Butternut Squash Lasagna

Want a real show-stopper? Make this Butternut Squash Lasagna! Layers of squash, noodles, cheese sauce, and spinach. It's easy to make ahead (or freeze!) and will satisfy a large crowd.

Lasagna with Butternut Squash
Sally Vargas

If your inner skeptic emerges and your eyes glaze over when you hear the words vegetarian and lasagna in the same sentence, then you should open those eyes. No one can call this cheesy, creamy butternut squash vegetarian lasagna boring.

Creamy white sauce, salty Parmesan, and oozy fontina cheese contrast with the sweetness of roasted butternut squash. Throw in a little spinach for good measure—and a bit of bitterness to balance the sweet-creamy aspects—and you have something worthy of a party or special dinner.

Lasagna always seems to require some heavy lifting, but once you have made the components, the fun part—layering the ingredients in the pan—becomes immensely satisfying.

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna
Sally Vargas

Can I Use No-Boil Noodles?

I thought you would ask that! The short answer is: no.

If you like tender noodles, then no-boil noodles won’t quite do the trick. I did try a small test batch with no-boil noodles, and the result was good, but the top noodles were a lot on the crunchy side.

Personally, I kind of like that, because I love anything crunchy, but I think many people would be disappointed. Because lasagna is a lot of work, I think it’s best to err on the conservative side and cook the noodles first in boiling water the old-fashioned way.

Butternut Squash Vegetable Lasagna add the filling
Sally Vargas
Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna add the parm and fontina
Sally Vargas

Make It Ahead: Two Options

The beauty of lasagna, of course, is that it is the ideal make-ahead dish for a holiday or special occasion. And it freezes easily, too—bonus!

Option 1: Let all the components cool to the same temperature and then assemble the lasagna. (Mixing hot and cold ingredients increases the chances of spoilage; just don’t do it. Ever.) The béchamel will thicken as it cools, so just spread it over the noodles as best you can; it will smooth out when baked.

Cover with plastic wrap and immediately place it in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Take it from the fridge to the oven and add a few extra minutes to the baking time, until it's hot all the way through. If the top starts to brown before the center is hot, cover it loosely with foil.

Option 2: (My preferred) Bake the lasagna completely. Cool briefly, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. Reheat in 350oF oven, covered loosely with foil, for 30 minutes or so, until hot all the way through. Individual slices can be reheated in the microwave for a few more days. (Hello, lunch!)

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
Sally Vargas

How to Freeze Lasagna

Assemble the lasagna and cover it with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 2 months for optimal freshness.

Remove plastic wrap and foil from the baking dish and replace the foil. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350oF. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until hot. During last 20 minutes of baking, remove the foil and continue baking until the lasagna is bubbling and the cheese is browned.

When your vegetarian cousin shows up at your Thanksgiving dinner you’ll be sitting in the catbird seat! Even non-vegetarians will want to sneak a slice of this lasagna onto their plates.

Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe
Sally Vargas

More Lasagna Recipes

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Prep Time 60 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 110 mins
Servings 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients

  • For the squash:
  • 2 butternut squash (about 2 pounds each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • For the béchamel (white sauce):
  • 5 cups milk (whole milk or 2 percent)
  • 6 whole sage leaves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • For the noodles and filling:
  • 16 dry lasagna noodles (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups (1 pound) whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup grated fontina
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • For assembling the lasagna:
  • 5 ounces (5 packed cups) fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup grated fontina

Method

  1. Prep the squash:

    Peel the squashes with a vegetable peeler. Cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. (See How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash)

  2. Roast the squash:

    Preheat the oven to 450oF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Lay the slices on the baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, or until tender.

  3. Steep the milk for the béchamel:

    In a microwave-safe measuring cup with a spout, heat the milk and sage leaves for 4 to 5 minutes in the microwave, or until it bubbles at the edges but does not boil. (Alternatively, heat in a saucepan on top of the stove.) Turn off the heat once it bubbles a little bit on the stovetop. Leave the sage leaves to steep in the milk for 20 minutes.

  4. While the milk steeps, cook the lasagna noodles:

    Bring a large (6-quart) pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions, about 8 minutes.

    Hold the pot over the sink and pour off the hot water. Fill the pot of noodles with cold water, running the water until the water in the pot is cool.

    Cover the noodles with cold water to stop the noodles from cooking and to remove some of the starch.

    Lift each noodle out of the pot one by one and set it on a kitchen towel. Don’t worry if the noodles stick together a bit, or if one of them tears slightly. They will be covered with other ingredients and no one will be the wiser.

  5. Make the béchamel:

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter for the bechamel. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is uniformly bubbly. Do not let the flour brown.

    Take the pan off the heat. Leaving the sage leaves in the milk for now, gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot milk into the butter and flour, whisking until smooth. Gradually whisk in the remaining milk until smooth and return the pan to medium heat.

    Bring the sauce to a low boil, whisking slowly but constantly. Adjust the heat to a simmer, and whisking constantly, cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer, or until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

    Remove the pan from the heat and remove and discard the sage leaves. Stir in the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like.

    Butternut Squash Vegetable Lasagna make the bechamel
    Sally Vargas
  6. Make the lasagna filling:

    In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, fontina, parsley, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.

    Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna make the filling
    Sally Vargas
  7. Assemble the lasagna:

    Decrease the oven temperature to 375oF.

    Spoon about 1/4 cup of béchamel in a thin layer over the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Spread 4 noodles lengthwise over the sauce and cover them with 1/4 of the remaining béchamel. Spread 1/3 of the spinach leaves on top. Top with 1/3 of the squash slices. Use heaping tablespoons to dollop 1/3 of the filling on top of the squash.

    Repeat the layers 2 more times for a total of 3 layers in the same order: noodles, béchamel, spinach, squash and filling, finishing with a fourth layer of noodles topped with the remaining béchamel. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and fontina.

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  8. Bake the lasagna:

    Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

  9. Cool and serve:

    Let the lasagna rest and settle for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing into serving pieces. Leftovers keep, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 4 days.

    Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe bake until golden brown and bubbly
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