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Lasagna doesn’t always have to be red sauce — instead, try combining some of the savory fall veggies of the season. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

We love butternut squash soup as much as the next person. But kind of like hitting your limit with zucchini bread when that squash is going berserker in the summer, there’s just so much of the same soup a person is willing to slurp.

Seasonal veggies on stands now, like butternut squash and sage, get a new star turn at the table in this lasagna recipe. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

And yet, we feel compelled to buy fall’s calling-card gourd every time we see a nice looking specimen on a farm stand. What’s a squash-loving cook to do with all this autumnal abundance? Bake lasagna.

We’ve tweaked this recipe over years of fits and tries, finding the right balance of sweet squash to savory elements, nestled in between alternating layers of creamy béchamel and ricotta cheese. The trick with the squash is to slice it on the thin side — about a quarter inch thick — and then roast it before layering into the lasagna.

A few other touches that make this a crowd-pleaser every time: lightly toast a handful of pine nuts and fry a handful of that sage you’ve still got growing in pots. Along with the layer of caramelized leeks, it makes for an autumnal, savory, hearty dinner that you can serve immediately, or freeze for future you when you have one of those days with zero extra time.

Another great piece of this recipe: You don’t have to do it all at once. Roast the squash and caramelize the onions a day or two before. Then, when you’re ready to compose the whole dish, just take them out of the ‘fridge 15 or 20 minutes before you’re ready to layer up. Hit up your favorite farm stand (we’ve been rocking the honesty box over at Kilb’s on Shelter Island) and get this twist on a classic white lasagna into fall dinner rotation.

Butternut squash, leek and pine nut lasagna

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Serves 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 9 oz box oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 medium to large butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and pulp scooped and discarded, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 2 leeks cut in half lengthwise, dark green part discarded, washed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 16 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese, fresh if you can get it
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups bechamel sauce (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb fontina or mild provolone cheese

To make the béchamel

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups whole milk, heated
  • 4 tbsp flour, sifted
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss the squash sliced with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay flat — avoid overlapping — and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • In a large pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add in the leeks and sauté until limp and slightly golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
  • Using the same pan, melt the rest of the butter. Add in the fresh sage leaves and cook on medium high until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan onto a paper-towel lined plate.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and egg until thoroughly combines. Mix in the grated Parmigiana-Reggiano. Set aside.
  • Turn the oven temperature to 350°F.
  • To assemble, line the bottom of a lasagna or rectangular baking dish with about a half cup of the béchamel. Top with three lasagna noodles. Add a layer of the ricotta mixture and top with a layer of the roasted butternut squash. Sprinkle with the fried sage leaves and toasted pine nuts, reserving about a tablespoon or so of each. Add another layer of noodles, top with ricotta, and add a layer of caramelized leeks. Top with another layer of noodles. Spoon one more layer of béchamel and top with fontina or provolone. Scatter the remaining sages leaves and pine nuts.
  • Cover with foil and bake until cheese in melted and lasagna is hot throughout, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Serve immediately.

To make the béchamel

  • In a medium, deep pan, melt the butter.
  • Add the flour and whisk until thoroughly incorporated into the butter and the mixture starts to thicken.
  • Slowly add in the hot milk about a 1/4 cup at a time, whisking until each batch is incorporated and the mixture is thick.
  • Add in salt and pepper to taste. Should make about 2 1/2 cups.
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