Local Seasonal Recipe: Butternut Squash Lasagna

Let me get straight to business. This is the meal you need to make this fall. No excuses.

When our closest neighbors had a baby a year and a half ago, I made them this dish. They’ve repeatedly made coy requests about whether I might make it again. As in, do they need to make another baby just to get me to cook it for them again?

My butternut squash lasagna is the ultimate fall comfort food. The butternut squash is just slightly sweet; the ricotta is rich and melts in your mouth; the tomato sauce is savory and garlicky; and the combination of the three is just. perfect.

The recipe is based on one in Kelly Brogan’s book A Mind of Her Own, but since I’m not ready to give up dairy (sorry, Dr. Brogan), I replaced the egg filling with ricotta cheese.

While we’re on the subject of special diets:

  • This lasagna is naturally gluten-free because the lasagna “noodles” are actually thin slices of butternut squash.
  • I have two vegetarians/pescatarians in my household, so I usually make a second batch using crumbled tempeh as a substitute for the ground beef. You could probably experiment with other meat replacements too.

Lastly, not only is this a perfect seasonal meal in the squash season, but it’s also possible to source all the ingredients locally (depending on where you live, of course). I use locally grown butternut squashes and local ground beef from a grassfed meat farm. For the tomato sauce, I use the tomato sauce from our own tomatoes that I canned back in the sweltering heat of August (this part will require on some advance planning, I admit). And I make the ricotta cheese by hand with the milk from our local dairy.

Without further ado —

 

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Serves 6-8, depending on how hungry y’all are

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef (substitute 1 package of crumbled tempeh for non-meat eaters)
  • 36 oz tomato puree or tomato sauce
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese (recipe here)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the ricotta cheese in advance, if making your own.

Melt the butter or ghee in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and sautée until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and the garlic and cook, turning the heat to medium-high, until the meat is browned. Add the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer on low while you prepare the rest.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Peel the butternut squash, cut it in half and scoop out seeds. Slice it into slices and rounds, as thinly as you can. (This is the trickiest part; the rest is easy!)

Butter a 15″ x 10″ high-rimmed oven baking dish. Add enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, then spread a layer of butternut squash slices as you would with lasagna noodles. Ladle more sauce generously on top of the squash and then top with dollops of ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with your preferred herbs, salt and pepper. Proceed with another layer of squash slices, sauce, and ricotta. Finish with a final layer of squash and a light layer of sauce (and any remaining ricotta).

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.

Enjoy!

 

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