Butternut Squash Lasagna


Butternut Squash Lasagna is cheesy, chewy and so satisfying with pops of sweet, silky butternut squash.


As a self-proclaimed comfort food connoisseur, I find it highly disturbing that I have never made one of the most classic comfort foods of all time: Lasagna.

How is this possible?

I blame others.

See, my Mom makes the most homey, yummy lasagna around. It’s chock full of savory tomato sauce and ground beef, and employs her secret technique of using cottage cheese instead of ricotta to make the creamy, cheesy filling even more decadent and delicious.

Well I guess that’s not so secret anymore, now is it?

If I’m not eating my Mom’s version, signore Ben is dishing up his ultimate, traditional lasagna packed with spicy marinara sauce, loads of mozzarella cheese and seasoned ground beef. This is Ben’s signature dish, if he does say so himself, which he routinely whips up and hand delivers to any friend, neighbor or family-member in need. (It’s really very sweet.)

I guess between enjoying the two of them, I’ve just never had the need to give layering sauce, pasta and cheese a go. Until today.

Today, on a chilly, rainy day off from work, I decided enough was enough, and combined smoky marinara sauce, hearty spinach, creamy cheese and sweet butternut squash to make an irresistible Italian, comfort food casserole: Butternut Squash Lasagna!


I figured if I was going to give lasagna a go – I was going to make it unique and out of the proverbial box. This recipe definitely fit the bill, and turned out fantastic!

My number one fear when thinking about making lasagna from scratch was not getting a clean cut and having the filling run out everywhere which, thank goodness, did not happen. That and it tasting like crap, which also did not happen.


Now I’m not going to lie – this lasagna took some work. No 30 minute or less meal here, but I think the end result was worth the time it took to put together.

DSC_0956 DSC_0957

Like a traditional lasagna recipe, marinara sauce, lasagna sheets and cheese filling are layered on top of one another.

DSC_0959 DSC_0961

What makes this meatless Butternut Squash Lasagna recipe extra special though is the addition of naturally sweet butternut squash, and a satisfying sautéed spinach filling that gave the dish staying power.

DSC_0964 DSC_0965

DSC_0967 DSC_0969

Homemade marinara sauce made extra flavorful by using roasted tomatoes lends a flavorful kick, and just when you think you can’t fit anything else into the dish…

DSC_0971 DSC_0974

DSC_0976 DSC_0977

a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese THAT SMELLED LIKE HEAVEN while baking, juuuuuust fits in on top.


60 minutes at 375!!!!


Check out those layah’s!


Butternut Squash Lasagna

Serves 6


Butternut Squash Lasagna is cheesy, chewy and so satisfying with pops of sweet, silky butternut squash.


  • 1-1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 6 no-boil lasagna sheets
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Spinach filling:
    • Non-stick cooking spray
    • 1-1/2 cups onion, minced
    • up to 1/4 cup water
    • 5 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • Cheese filling:
    • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese (1.5 ounces)
    • 4 teaspoons dried parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 egg
    • 15oz part-skim ricotta cheese (or half ricotta/half plain Greek yogurt)
  • Marinara Sauce: (makes 3 cups total)
    • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • salt & pepper
    • 1-14.5oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
    • 1-14.5oz can crushed tomatoes


  1. For the butternut squash: Place butternut squash in a microwave-safe bowl, add 1 Tablespoon water and microwave for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
  2. For the spinach filling: Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and sauté onions until tender. If onions start to burn, add in water 1 Tablespoon at a time. Add spinach to the onions and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and set aside.
  3. For the cheese filling: Combine mozzarella, parsley, salt, pepper, egg and ricotta cheese in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. For the marinara sauce: Heat extra virgin olive oil in a medium-size pot over medium heat. Add garlic, basil, parsley and oregano. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, then add in remaining sauce ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
  5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8x8 casserole with non-stick spray, then spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce in the bottom. Add 2 lasagna sheets, then spread 1 cup cheese filling over the noodles.
  6. Arrange squash over the cheese, then spread 3/4 cup sauce on top. (In the pictures I accidently separated the squash into two layers. Add all the squash in this layer instead!)
  7. Add 2 lasagna sheets, then spread 1 cup cheese filling over the noodles.
  8. Drain any excess moisture from the spinach filling, arrange over the cheese, then spread 3/4 cup sauce on top.
  9. Add 2 lasagna sheets, then spread the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cover with foil.
  10. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 30 more minutes. Allow lasagna to cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


Shortcuts and time saving tips:

  1. Use frozen, pre-cut butternut squash
  2. Use pre-made or jarred marinara sauce
  3. Make this dish the night before and pop in the oven the next day.
Adapted from Cooking Light

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


Now back in the old days, I would have have done straight for the center piece of lasagna, but now that I’m older and more mature () I can appreciate the rare delicacy that is zee corner piece.


Oh yes. Crunchy, chewy crust on the outside, tender, cheesy goodness on the inside.


I will still fight for a middle cinnamon roll though. Don’t get it twisted.


On the side I served some freshly overcooked green beans.


And any good Italian dinner’s #1 sidekick: Parmesan Garlic Bread.


That’s just a slice of bread spread with butter, dusted with garlic powder and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, then broiled ’til golden brown. Gosh I love this stuff.


A meal fit for a comfort-food Queen! Definitely out of the norm for me in terms of time and effort it took to prepare, but I’m glad I gave lasagna making a go for the first time with this recipe. It was savory, sweet and oh-so cheesy.



My favorite comfort food is:

a. Mac & Cheese

b. Lasagna

c. Mashed potatoes & gravy

d. Other, I’ll tell ya’ below!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Brin Dather 10.17.2011

    i am a sucker for homemade grilled cheese.
    if marcos in iowa city delivered i would have a grilled cheese EVERYDAY!

  2. Blair 10.17.2011

    Green bean cassarole for sure! =))) Just makes me think of being home during the holidays!

  3. Lisa 10.17.2011

    beef stroganoff, made in a crockpot. my fiance got me hooked :)

  4. Oh gosh, that lasagna looks amazing!!

  5. erika mc 10.17.2011

    I would have to say mashed potatoes (no gravy) and ham.

    I was wondering what your favorite things are from Trader Joe’s. I haven’t been before and am making my first trip this weekend. Recommendations?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.18.2011

      Hmmm, lets see…Australian licorice, mini chocolate chip cookies, frozen steel-cut oatmeal, pizza dough, pesto, bruschetta, any of the frozen Indian entrees, any apps, frozen Orange Chicken, frozen sweet potato gnocchi with sage butter sauce, any of their pizza, mixed nuts…really you can’t go wrong with most things!

    • Megan 10.18.2011

      Cinnamon grahams!
      They are above the frozen vegetables by the other cracker/cookies.

  6. Trisha 10.17.2011

    Well, there wasn’t an option for all of the above so I’ll have to go with mashed potatoes & gravy. Back when I was a SUPER picky eater and would eat neither mac & cheese NOR lasagna (I know, I know), mashed potatoes were my go to meal of choice. Just can’t go wrong with that yummy goodness.
    Can’t wait to try this yummy looking lasagna!

    • girliefriend 10.18.2011

      I want an all of the above option too!

  7. That looks great!! I like the twist and will need to try this one! We eat lasagna at least a couple times a month..(my hubby is a HUGE fan)! I have a really fast lasagna recipe I’ll have to share on my blog sometime! I made it by accident – and it is yum-o!!!!

  8. Mmmm that looks so so amazing!!
    Any kind of pasta is my kind of comfort food but this could be the perfect comfort food for me!
    I might just have to make this soon, blow the normal student idea!
    Thank you for posting this :-)

  9. shandy (@webgals) 10.17.2011

    While I love me some mashed potatoes (sans gravy) or Mac and Cheese, I’m going to say Other: My mom’s goulash with baking powder biscuits (and if my sister happens to see this…yes, it’s true).

  10. Candy M. 10.17.2011

    My favorite comfort food is anything Mexican. And I’m a North Carolina gal, about as far from Mexico (culturally) as you get. ;)

  11. Jeri 10.17.2011

    Mac & Cheese from The Cafe in Ames.

  12. Cristy 10.17.2011

    spaghetti and meatballs!

  13. Cristy 10.17.2011

    BTW…this looks DIVINE. So much better than the butternut squash w/bechamel one. This is way healthier! And looks so so so so good!!!!!

  14. erica 10.17.2011

    mac & cheese, mashed potato and gravy, tater tots :)

  15. Nancy 10.17.2011

    Yum yum!

  16. Oh boy! I make lasagna occasionally and LOVE it, but I’ve never tried it with butternut squash! Thanks for posting this recipe. I’ll be sure to try it soon!

  17. Mark 10.17.2011

    I just made a butternut squash lasagna the other day! Though, it wasn’t a true lasagna; I subbed out pasta noodles for mandolin sliced sheets of butternut squash. Otherwise many of the same flavors as yours. Packed with flavor, for sure.

  18. My mom always uses cottage cheese in her lasagna, too! It makes it so yummy!

    This lasagna looks really yummy! I need to try adding your spinach mixture to lasagna next time I make it! YUM!

  19. YUM! Your little Garfield pic made me giggle.

  20. Lauren 10.17.2011

    I LOVE this recipe. I won’t make lasagna any other way.

  21. Your lasagna looks delicious. I am laughing so hard at your title & topic because of this: http://mealsandmovesblog.com/2010/08/26/theres-a-first-time-for-everything/

  22. Candace 10.17.2011

    Definitely lasagna. My mom makes hers with cottage cheese too. It’s my favorite dish that she makes. A friend thought I was crazy when I told her my mom didn’t use ricotta. Yours looked delicious. If you had any leftovers, they will probably taste even more amazing tomorrow!

  23. Jane 10.17.2011

    I made a chicken lasagna from Taste of Home’s- Light and Tasty magazine, and it’s awesome! They don’t make the mag anymore, but it’s on their website, just type in “chicken lasagna” and it’s the light and tasty one. Lasagna is the only thing I will eat that has cottage cheese in it ((shiver)). :D

  24. Lesley 10.17.2011

    My favorite comfort food is chicken pot pie or mac & cheese. Or any mom casserole, lol. Or brownies. Okay, I gotta stop before this gets out of hand.

  25. Great job chica!! I love stuffing, but only one a year. My favorite comfort food is Mexican food for sure. Does that count as a comfort food?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.18.2011

      Oh definitely! Nothing better than a cheese enchilada dripping with sauce. :)

  26. Ahhhh. You beat us to this post by a couple days! Haha. There is a butternut squash lasagna in the latest issue of Rachael Ray that we have on our menu to try this week. We should have made them the same night, and then met out at the flagpole to have a butternut lasagna face-off!

  27. Lexi 10.17.2011

    I don’t think I have a comfort food unless you consider all foods comfort food.:)

    But…I wanted to comment because I have a lasagna suggestion. Last fall, I became slightly obsessed with pepper jack cheese after trying a pizza from Pizza Pit in Ames with pepper jack cheese on it rather than mozzarella. TO.DIE.FOR! So, I made lasanga one day (cottage cheese is THE only way to go!) and put slices of pepper jack cheese in it rather than mozzarella. OMG. So good! Just a suggestion out there as it’s about the only one I have since I cook a decent meal about once every 3 months.

  28. That lasagna looks AMAZING! And I love that its meat free! My favorite comfort food would have to be mac n cheese! I love it!

  29. Fried turkey and collard greens! Deep South Represent! ;p

  30. Lindsey 10.17.2011

    Yumm! I finally mastered lasagna – it was always too runny but my last two batches were perfect :)
    My comfort foods are grilled cheese, soups and chili :) Oh and pancakes in the morning!

  31. Wow! This lasagna recipe looks fantastic! I’ve made cooking light’s lasagna margherite recipe before, but I’ve always wanted to add a few veggies in. Yumm, this recipe looks super cheesy and hearty.

  32. b! my grandma/mom’s lasagna. uses cottage cheese instead of ricotta too. so amazing.

  33. Girl I totally hear ya about the famous corner piece. Corner pieces, w/ crispy edges, are the best eva! My favorite comfort foods are pot pie, corn casserole, chili (w/ cornbread – duh) and pancakes!

  34. Rebecca 10.17.2011

    My favorite comfort food is either my mom’s fried okra or her chicken and dumplings. But even using the same recipes, mine never quite taste as good as hers.

  35. Rebeca 10.17.2011

    That looks so good! And I have butternut squash in my fridge.. Hm. Mac and cheese is for SURE my favorite comfort food, except I almost always order it wherever we go to eat. Maybe I’m a little too comfortable all the time :)

  36. Dawn Marie 10.18.2011

    Biscuits and Gravy are my fav as well as Chicken and dumplings!

  37. Lauren 10.18.2011

    My mom totally does the cottage cheese thing too, it’s the BEST! Must be a Midwest thing- I’m from Michigan. This looks equally amazing, I have wanted to make a veggie lasagna for years, thanks!

  38. Hope 10.18.2011

    I’ve been on a butternut squash kick lately and I’ve been looking for recipes to make with it. This would be perfect! :) It looks amazing!

    My favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and Mexican food.

    • joe 10.18.2011

      Try making squash soup. There are tons of recipes on the net, mine uses two butternuts, an entire POUND of fried, crumbled bacon, three cups of chicken stock, a little sage, a pint of half and half. Owning a wand blender makes this a snap, and you can make it in bulk, freeze and use for months – winning!

  39. Katie 10.18.2011

    I believe we called that cheese toast growing up and we ate it along with beans & weinies. Butternut squash lasagna is on my list to make yet this fall. I have some pumpkin lasagna noodles and butternut squash sauce that I would like to incorporate. We don’t really care for “regular” lasagna (with ground beef) but we have a favorite that includes alfredo sauce, chicken, fresh spinach, basil, red peppers, feta cheese and I also have a seafood one that we really like. My favorite comfort foods include soups (chicken noodle, tomato, shrimp chowder), warm fruit desserts, and basically anything with apple and pumpkin this time of year. Summer comfort foods include fresh juicy fruits and strawberries or peaches and ice cream.

  40. My favorite comfort food is a chicken casserole. My husband grew up with it and now we make it all the time!

    Your lasagne looks great, but ugh, the work! :)

  41. BeccaV 10.18.2011

    I’ve never made lasagna either! I’ve made lots of variations on it, lasagna roll ups, tex-mex lasagna and shortcut lasagna, but never the real thing. It just seems like too much work, and I love to cook.
    My favorite comfort food is chicken stew with biscuits from Ina Garten!

  42. Juani 10.18.2011

    Your lasagne and garlic bread combo is seriously making my mouth water,since lasagne is my all-time favorite food,no matter what type (but especially my mom and aunt’s).Although my mom’s mac and cheese is a VERY close 2nd.

  43. wooooooooooah my gosh this looks fantastic. i love lasagna, but i totally agree – i rarely make it, and only eat it when mom or grammy makes it. i did make it twice with lean ground turkey, green and yellow squash, and FIG BALSAMIC. yum yum and yum. just added this one to my menu for next week =)

  44. Sarah 10.18.2011

    I would have never sad this as a kid, but my current favorite comfort food is grilled cheese and tomato soup. yum!

  45. Terin 10.18.2011

    Tator tot casserole….mmm!!!

  46. Machelle 10.18.2011

    my fav comfort food would have to be my moms fried chicken, mashed taters & milk gravy. i don’t normally make lasagna either, cuz one of my BFF’s makes it and saves me a hunk. she always makes hers a day ahead, bakes it, fridges it, then reheats it in the oven the next day. it turns out so darn perfect ya can’t believe it! i occasionally bake up a frozen Stauffers lasagna, it’s actually pretty darn good!

  47. joe 10.18.2011

    My experiences in making lasagna have confirmed that it is usually cheaper to order lasagna from a good restaurant than it is to make it at home. Excellent lasagna usually has ground veal and ricotta cheese, both pretty pricey ingredients. Hyvee blows out the Stouffer’s family size for ten bucks occasionally, so I’ll buy that, cut in into four pieces and use one quarter for a meal. Easier and cheaper to make are typical cheese and meat shells or manicotti with marinara. Eggplant and zucchini go well with these heavier dishes. Ever had a lasagna with sardines? Try it! I ordered some at a little bistro and it was surprisingly good.

  48. I used to make lasagna all.the.time with loads of cheese and seasoned beef. My husband misses those days. I have made a handful of vegan lasagnas of late, and I have to say, they are pretty epic as well. My husband agrees, but still misses the cheese!

    My favorite comfort food would probably be a bowl of squash soup with some crusty bread on the side. Seriously – I could eat that stuff every day in the Fall/Winter.

  49. Karina 10.18.2011

    Why is everyone hating on ricotta? I have to confess, I’ve never liked cottage cheese…my mother is Italian, and we both make our lasagnas with ricotta. It would be like going against everything she ever taught me if I used cottage cheese. What is the advantage in using it?

  50. Anything with cheese! I’m seriously addicted… mozz sticks, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, quesadillas… it’s a problem ;)

    I’ve been thinking about making a lasagna for a while now, but I don’t want to make the time commitment haha.

Leave a Comment