Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna
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This butternut squash lasagna stole the show one snowy Thanksgiving in Vermont many years ago, and it’s become a staple ever since. It also happens to be simple and delicious. The secret? A rosemary- and sage-infused bechamel AND no-boil lasagna noodles. Creamy, rich, and delicious, this vegetarian entrée is loved by carnivores and vegetarians alike, making it perfect for entertaining.
Snow, dogs, a constant fire — I couldn’t have asked for anything more of Thanksgiving in Vermont.
But, as always, all of the Vermont treats — the Jasper Hill Farm cheeses, the Dakin Farm ham (with the ham sauce!), Uncle Wade’s waffles with Vermont maple syrup, Shed beer — did make me want to pack up and stay forever. I left dreaming about all of my aunt’s cooking, from biscotti and koulourakia to grilled artic char and coconut-milk marinated cauliflower steaks.
Punch, as always, was a massive hit, but hands down, the hit of all hits was this butternut squash lasagna, a dish brought to Thanksgiving dinner by a vegetarian friend of my aunt and uncle’s. Having taken a peek inside the insulated carry tote (which is the coolest thing…Santa, take note), I had to ask for some details immediately. Kris, the friend, kindly obliged and described the basic process, brushing it all off as an old recipe from Gourmet, just something she and her mother had been making for years.
Well, seriously, it stole the show. Everyone at the table raved, ultimately confessing it was the highlight of the meal.
The process of lasagna — all of the steps, the sauce making, the bechamel, the cheeses — always deters me from giving it a go. I think I’ve made two lasagnas total in my life, the second being this one I made on Sunday, which actually came together pretty painlessly. As the diced butternut squash roasted, garlic and butter melted on the stovetop, while milk simmered with sprigs of rosemary and sage.
No-boil noodles and one cheese, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, made for an easy assembly, and the final layer of whipped heavy cream, which sounds odd but is oh so right, came together in a snap.
This is the kind of meal you will want to make all winter long, one you’ll want stashed in your freezer, ready to take to a friend in need, the crowd-pleasing recipe you’ll turn to for your next holiday party, one proven to please both carnivores and vegetarians alike.
PS: Find more favorite butternut squash recipes here.
Before we get to the recipe, let’s answer a few FAQs:
What are the best no-boil lasagna noodles?
I have used Barilla no-boil noodles for years, and I never had any issue with them until last fall.
When I pulled the pan from the oven, the top three sheets of noodles looked nearly identical as they did upon entering — they hadn’t softened or expanded as they normally would. The lasagna was edible, but the top layer was extra crispy, and not in a good way.
This issue sent me searching Google for answers — Do you have to boil no-boil noodles after all? Has Barilla changed its no-boil noodle formula?
Sure enough, I found a community of people sharing the same no-boil noodle grievances, and I found a suggested solution: dunk the no-boil noodles into hot water for 4 to 5 minutes to soften before assembling.
What a pain!
But I gave the suggestion a go, and it worked, and truthfully it wasn’t too much trouble. What I like to do now is fill a small baking dish with an inch of boiling water. I soak three sheets of noodles at a time, which reduces the chances of them sticking together. After I transfer three noodles to the baking dish, I soak three more. The noodles never soften for much more than a minute or two, but even this brief soaking seems to be enough to get them going.
Can you make this lasagna ahead of time?
Yes! The assembled lasagna can be made ahead of time and stashed in the fridge for 24 hours before baking. Alternatively, you could bake the entire lasagna ahead of time. Let it cool completely; then stash it in the fridge. To reheat, you have several options:
- Slice the lasagna into squares, transfer to a sheet pan, and cook at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
- To re-heat the entire lasagna, bring to room temperature if possible before re-heating. Transfer it to a 350ºF oven covered in foil and heat for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and heat for another 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Can you freeze this lasagna?
Yes. This lasagna is best frozen after you bake it. Be sure to let it cool completely before transferring it to the freezer. If you wish, you can cut the lasagna into individual portions, wrap each in plastic wrap, and tuck the portions into an airtight bag or vessel. This allows you to thaw and reheat only the number of portions you wish. If you’d like to freeze the entire pan, be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap. You may want to tuck the entire pan into a jumbo airtight bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
How to Cut Butternut Squash
The hardest part about making this recipe is cutting up the butternut squash. A good peeler and a sharp knife make all the difference. In this one-minute video, I show how I peel and cut butternut squash:
How to Make Butternut Squash Lasagna, Step by Step
You need 1 large or 2 small butternut squash, enough to yield about 8 cups of cubed butternut squash.
Peel the butternut squash; then dice into small cubes (see video above). As noted above, you need about 8 cups.
How to Roast Butternut Squash Cubes
To roast the cubes of butternut squash, toss them with olive oil and salt; then transfer to a 450ºF oven and roast for about 30 minutes, or until slightly caramelized.
In the meantime, heat milk stovetop with a few sprigs of rosemary and sage.
In a separate pot, melt butter with garlic; then add flour to make a roux.
Strain the sage- and rosemary-infused milk slowly into the butter-flour mixture; the cook for 10 minutes or until the bechamel thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (Side Note: If you walk away from your stovetop, like, say, to take a photo of butter and garlic, and return to something like this, be sure to throw a big fit — you’ll feel better, I promise.)
Add the roasted squash cubes to your bechamel and set aside. Note: This bechamel can be made up to 34 days in advance and stashed in the fridge.
Time to assemble! Please view the recipe for the updated method — the updated method is due to a no-boil noodle failure — they just don’t behave as they once did, meaning: they don’t seem to soften and expand as they once did. Now, I soak the noodles briefly while assembling the lasagna.
The final step of this lasagna is to spread the top layer of noodles with salted whipped cream — it sounds odd, but it works, ultimately creating a brown butter like top layer.
Spread grated parmesan over the salted whipped cream; then cover with foil and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover, and cook for 10-20 minutes more or until browned to your liking.
Thanksgiving in Vermont:
We arrived 15 minutes before the snow, which quickly turned Middlebury into a winter wonderland:
So, we sat by the fire,
lounged with the pups,
played with legos,
Thanksgiving morning, Wade made waffles:
and everyone pitched in preparing for the feast:
During dinner, Wren discovered the dog door,
and Ajax took a nap.Print
Creamy, rich, and delicious—this roasted butternut squash lasagna recipe is so easy and so good. The secret? A rosemary- and sage-infused bechamel and no-boil lasagna noodles. Adored by carnivores and vegetarians alike, this super flavorful lasagna is perfect for entertaining.
Adapted from Gourmet — unfortunately, the link no longer seems to be available on Epicurious.
- 3 pounds butternut squash, quartered, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 8 cups of cubed squash)
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
- 4 cups milk, 2% or whole
- a few sprigs fresh rosemary and sage
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- nine 7– by 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne pasta (I use Barilla brand)
- 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Spread the squash onto 1 extra-large sheet pan or 2 standard-sized sheet pans. Toss with 2 tablespoons of oil if using the large pan or 1 tablespoon each if using the smaller sheet pans. Season with salt and toss to coat. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway, until the squash is tender and beginning to turn golden.
- While squash is roasting, in a saucepan bring milk to a simmer with the rosemary and sage sprigs. Heat milk mixture over low heat for 10 minutes and pour through a sieve into a large pitcher or measuring cup.
- In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in flour and cook the roux, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a stream until smooth. Return pan to heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir in the squash and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.
- Reduce temperature to 375°F and butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. UPDATE: Because sometimes no-boil noodles do not expand as well as expected, you can quickly soak them in hot water. If you’ve never had trouble with your no-boil noodles, don’t worry about this step. If you have, I think you’ll find this step makes a difference: Bring a small pot of water to a boil or fill a teapot with water and bring it to a boil. Pour the water into a small vessel such as a 9-inch baking. When you are ready to assemble, dunk three of the sheets into the hot water and let soak. Begin the assembly:
- Pour 1 cup sauce into baking dish (sauce will not cover the bottom completely) and cover with 3 lasagna sheets, making sure they do not touch each other – use tongs to extract the noodles from the hot water. After you transfer the three noodles to the baking dish, soak three more sheets of noodles. Spread half of the remaining sauce (it’s about 2 cups) over the noodles and sprinkle with 1/2 cup parmesan. Top with three more noodles; then soak the final three noodles in the hot water bath. Spread the remaining sauce mixture over the noodles and top with 1/2 cup parmesan. Top with the final layer of noodles.
- In a bowl with an electric mixer (or by hand) beat cream with salt until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly over the top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over cream. Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 10 to 20 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagna stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hours 10 minutes
- Category: Lasagna
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Italian, American
Keywords: butternut, squash, lasagna, rosemary, sage, no-boil