My friend Andrew (yea, you!) and I have a constant battle over red vs. white sauce. Andrew is adamant that food traditionally served with a red sauce should only be eaten with a red sauce. Pizza, pasta, and…lasagna! While I personally love a good red sauce, I also love creamy cheese sauces and green and orange-colored sauces to accompany those food items.

So, in honor of our ongoing “battle”, today I made my favorite butternut squash lasagna. I call this a “hippy seasonal lasagna” rather than a traditional lasagna. It uses a trifecta of cheese layers: One filled with mozzarella/parmesan; a roasted garlic béchamel; and a butternut squash ricotta sauce.

Some tips:

  • There are many arguments about a cold milk/warm roux combo and the harmful effect of using cold milk when making a roux for the béchamel. To make sure the milk is warm enough to avoid clumping, I like to add the milk to a bowl and let it come to room temperature by placing it on the stovetop while the oven preheats and the other food cooks.
  • If using pre-cooked noodles, after draining the cooking liquid, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and lay out parchment paper, placing each noodle flat so that they don’t fold up and get stuck to each other. Noodles that stick together can be a real pain, so this helps prevent that!
  • This lasagna uses three layers, with approximately 4 noodles per layer. Keep this in mind as you begin layering and building your lasagna!
  • As you build each layer, taste them, making sure they have the right amount of salt and pepper.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • One pound of lasagna noodles (depending on the size of your baking dish, you will need approximately 12 noodles, 4 per layer)
  • One quart of milk (4 cups), warmed, or at room temperature
  • 1 pound of mushrooms (but the more the merrier)
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1.5 cups shredded Parmesan
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 2 cups of kale, chopped
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 head of garlic (roasted) + ~4 extra cloves (minced)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • ~3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and with root end cut off
  • Salt and pepper to taste (lots of it)!

Directions

Step 1: Roast Garlic and Butternut Squash

Preheat oven to 400 and line baking sheet with foil. Slice open butternut squash lengthwise, remove pulp and seeds with a spoon, and drizzle with olive oil on exposed flesh, rubbing in to make sure all cut surfaces are fully coated. Place, cut side up on baking sheet. Slice the end of the head of garlic, rub cut side with olive oil and wrap with foil. img_0796.jpg

Add to baking sheet.Roast garlic and butternut squash for about one hour, or until squash is easily pierced with fork. Reduce oven temperature to 375, or turn off until ready to bake the lasagna.

Step 2: Cook Sausage and Veggies

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pan on medium/high heat. Cook onions and mushrooms for about 7 minutes, until onions are translucent, soft, and sweet. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for one more minute. Add kale and cook until wilted, around 3 minutes. Remove from heat and store in a bowl until later.

Next, in the same pan, add another drizzle of olive oil (enough to coat the pan). After removing sausage from their casings, add to the pan and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the sausage as you cook. Drain off any grease or fat that has accumulated in the pan and set sausage aside until assembly.

Step 3: Make the Béchamel

In a saucepan over medium/high heat, add 4 tablespoons of butter, making sure not to let it brown. Once melted, remove from heat and make a roux by adding in flour, stirring to remove any clumps and get an even consistency. Return to the flame and cook less than a minute, making sure not to let the roux brown as it will discolor the bechamel.  Slowly add in milk, making sure it is not too cold to help the sauce form. Once the milk is added, add aromatics: A spring or two of fresh thyme and a small shallot, that has been peeled, with the root end removed.

Bring the milk to a simmer, scraping down the sides of the pan and incorporating any clumps that form. Once simmering, reduce to medium/low and cook until it is thick and creamy, about 5-10 minutes. At this point, remove aromatics, season with salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze in the entire head of roasted garlic. Mix to incorporate and cook for one more minute. Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally, incorporating any layers that form until ready to use.

Step 4: Cook your Noodles

Using a large stockpot, boil 5 quarts of heavily salted water (many chefs say it should “taste like the sea”). Cook until al dente, about 2 or 3 minutes less than the recommended cooking time on the package. While it is cooking, lay out a layer of parchment paper on the countertop. Drain water, drizzle with a bit of oil, toss to coat, and place lasagna noodles on the parchment paper, laying them flat and avoiding overlap.

Step 5: Make the Ricotta Filling

Remove flesh/inside from butternut squash and add to a mixing bowl. With the back of a spoon, mash the squash until clumps are gone and it is smooth.

Add in ricotta, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, an egg, a handful of chopped basil (reserving a few tablespoons for garnish at the end), salt, and pepper. Mix until combined.

Step 6: Assemble!

Butter your lasagna pan, and then spread a thin layer of béchamel on the  base so that the noodles don’t stick and dry out.

Next, begin layering! Add 1/3 of the ricotta/squash mixture on top of the noodles, creating an even, thick layer. Sprinkle 1/2 of the veggie mix, and 1/2 of the cooked sausage on top. Drizzle the béchamel next, spreading so that every part of the lasagna has a layer on top.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella and parmesan on top. Repeat two times.

For the top layer, spread the the rest of the ricotta/squash mixture on top and sprinkle with remaining parmesan and mozzarella.

Step 7: Bake and Serve

Cover lasagna in foil, trying to tend the foil a little bit so that it isn’t flush with the cheese layer. In a 375 oven, bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and take off foil, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until cheese is browned along edges and has started to create several brown cheese spots throughout the center of the lasagna. Remove, sprinkle with remaining basil, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Now, you may eat!

So…You might be wondering…Who won the lasagna bake-off? In my mind, it was a tie! Each lasagna had so much love put into it, we all won 🙂

5 from 2 votes
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Butternut Squash Lasagna

Total Time 4 hours
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 pound lasagna noodles depending on the size of your baking dish, you will need approximately 12 noodles, 4 per layer
  • 1 quart whole milk 4 cups, warmed, or at room temperature
  • 1 pound of mushrooms but the more the merrier
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1.5 cups shredded Parmesan
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 2 cups of kale chopped
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 onion sliced into small pieces
  • 1 head of garlic + 4 cloves roasted + ~4 extra cloves (minced)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 small shallot peeled and with root end cut off
  • Salt and pepper to taste lots of it!

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line baking sheet with foil. Roast garlic and butternut squash for about one hour, or until squash is easily pierced with fork. Reduce oven temperature to 375, or turn off until ready to bake the lasagna.

  2. Cook onions and mushrooms for about 7 minutes over medium/high heat until onions are cooked. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for one more minute. Add kale and cook until wilted, around 3 minutes. Remove from heat and store in a bowl until later.

    Next, after removing sausage from their casings, cook in oil over medium/high heat, breaking up the sausage as you cook. Drain off any grease that has accumulated. 

  3. In a saucepan over medium/high heat, add 4 tablespoons of butter, making sure not to let it brown. Add in flour, stir to remove clumps, and cook less than a minute. Slowly add in milk and add spring or two of fresh thyme the shallot. Bring the milk to a simmer, then reduce to medium/low and cook until it is thick and creamy, about 5-10 minutes. Remove aromatics, season with salt and pepper, add entire head of roasted garlic. Mix to incorporate and cook for one more minute. Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally, incorporating any layers that form until ready to use.

  4. Using a large stockpot, boil 5 quarts of heavily salted water (many chefs say it should “taste like the sea”). Cook until al dente, about 2 or 3 minutes less than the recommended cooking time on the package. While it is cooking, lay out a layer of parchment paper on the countertop. Drain water, drizzle with a bit of oil, toss to coat, and place lasagna noodles on the parchment paper, laying them flat and avoiding overlap.

  5. Remove flesh/inside from butternut squash and add to a mixing bowl. With the back of a spoon, mash the squash until clumps are gone and it is smooth. Add in ricotta, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, an egg, a handful of chopped basil (reserving a few tablespoons for garnish at the end), salt, and pepper. Mix until combined.

  6. Butter your lasagna pan, and then spread a thin layer of béchamel on the base so that the noodles don’t stick and dry out. Next, begin layering! Add 1/3 of the ricotta/squash mixture on top of the noodles, creating an even, thick layer. Sprinkle 1/2 of the veggie mix, and 1/2 of the cooked sausage on top. Drizzle the béchamel next, spreading so that every part of the lasagna has a layer on top. Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella and parmesan on top. Repeat two times. For the top layer, spread the the rest of the ricotta/squash mixture on top and sprinkle with remaining parmesan and mozzarella.

  7. Cover lasagna in foil, trying to tend the foil a little bit so that it isn’t flush with the cheese layer. In a 375 oven, bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and take off foil, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until cheese is browned along edges and has started to create several brown cheese spots throughout the center of the lasagna. Remove, sprinkle with remaining basil, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Butternut Squash Lasagna”

  1. Such a good lasagna… and I really like the idea of honoring foods that are in season with this one. Thank you SO much for sharing (both the dish and the post)!

  2. The two lasagnas were very different, but Jenna’s was the better one. It takes a lot to pry my interest from a tomato sauce, but I had some of mine leftover today and found myself daydreaming of butternut squash and garlic. Recipe might be worth framing.

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