Butternut Squash, Zucchini and Spinach Lasagna

by Jessica Randhawa


I've done it.  I finally made a lasagna that I can't wait to make again.  

and again.  

and again.  

No seriously, as I type this, I really just want to jump right into that pan of cheesy vegetable goodness.  Now, before you start thinking too much, let me just say, this was my first time photographing lasagna. ever.  The layers may not look perfect, but the food and ingredients are all real. And so super delicious that I can't wait to make it again.

So, lasagna.  Usually I'm not a huge fan of 'em.  Especially meat lasagna, I just can't do it.  But, for some reason, vegetarian versions always sound good to me.  Maybe it's because in my mind, no meat translates to more cheese (and I love cheese); but the real reason is probably that I don't care for ground beef in tomato sauce. Now, in lasagnas defense, I've only had a handful of different beef varieties in my lifetime. Maybe I just haven't had a good one.  Growing up, my family went crazy for the stuff so I always just accepted that it wasn't my thing. 

My entire attitude toward lasagna changed after my first bite of this butternut squash, zucchini and spinach lasagna.  It may not be your traditional comforting meal made up of layers of cheese, meat and noodles, but no one in my house seemed to notice.  Octavian even ate it! Cheese aside, this delicious Fall dish is super healthy and bursting with flavor (and since I consider cheese to be healthy, I definitely had seconds).  It's a great meal to prepare ahead of time and warm later in the week, or freeze, thaw and bake a couple months down the road when you forget to buy groceries.  

Basically, I'm obsessed.  

It's made up of layers of spinach and pureed butternut squash sandwiched between pasta and zucchini noodles.  And cheese, there's lots and lots of cheese.

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Zucchini Lasagna

Prep Time: 1 hour  /  Cook Time:  45 minutes  /  Total Time:  1 hour 45 minutes
Servings:  8
Recipe inspired by Julia's Album


Ingredients

Butternut Squash Filling
3 cups butternut squash puree, from one roasted butternut squash or 1.5 cans
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cups milk (more if needed)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Spinach Ricotta Filling
2 16 ounce bags frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of all extra water
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced (fresh is best!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper

Other
3 medium zucchini sliced 1/8" thick
10 sheets Trader Joe's no-boil lasagna noodles (or lasagna noodles of choice)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (for the top)
Italian Seasoning
Paprika
Fresh and dry basil

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Butternut Squash Filling:
2.  You will need precooked butternut squash filling.  You can roast and puree your own (see how to here) or buy it canned from the market.  If neither are available to you, pureed pumpkin is also an option.  Using a food processor, add the butternut squash, ricotta, milk, salt and nutmeg.  Puree until completely smooth.  Add more milk if needed- you want the butternut squash filling to be thick and creamy, but not runny.  Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

Spinach Ricotta Filling:
3.  Make sure spinach is completely thawed.  Remove spinach from bag and squeeze out as much water as possible.  You can also put it in a mesh strainer and squeeze water out that way.  Once most of the water is removed, place in a large mixing bowl with the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, garlic, salt and pepper.  Mix until fully combined.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

Assembly:
4.  Prepare your baking dish (I used a large, deep casserole dish, 12.38"L x 9.25"W x 2"H).  Spray dish with non-stick cooking spray of choice.
5.  Make your first layer!  Spread 1/3 of the butternut squash filling on the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and cover with a single, non-overlapping layer of no-boil lasagna noodles (approx. 5).
6.  Carefully spread half the spinach mixture over the noodles.  Sprinkle with a light later of mozzarella cheese.  This time, top with a layer of sliced zucchini.
7.  Spread 1/3 of the butternut squash mixture over the sliced zucchini layer.  Sprinkle with a light layer of mozzarella cheese and top with a single, non-overlapping layer of no-boil lasagna noodles (approx. 5).
8.  Spread the second half of the spinach mixture on top of the lasagna noodles.  Lightly top with mozzarella cheese and top with a layer of sliced zucchini.
9.  Spread the remaining 1/3 of the butternut squash filling over the zucchini and sprinkle with grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle the cheese with italian seasoning, paprika and dried basil.
10.  Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Top with fresh basil.
11.  Allow 5 minutes to cool before serving.  Enjoy!

Seriously, my new favorite!