of Noodles
Repeat with another layer of three noodles, the remaining squash, the remaining onions, the remaining ricotta, 1 cup sauce and 2/3 cup cheddar. Top with the remaining three noodles and the remaining tomato mixture, spreading out to moisten the noodles. Do not add cheese to the top or it will stick to the foil.
Step 9: To Bake
Bake: Cover with foil. Bake (at 400 degrees) until the lasagna is steaming hot, about 45 minutes if placed directly in the oven from prep or 60 minutes if made ahead and refrigerated.
Step 10: Top with Cheese And Bake Again
Remove foil, top with the remaining 2/3 cup cheddar and 3 tablespoons Parmesan and continue baking, uncovered, until the lasagna is bubbling and the cheese is melted, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Let sit 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter for healthy recipes delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make these recipes, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Butternut Squash Lasagna, a new twist on vegetarian lasagna. Layers of creamy pureed squash, caramelized onions, tender noodles and cheese come together to make an impressive meal for guests. Make it up to two days ahead and then just pop the lasagna in the oven before they arrive. Also a great Sunday supper recipe.
1 large butternut squash
1 ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
½ teaspoon dry thyme
16 ounces part-skim ricotta
1 large egg
28-ounces canned crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Roast and Puree Butternut Squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil. Cut butternut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place cut-side-down on the prepared baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Roast until the flesh is tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the butternut squash is cool enough to handle, carefully scoop flesh into a food processor fitted with steel blade attachment. Add ½ teaspoon salt and nutmeg and process until smooth.
- Make Caramelized Onions: Meanwhile, swirl oil in the bottom of a small saucepan. Add onion ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and set over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring often until the onion is tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add water to the skillet one to two tablespoons at a time if the onions start to brown before they are soft. Remove from heat and stir in thyme.
- Make Ricotta Mixture: Stir ricotta and egg in a medium bowl.
- Prepare Tomato: Stir together tomatoes, basil and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Assemble lasagna: Coat a 9×11 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about ½ cup tomato mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer on three uncooked lasagna noodles.
- Spread about half of the butternut squash mixture over the noodles. Top with about half of the onion. Dollop with half of the ricotta.
- Top with about 1 cup tomato mixture and 2/3 cup shredded cheddar.
- Repeat with another layer of three noodles, the remaining squash, the remaining onions, the remaining ricotta, 1 cup sauce and 2/3 cup cheddar. Top with the remaining three noodles and the remaining tomato mixture, spreading out to moisten the noodles. Do not add cheese to the top or it will stick to the foil.
- Bake: Cover with foil. Bake (at 400 degrees) until the lasagna is steaming hot, about 45 minutes if placed directly in the oven from prep or 60 minutes if made ahead and refrigerated.
- Remove foil, top with the remaining 2/3 cup cheddar and 3 tablespoons Parmesan and continue baking, uncovered, until the lasagna is bubbling and the cheese is melted, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Let sit 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Make Ahead Instructions
This recipe can be prepared through step 8 up to two days in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator.
Bake as directed. Chill in the refrigerator. Then Wrap in a double layer of foil and plastic wrap. Freeze up to one month. Thaw in the refrigerator at least 24 hours. Bake, covered at 325 degrees until steaming hot, and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the center of the lasagna, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Serving Size: 1/10 of lasagna
- Calories: 545
- Fat: 15 g
- Saturated Fat: 8 g
- Carbohydrates: 80
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 26 g