December 6, 2022

Lecafe moustache

Delicious food

Just-baked butternut squash lasagna with greens and mushrooms.

Butternut Squash Lasagna (No-Boil Noodles)

A slice of butternut squash lasagna with greens and mushrooms.

Many years ago, I discovered a magical butternut squash sauce for pasta. It’s a simple recipe that comes together quickly and is loved by all, its exceptional creamy texture evoking bechamel, but with more flavor thanks to a hint of fresh sage.

Over the years, I’ve used the sauce in other ways, namely in this baked penne recipe, and most recently in lasagna in place of tomato sauce. It works beautifully and pairs well with many other flavors and ingredients from caramelized leeks and hot Italian sausage to wilted greens and sautéed mushrooms. Here, I’m using sautéed Swiss chard and oyster mushrooms, but this recipe is easily customizable to what you have on hand and prefer.

What I love about this recipe (and lasagna in general) is that you can assemble it ahead of time and bake it when you are ready. This past week, in anticipation of friends coming over for dinner on Friday, I made the lasagna on Thursday afternoon, covered the pan in foil, and stuck it in the fridge until the following evening, about an hour before dinner.

On Friday, our friends arrived as the lasagna was cooling, leaving me with lots of time to hold the 4-month-old baby (!!) in attendance. Never have I been more grateful for the existence of lasagna. Incidentally, this was a really simple, doable, stress-free, make-ahead-able menu:

PS: If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know about this other butternut squash lasagna recipe, which is near and dear to my heart, something I make often around the holidays and throughout the winter. It calls for roasted cubes of butternut squash, a rosemary-and-sage infused bechamel, and a final layer of salted whipped cream, which imparts the baked lasagna with brown buttery notes. It is heaven. How does this compare? Well, it’s just different, a little lighter, more vegetal, but just as delicious in its own way.

Lasagna: Some Notes

  • Assembly: My formula for lasagna is such: sauce + no-boil noodles + sauce + cooked vegetables + mozzarella and parmesan, then repeat. The idea is to always have sauce on either side of the noodles. The vegetables can be anything you like, but cooked vegetables are important because you want to remove the water content, which prevents the lasagna from being soggy. I never include a ricotta-egg layer, which simplifies the process.
  • No-Boil Noodles: I love no-boil noodles, but sometimes they don’t perform optimally, especially on the top layer. With this recipe, which is less saucy than other lasagna I make, I soak the last 3 sheets of noodles in hot water for 2 minutes before transferring them to the lasagna. This ensures they’ll expand beautifully in the oven.
  • How to Freeze/Make Ahead: The assembled lasagna can be stored in the fridge covered for 24 hours. To freeze, bake the lasagna for 40 minutes covered, remove from the oven, let cool completely, then freeze.

How to Make Butternut Squash Lasagna, Step by Step

Gather your ingredients: Mushrooms, Swiss chard, no-boil noodles, mozzarella, parmesan and butternut squash sauce (recipe is included below)

Ingredients to make butternut squash lasagna.

Chop the mushrooms:

Chopped mushrooms on a cutting board.

Sauté them.

Sautéed mushrooms in a skillet.

Wash your greens if they are dirty.

Swiss chard in a salad spinner.

Sauté them.

A skillet filled with Swiss chard.
Sautéed Swiss chard in a skillet.

Chop them up.

Sautéed and chopped Swiss chard.
The components for making a vegetarian lasagna.

Begin assembling by spreading a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 3 layers of no-boil noodles.

A layer of sauce and noodles in a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Spread another thin layer of sauce over the top.

A layer of sauce, noodles, and sauce again in a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Top with a layer of vegetables.

A layer of vegetables in a vegetable lasagna.

Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella over the top.

A layer of vegetables and cheese in a vegetable lasagna.

Repeat this layering until you’ve topped the final layer of cheese with a layer of sauce.

An assembled but unbaked vegetable lasagna in a baking dish.

Soak the final layer of noodles in hot water for 2 minutes.

No-boil noodles soaking in a dish of hot water.

Transfer to the baking dish.

An assembled, unbaked lasagna.

Top with another layer of sauce and cheese.

Top layer of cheese in a vegetable lasagna in a baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake immediately or transfer to the fridge for 24 hours.

A 9x13-inch pan covered in foil.

Ta-da 🎉

Just-baked butternut squash lasagna with greens and mushrooms.
A slice of butternut squash lasagna with greens and mushrooms.
A slice of butternut squash lasagna with greens and mushrooms.

Print

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Description

Notes: 

  • To make this vegan, use vegan parmesan and mozzarella in place of the traditional parmesan and mozzarella. 
  • To make this gluten-free, use gluten-free lasagna noodles. The Tinkyada brand is wonderful. 
  • Any mushroom and greens can be used in place of the oyster mushrooms and Swiss chard.
  • How to Freeze/Make Ahead: The assembled lasagna can be stored in the fridge covered for 24 hours. To freeze, bake the lasagna for 40 minutes covered, remove from the oven, let cool completely, then freeze.

For the butternut squash sauce:

  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • kosher salt
  • 1.25 lb peeled butternut squash pieces, about 4 cups

For the lasagna:

  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. Swiss Chard, leaves removed from stems to yield 8 to 9 ounces, roughly chopped
  • 1 quart of the butternut squash sauce 
  • 12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 8 ounces low-moisture, whole milk mozzarella, pulled into small pieces

  1. To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, then add chopped sage and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the cubed squash, diced onion, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. If your squash pieces are not submerged in water, add more water just until they are barely covered. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender and water has reduced considerably, about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the squash pieces.
  2. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. (Alternatively use an immersion blender.) Taste sauce. Add more salt if necessary. Transfer to a bowl or storage vessel — you should have 1 quart of sauce. 
  3. To make the lasagna: Heat the oven to 375ºF. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it shimmers, add the mushrooms and let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Season with salt, then sir. Cook for another 2 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked and browned at the edges. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Return the skillet — no need to wash it — to the stovetop over high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the Swiss chard leaves and let cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Season with salt. Use tongs to rearrange the leaves and encourage them to wilt. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until the leaves have collapsed. Transfer leaves to a bowl to cool. 
  4. To assemble the lasagna: Spoon ½ cup of the butternut squash sauce into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with three sheets of the lasagna noodles. Spread a scant ½ cup butternut squash sauce over the noodles. Spread ⅓ of the mushrooms and ⅓ of the Swiss chard leaves over top. Spread about ¼ cup of parmesan over top, then ¼ cup mozzarella. Repeat this layering until you have topped the third layer of noodles with the last of the mushrooms and Swiss chard, ¼ cup of each of the cheeses, and a scant ½ cup of butternut squash sauce.
  5. For the final layer of noodles, bring a small pot or kettle of water to a boil. Pour it into a small vessel such as an 8-inch baking dish. Submerge the remaining 3 noodle sheets into the water and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, using tongs to occasionally rearrange the noodles to ensure they are not sticking together. (Note: This step ensures this final layer of noodles, which might not be surrounded by as much moisture as the bottom three layers, will soften and expand properly once in the oven.) Use tongs to remove each sheet of noodles and transfer to the pan. Spread the remaining sauce — it should be about ½ cup — over top, then top with the remaining cheese. 
  6. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for 10 to 20 minutes more or until the cheese has melted and the top is bubbly and evenly golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. 
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American, Italian

Keywords: lasagna, no-boil noodles, butternut squash, greens, mushrooms