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Lasagna With Butternut Squash Noodles And Spinach

This butternut squash lasagna with spinach is a vegetable-focused lasagna yet tastes indulgent. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free but is enjoyed by all eaters.

This fall-inspired casserole dish is filling, comforting, and flavorful. Plus, it’s excellent for serving people with different dietary needs. Enjoy it any time of year during the fall and winter months or as a holiday meal.

What Makes This Butternut Squash Lasagna Recipe Different?

Most butternut squash lasagna recipes are made with a creamy butternut squash sauce or butternut squash puree.

However, this recipe uses thinly sliced butternut squash noodles instead of regular lasagna noodles. As the lasagna cooks in the oven, the roasted butternut squash noodles become a soft, al dente texture with a subtle sweetness that is utterly delicious.

Ingredient Notes

  • Butternut squash – thinly sliced into sheets for naturally gluten-free noodles that replace regular lasagna noodles in a classic lasagna recipe.
  • Garlic – adds umami flavor.
  • Yellow onion – helps build the flavor for the filling. 
  • Fresh spinach – extra fiber and color.
  • Ground beef – pairs really nicely with the butternut squash (see the substitutions section below for other options).
  • Tomato or pasta sauce – the sweet acidity in the tomatoes helps to bring the whole dish together
  • Salt & black pepper – to taste
  • Cashew ricotta or almond ricotta – either one of these ricotta cheese alternatives adds creaminess and richness similar to traditional lasagna. You can also use store-bought dairy-free ricotta for a quicker option.

See the recipe card for the full recipe and list of ingredients

How to Make Butternut Squash Spinach Lasagna

Step 1. Peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler, then cut just above the bulb. Slice that long piece into four pieces.

Step 2. Place each of the four pieces of butternut squash with the flat side down and safely run them through a mandoline slicer until you’re left with a pile of thin butternut squash noodles. Side note: Mandolines are very sharp, so either use a safety guard or safety gloves to ensure you keep all your fingertips.

Step 3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, cook the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 4. Add the meat and cook until browned, then add in the fresh spinach. It’ll look like a lot at first, but it’ll drastically reduce in size once cooked. Remove from the heat, and add the tomato sauce (minus the 1 reserved cup).

Step 5. Layer the lasagna by adding a little bit of the reserved sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, followed by a layer of butternut squash noodles. Add a few spoonfuls of the meat and spinach mixture on top of the butternut squash, followed by ricotta dollops (or spread them out) to only one of the meat and spinach layers, reserving the rest of the ricotta for the top. Repeat this process with the noodles and meat sauce until you use them up.

Step 6. Spread the reserved tomato sauce and the remainder of the ricotta cheese over the top layer of the butternut squash sheets.

Step 7. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Allow to cool to room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

A baking sheet of lasagna with butternut squash noodles and spinach next to a serving on a plate.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this butternut squash lasagna with spinach using what you already have? Here are some ideas

  • No yellow onion? – use white or sweet onion instead.
  • No ground beef? – Ground chicken or ground turkey also works well in this recipe.
  • Make it vegetarian – use brown or green lentils. You’ll need about 2 to 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils. Add them when you add the meat in the recipe.
  • Make it nut-free – You can use garlic hummus instead of dairy-free ricotta, but only add it to the filling and not on top as well.
  • Add-ins – Italian seasoning.
  • Not dairy-free? – use dairy ricotta in the layers and parmesan cheese or grated mozzarella cheese on top (but you’ll want to cook it covered with aluminum foil and then uncovered for the last 5 minutes to encourage browning).

Helpful Tips

Make the dairy-free ricotta cheese: cashew or almond a day or two in advance. For a quicker option, you can also use a store-bought brand such as Kite Hill, but it’s much cheaper to make your own.

Layering the noodles. Slightly overlap the butternut squash noodle edges. If I have some smaller pieces, I practice my Tetris skills and fit them in where I can so that it forms a ‘layer’. I typically end up with three layers of the butternut squash and two of the meat/red sauce/spinach mixture.

Use a mandoline slicer. While you technically can cut the butternut squash by hand, it’s very hard to get evenly sliced pieces with a knife. The more evenly sliced the squash is the more consistently it’ll be cooked throughout the lasagna.

More Butternut Squash Recipes

Lasagna With Butternut Squash Noodles And Spinach

5 from 3 votes
A baking sheet of lasagna with butternut squash noodles and spinach next to a serving on a plate.
This butternut squash lasagna with spinach is a vegetable-focused lasagna yet tastes indulgent. It's gluten-free and dairy-free but is enjoyed by all eaters.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Serving Size 8

Ingredients
 

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced about 1 cup
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef or substitute, see notes below
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 25.5 oz jar pasta sauce set aside 1 cup
  • 1 cup almond ricotta divided
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
  • Peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler, then cut just above the bulb. Slice that long piece into four pieces.
  • Place each of the four pieces of butternut squash with the flat side down and safely run them through a mandoline slicer until you're left with a pile of thin butternut squash noodles. Side note: Mandolines are very sharp, so either use a safety guard or safety gloves to ensure you keep all your fingertips.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, cook the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the meat and cook until browned, then add in the fresh spinach. It'll look like a lot at first, but it'll drastically reduce in size once cooked. Remove from the heat, and add the tomato sauce (minus the 1 reserved cup).
  • Layer the lasagna by adding a little bit of the reserved sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, followed by a layer of butternut squash noodles. Add a few spoonfuls of the meat and spinach mixture on top of the butternut squash, followed by ricotta dollops (or spread them out) to only one of the meat and spinach layers, reserving the rest of the ricotta for the top. Repeat this process with the noodles and meat sauce until you use them up.
  • Spread the reserved tomato sauce and the remainder of the ricotta cheese over the top layer of the butternut squash sheets.
  • Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Allow to cool to room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

See the blog post for helpful tips about layering the lasagna and getting thin, even butternut squash slices.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

No yellow onion? – use white or sweet onion instead.
No ground beef? Ground chicken or ground turkey also works well in this recipe.
Make it vegetarian – use brown or green lentils. You’ll need about 2 to 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils. Add them when you add the meat in the recipe.
Make it nut-free – You can use garlic hummus instead of dairy-free ricotta, but only add it to the filling and not on top as well.
Add-ins – Italian seasoning.
Not dairy-free? – use dairy ricotta in the layers and parmesan cheese or grated mozzarella cheese on top (but you’ll want to cook it covered with aluminum foil and then uncovered for the last 5 minutes to encourage browning).

2 Comments

  1. This lasagna is outstanding! The only thing I found challenging was getting the butternut squash cut just right and not to thick but i am so impressed at how delicious this recipe is .thanks for sharing!?

    1. Thanks, Argus – glad to hear you enjoyed it! Yes, the easiest way to get consistently thin slices is with a mandoline slicer.

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