Cooking the Italian Way – Butternut Squash Lasagna


My mother likes to call me and inform me of various relatives that we still need to visit this holiday season. 

She rattles off her list.  Name by name. 

And, mysteriously enough, with each person she also feels compelled to mention their culinary likes and dislikes.

For example, she’ll say, “Oh, yes.  We still have to see Aunt Lynn.  You’ll remember that she hates asparagus but really liked that cheesecake that you made last year.”

Now, I love my mother dearly.  But sometimes I want to hit her over the head and scream, “Get to the point already!”  Because what she really wants is for me to offer to cook something to bring to all of these family gatherings.  But she won’t come out and say it.  She’s an odd creature that way.

I suspect, since you are reading food blogs, that the same goes for you.  The holidays may technically be over but there are still meals to cook and people to have over for dinner and you, being the chef in the family, are expected to whip up something magical.  In which case, this lasagna is it.

I made it for a holiday potluck at school and it wowed just about everyone.  It’s so unlike any lasagna you’ve ever had that you will have to go back for a second piece. Just to revel in the flavors a bit longer. 


Butternut Squash Lasagna
Serves 8-10, adapted from Giada de Laurentis

1 tbsp olive oil
1 (1 1/2-2 lb) butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups low fat milk
pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/3 cup grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 450.  Place the cut squash on a baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray or sprinkle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until fork tender.  When it is cool enough to touch, scoop out the flesh into a bowl leaving the skin shells behind.  Mash with the amaretti cookie crumbles.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in the milk.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about five minutes.  Whisk in the nutmeg.  Cool slightly and transfer half the sauce to a blender.  Add the basil and blend until smooth.  Return the basil sauce to the pan and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Preheat the oven to 375.  Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce in a 9×13-inch baking pan.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Repeat layering 3 more times.

4. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over the lasagna.  Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the cheese starts to brown, about 15 minutes.  Let the lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.