Lemons and Basil

Three Cheese Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

If you’ve followed along for long, you likely know that I genuinely love healthy foods. But I also enjoy balance, and there are no foods {in my book} that are altogether off limits. So while, I love eating whole foods, loaded with veggies, I also know there is an absolute time and a place for comfort food, and I can’t help but feel like pasta is the quintessential comfort food. Of course if comfort and healthy can be combined… even better! And I must say, this Three Cheese Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna is proof that comfort food can be healthy!

Yes… it is loaded with a blend of Italian cheeses, aged cheddar, Ricotta, and even a little parmesan {so technically this should be *Four Cheese Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna*}, but among the vast array of bubbling cheese, is an abundance of butternut squash and spinach, layered amidst whole grain pasta.


Clearly we know that butternut squash and spinach have an abundance of nutrition to offer this dish, but these whole grain lasagna noodles from Ronzoni, contribute their fair share of nutritional benefits as well. Not only are they preservative and MSG free, but each serving contains 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, which really ups the overall protein and fiber this veggie lasagna has to offer.

But aside from the nutritional benefits of this vegetarian lasagna, lets talk flavor. I love pairing robust savory flavors with inherently sweet accompaniments. The garlic, onions, and fresh sage perfectly enhance the sweetness from the butternut squash – add in the smoked paprika and other seasonings, and this sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and savory, with a little spice! Layer it with a multitude of cheese, spinach, and whole wheat pasta, and Voilà – comfort food meets healthy!

We ate ours with a small side salad and a slice of beer bread. If you haven’t tried beer bread, I strong recommend it! I am completely hook on this Five Ingredient Beer Bread from Half Baked Harvest – it literally comes together in five minutes and turns out perfect every time. As much as I love my bread machine, this beer bread has become my recent go-to when we have company!

BENEFITS OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH:

BENEFITS OF SPINACH:

Three Cheese Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Three Cheese Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna, where comfort food meets healthy!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SAUCE:
  • 2 cups roasted and mashed butternut squash (approx one 2 lb medium squash)
  • 2 ounces aged cheddar, grated
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • SPINACH FILLING:
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup shredded cheese Italian blend (Kraft, Sargento, and Kroger all have versions of this)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan
  • OTHER INGREDIENTS:
  • 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 1½ cup Italian blend cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the squash in half length wise and remove seeds, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake for 40-45 minutes with squash face down. (This can be done ahead of time.)
  3. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package direction, once cooked, rinse in cold water and drain. I let my noodles sit in cool water while I made the sauce and spinach filling so they didn’t get too sticky.
  4. Once the squash has cooked, remove and allow to cool for 15 minutes or so. Remove the skin (should come off fairly easily now that it's cooked, if it doesn’t, use a spoon to scrape our flesh) and measure out 2 cubs cooked/mashed squash.
  5. Add the cooked squash to a food processor, along with aged cheddar, almond milk, and ricotta cheese. Puree until smooth.
  6. While the cooked squash cools, add coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook until the onion is soft and translucent, approx 4-5 minutes.
  7. Transfer the butternut squash puree to the skillet with onions, then add in all herbs and seasonings, fresh sage, dried thyme, smoked paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
  8. Stir to combine and cook 2-3 minutes, allowing the seasonings to blend well. Sauce should be smooth and fairly thick.
  9. For the spinach filling, add ½ tbsp coconut oil to medium sauce pan, once oil is hot, add in fresh spinach and cook until leaves are wilted, stirring frequently. Remove cooked spinach from heat and set aside to cool.
  10. Add cooked spinach to medium bowl with 1 cup ricotta cheese, ½ cup Italian cheese blend, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese, stir until well combined.
  11. To assemble lasagna, prepare a 9x13 casserole dish (mine was approx 8.5 x 12 and I had to slightly trim my lasagna noodles), grease the bottom of the casserole dish lightly with coconut oil cooking spray. Spread ⅓ of butternut squash filling on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with Italian cheese blend, then top with three cooked lasagna noodles, try to avoid overlapping noodles.
  12. Next, spread half of spinach filling over the noodles, followed by another light layer of shredded Italian cheese blend, then a layer of noodles (three).
  13. Spread another layer of butternut squash mixture (approx ⅓), then sprinkle light layer of shredded Italian Cheese Blend and top with cooked noodles (three).
  14. Add the remaining half of spinach filling over the noodles, spread evenly, then top with Italian cheese blend and final layer of noodles (three).
  15. Top noodles with remaining ⅓ butternut squash sauce, and sprinkle with the last of the Italian Cheese Blend, approx ½ cup.
  16. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 min. Remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes.
  17. Allow lasagna to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving, top with fresh sage if desired.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 237 Fat: 11.8 Saturated fat: 7.3 Unsaturated fat: .4 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 2.1 Sugar: 1.4 Sodium: 251 Fiber: 1.4 Protein: 15.4 Cholesterol: 27.6
3.5.3208

Nutrition info taken from Livestrong.com