Growing a human is hard work! Though I’m craving homemade and hearty meals, finding the energy to pull something together has been difficult. Luckily, today was daylight saving time, and the extra hour of sleep left me feeling refreshed and energetic for the first time in five months! I decided to take advantage of the extra hour, and surge in energy, by finally trying out a recipe I’ve been playing around with in my head for a while – Butternut Squash Lasagna. This is the ultimate in fall comfort food. Warm, filling, flavorful, and great as leftovers! Unlike most of my recipes, this is not paleo since it uses dairy. However, it is still low carb, gluten free, and packed full of veggies and clean ingredients.
Making the “Noodles”
As much as I love cooking, I really shouldn’t be left alone with sharp objects. After a nasty accident a few years ago, I’ve become very cautious with my fingers in the kitchen. As a result, I tend to be a bit wary of using a mandolin for food prep, however if you have much better hand-eye coordination than I do, a mandolin or even a very good knife can be used to make the noodles. In my case, I took the easy way out, and used my vegetable sheet cutter attachment for my Kitchenaid Stand mixer. While it may be a bit pricey, it has become one of my new favorite kitchen gadgets! And saving my fingers from more stitches is totally worth it.
Whether using the sheet cutter attachment, a mandolin, or a knife, cut the butternut squash into long flat “noodles”. My “noodles” were about about 2 1/2 – 3″ wide and 11″ long, but cut yours to the length of your baking dish. I used 12 of the noodles to make my lasagna.
Making the Filling
Since finding out I was pregnant, I’ve been able to integrate some dairy back into my diet. While I know I’m normally able to get calcium from other foods, pregnancy has made keeping some of those foods down a challenge. In order to make sure I’m getting all the nutrients the baby and I need, I’ve made adaptations and added back in some food groups. That being said, I’m still very choosy about the ingredients I use; particularly when it comes to my dairy and meat.
For the cheese ingredients, I was lucky enough to find homemade goat cheese ricotta, and organic part skim shredded mozzarella. I also chose a high quality grated parmesan, but couldn’t find one that was organic. While I’ve seen other butternut squash recipes on the internet use various types of meat, I chose to use a grass fed chorizo. I love how the spiciness of the sausage meat balances out the sweetness of the butternut squash.
Normally, I would use a homemade marinara sauce, but I really didn’t have the energy to do that. Instead, I used a homemade, all natural sauce from one of my local markets. The ingredients were all natural, and basically what I would put in my own sauce (tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, basil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper). If you have the time or energy, homemade is always best, but I’m happy to take a shortcut these days when it doesn’t compromise quality.
Putting it all Together
Assembling the lasagna was fun and easy. I actually did it in the morning and stored it (covered) in the fridge until I was ready to cook dinner. This could be assembled and kept in the fridge for up to one day. In a 9 x 11″ casserole, I layered the meat and tomato sauce first, followed by laying three noodle sheets in the dish (this covered the entire bottom surface of my dish). Next, I spread dollops of the ricotta mixture on top of the “noodles”. The mixture doesn’t spread easily, so it will be fairly clumpy. Don’t worry, it will mix well once baked. On top of the ricotta, I sprinkled a layer of the shredded mozzarella, and then another layer of the meat sauce, and topped this off again with three squash noodles. I repeated the layering until i ran out of my noodles. On top of this final layer, I spread sauce, and reserved a small amount of ricotta and mozzarella for later.
At this point, I covered the dish, and put the lasagna in the fridge. However, if you are making this to eat immediately, you can put it directly in the oven and start baking. Cook time will take 60 minutes, stopping after 30 minutes to uncover the lasagna, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Warning, while cooking – this will smell AMAZING. My poor dog sat whining by the kitchen door for an hour hoping I was cooking for her. She still hasn’t forgiven me.
The Finished Product
This was one of the best meals I’ve made in a long time. I honestly couldn’t tell that I didn’t use actual noodles! The lasagna came out perfectly. Warm, filling, flavorful, and with a crunchy cheesy top layer. It was the perfect meal on a nice crisp fall evening. Even better, I have enough leftovers to take to work for lunch all week! This is going to become a regular dish in my fall meal rotation.
- 12 Butternut Squash Noodles
- 16 oz marinara sauce
- 4 chorizo sausages, de-cased (or 16 oz chorizo)
- 2/3 cup goats milk ricotta
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped sage
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- salt & pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Make the butternut squash noodles. Noodles should be 2 1/2 - 3" wide, and run the length of your casserole dish.
- Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and drizzle in the olive oil. Saute the chorizo in the olive oil until it is browned. Add in the garlic, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low, and add in the marinara sauce. Cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg and 1 tbsp of the sage in a medium mixing bowl. Mix together until a creamy paste is produced. Add in salt and pepper (I did a pinch of each).
- When the meat sauce has cooked, remove from heat, and start to assemble the lasagna. In a 9 x 11 casserole dish, spoon in a thin layer of the meat sauce. Top with three of the noodles, to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Dollop 1/4 of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles,don't worry if it won't spread smoothly. Cover in 1/4 of the mozzarella, and then layer on more of the meat sauce before laying down another layer of noodles.
- Repeat until you lay down your last layer of noodles. Spoon the remainder of the meat sauce on top. Set aside the remaining 1/4 of the ricotta mixture, 1/4 of the shredded mozzarella, and 1 tbsp of sage. These will be layered on later. At this point, you can either cover the lasagna and refrigerate for up to one day, or cook immediately.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the covered casserole dish in the oven for 30 minutes to bake.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lasagna from the oven, and uncover. Dollop with the remaining ricotta, and cover with the last of the mozzarella. Sprinkle on the last of the sage, and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!
Refrigerate or freeze remaining portions for later!