Thursday, January 9, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

Christmas Eve with my in-laws means pizza.  I'm not sure how the tradition got started, but every year they go out for pizza at Chi-Chi's and the ladies tend to order pasta.  Since we had a newborn this year, they came to us and picked up pizzas.  I wanted to have pasta but needed something make-ahead because you never know when you will be able to cook.  I knew lasagna was the perfect solution but I had a small challenge.  My father-in-law doesn't eat any vegetables and my niece has recently become a vegetarian so we really needed two lasagnas.  For the vegetarian lasagna I wanted to use butternut squash because my niece really likes it and she was my target audience.  I came across this great recipe from How Sweet Eats and then added in some spinach because I always like to have a green vegetable.  I also left off the sage because I heard it can decrease your milk supply and I'm nursing.  This was A-MA-ZING!  That being said, there was a puddle of grease on top and on the bottom when I cut into it, so I set about making a few changes to try to avoid that when I made it again.  I reduced the amount of butter and replaced a third of the mascarpone with some part-skim ricotta.   All I can say is YUM!

Start out by roasting some butternut squash.  I just bought the bag of pre-cubed butternut squash from Trader Joe's because I don't have time to peel and cut a butternut squash.  Put the squash on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Drizzle it with olive oil and then sprinkle on some salt, pepper, and a little ground nutmeg.  Bake it at 400 for 25-30 minutes, then mash it.  You don't need to make a puree, chunks are perfectly delicious.

To make the cheese mixture, thinly slice a shallot and mince a few cloves of garlic.  Melt a little butter in a skillet over medium and add in the shallots and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes swirling your pan every 30 seconds or so.

Take about a third of a bag of frozen chopped spinach, defrost it in the microwave, and press out as much liquid as you can.  Then in a medium bowl, combine the spinach with some parmesan, ricotta, room temperature mascarpone, the butter, shallot, and garlic mixture, and some salt and pepper.

Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan (this is plenty for my little family but you can easily double this and bake it in a 9 x 13 pan) with cooking spray.  Take a little of the cheese and spinach mixture and spread it around the bottom of the pan.

Lay two no-bake lasagna noodles on top of the cheese and spinach mixture.  Spread half of the mashed squash on top of the lasagna noodles then spread half of the remaining cheese and spinach mixture on top of that.

Sprinkle on some grated parmesan and some mozzarella.  Repeat the layers one more time with the remaining squash, cheese and spinach mixture, parmesan, and mozzarella.

At this point, I recommend refrigerating it overnight so the flavors can marry and the no-boil noodles come out softer.  You can bake it right away if you want but making it ahead is so convenient.

If you made it ahead, about 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the lasagna, remove it from the fridge.   Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and golden brown.  (As you can see, I did have a little bit of grease on the top this time too, but I just blotted it off with a paper towel.)

Let it sit for about 10 minutes before cutting into it and serving.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna
  • 12 oz. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tbls. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg 
  • 4 no boil lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz. mascarpone, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups grated parmesan
  • about 5 oz. frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tbls. butter
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Put squash on baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg.  Stir to coat.  Bake for about 30 minutes then mash squash and set aside.  If baking lasagna immediately, reduce oven temperature to 350.
  3. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallot and garlic.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so.
  4. To make the spinach and cheese mixture, defrost the spinach and press out as much moisture as you can.  
  5. In a medium bowl combine the defrosted spinach, mascarpone, ricotta, 3/4 cup of the parmesan, salt and pepper, and the butter, shallot, and garlic mixture.
  6. Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray and spread about 1/4 cup of the spinach and cheese mixture on the bottom.  Top with 2 no-boil lasagna noodles.
  7. Spread half of the butternut squash over the noodles and then spread half of the remaining spinach and cheese mixture on top of that.
  8. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup of parmesan and half of the mozzarella.
  9. Repeat your layers one more time: noodles, squash, spinach and cheese mixture, parmesan, and mozzarella.
  10. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Let sit 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  *If making ahead, refrigerate overnight.  Remove from fridge about 30 minutes before baking.

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