Hi everyone! Today I want to share a delicious recipe recipe that’s been a staple in my family for years. What’s surprises me most about Vegetarian Butternut Squash Lasagna is that the original recipe came from my dad! You’d never know because my mom now takes the fame for her iconic veggie lasagna. It’s even been our Thanksgiving dinner for a long as I can remember!
This all came about in the 80s, when my parents were first dating. Since my mom’s a vegetarian, my dad made her a veggie lasagna, very similar to the recipe below. One of the staple ingredients in the dish is zucchini. But my dad’s roommate saw the lasagna and thought they were pickles (or jokingly said so anyway)! Ever since, we’ve nicknamed this recipe “Pickle Lasagna”…but I thought better of making it the name of this post! 🙂
Vegetarian Butternut Squash Lasagna varies based on the season. For instance, in the summer, I don’t use butternut squash at all! Instead, I use a marinara sauce because I don’t have any squash in the garden to make the sauce out of.
In the spring, you can add other veggies like asparagus and in the summer, bell peppers, spinach, and of course zucchini. 😉 As fall approaches, broccoli, kale, and diced butternut squash work well too. Regardless of the season, I always use shredded carrots and zucchini, but everything else varies.
Notes on the Sauce
Any pasta sauce will work for this recipe, but in order for it to be a true butternut lasagna, the secret ingredient is the sauce. Although you can buy some pretty good creamy squash sauces in the store (Trader Joe’s has a good one in the fall), I prefer making my own. It’s really easy and takes this lasagna to a whole new level. I’ve included the recipe below.
Will this recipe work with meat?
Absolutely! If you happen to like meat in your lasagna, feel free! On Thanksgiving we always have one pan of veggie and one pan with ground turkey. I’ve also made it with ground beef which works as well. Just brown up the meat with some onions, salt, and pepper and sprinkle it on each layer with the veggies.
What kind of cottage cheese should I use?
Until recently, I didn’t realize how many ingredients get added to most conventional cottage cheeses. When I made this recipe last weekend, the only two kinds at the store had a lot of extras, so I worked with what I had and chose the more local brand (though ingredient-wise it wasn’t much better). Since then, I did a little more research and found a cottage cheese scorecard from the Cornucopia Institute. I encourage you to check it out along with their other scorecards! Basically, they rate various products in a category based on their ingredients, whether or not they’re organic, and other such criteria.
Why do you use uncooked noodles?
Because it works and it saves time and dishes. Simple as that. There’s just no reason why you have to cook them first! And I’m not talking about “oven-ready” noodles either. Truth be told, all lasagna noodles are oven ready. I know it might sound weird if you’ve never tried this before, but trust me–it really works!
What to Serve with Vegetarian Butternut Squash Lasagna
- 12-15 whole wheat lasagna noodles (uncooked)
- 1 batch Creamy Butternut Pasta Sauce (recipe below)
- 2 large carrots (shredded)
- 1 medium zucchini (thinly sliced)
- 16 oz fat free cottage cheese
- 16 oz shredded mozzarella
- 2 cups spinach or Swiss chard (chopped)
- 1 cup mushrooms (chopped )
- Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly coat the bottom of a 9×13 pan with sauce.
- Cover the bottom of the pan with four or five uncooked lasagna noodles–three or four vertically and one horizontally. You will need to break the horizontal one to fit properly.
- Put another layer of sauce over the pasta and add dollops of cottage cheese. Cover with zucchini slices and sprinkle with shredded carrots, chopped mushrooms, and chopped greens.
- Add another layer of noodles and repeat the previous step. Keep adding layers until you run out of noodles and filling (three layers total).
- Generously sprinkle the top with shredded mozzarella. (Don't worry if it's enormously tall and piled up over the sides of the dish–it will reduce as it bakes!)
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for about another 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. You could also broil it for the last few minutes to help with the browning.
- Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Creamy Butternut Pasta Sauce
- Immersion blender
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 30 oz butternut squash puree
- 15 oz tomato sauce (nothing added)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- ½ cup coconut cream
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (chopped)
- 1 Tbsp fresh sage (chopped)
- 1 ½ tsp Celtic sea salt
- Black pepper (freshly cracked)
Butternut squash puree
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Take a large butternut squash and slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds.
- Place the squash face down on the pan and bake until it is easily pierced with a fork. Baking time will vary greatly depending on the size of the squash. I usually check mine after about 30 minutes and go from there.
- After the squash is cooked, transfer the halves to a cooling rack until they are cool enough to handle.
- Scoop out the squash from the skins and place it into a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat the squash to break up any large pieces.
- Then transfer the squash to a food processor and blend until it forms a puree. Measure out 30 oz to use in the sauce.
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Then add the onions and sauté until they become translucent and soft (about 5-8 minutes). If you wish, cook them longer until they caramelize for a sweeter flavor.
- Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Stir often so the garlic doesn't burn.
- Then add the squash, tomato sauce, salt, and veggie stock. Stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- On medium heat, bring the sauce to a slow boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Mix in the coconut milk, cinnamon and herbs. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove from heat and serve over pasta or use it as sauce for lasagna. The sauce will remain fresh in the refrigerator for about five days or in the freezer for one month. If freezing, be sure to leave some space at the top of the jar–otherwise it will expand and break!