Butternut squash and spinach lasagna is a VAST improvement over most versions of lasagna made with white sauce. We use low fat milk rather than cream or whole milk, which helps to cut down on both calories and saturated fat. Most of the filling comes from the squash and the spinach, with just a hint of cheese – rather than the abundance of meat and cheese in many recipes - so we’ve cut down on the calories and significantly increased the nutrient value.
And none of these changes sacrifice taste! Give this recipe a try if you’re looking for a way to lighten up your lasagna while still feeling like you are indulging in a rich entrée.
Keep in mind the recipe does have several grams of saturated fat and a moderate amount of sodium - but if the rest of your meals are reasonable in these components, this can certainly be part of your healthy diet!
The recipe is below. It looks like a lot of instructions, but I promise – it’s an easy recipe to make. I just try to provide as much detail as possible in the directions!
Makes 6 Servings
8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken in half (This is equal to about 1/2 of a normal size box. You should have 18 noodle halves)
**Unfortunately, the supermarket I was at earlier this week did not have any whole wheat lasagna noodles in stock, so we used the white in a pinch. Definitely use whole wheat lasagna noodles when you can!
For the filling:
1 tbsp butter
3 or 4 cups cubed butternut squash. **Not going to lie – for this recipe, I just bought a 20 ounce package that was already peeled/chopped at the supermarket, which worked perfectly. I almost always buy the whole one, but it is a bit tough to cut and cube raw. Plus, the price of the cut one was actually equal ounce for ounce to the whole one when you estimate about how much you toss from the peel/seeds. I’d guesstimate a 1 ½ to 2 pound whole squash would give you the amount you’d need after peeling/removing seeds.
1 cup water
½ tsp pepper
10 ounce package of spinach
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
For the sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups 1% low fat milk
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1) Boil water and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. I break the noodles in half because a) they’re easier to fit in the pot, and b) when I lay the noodles in my casserole dish, I do two columns with 3 rows of noodles each (look at the photo of the casserole dish if you’re confused). Since this recipe makes 6 portions, it allows me to know exactly what 1/6th of the lasagna dish is for portion control!
2) While noodles are cooking, melt 1 tbsp butter in a large sauté pan. Add cubed butternut squash, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook on medium heat until squash is tender and all the water is gone. Sometimes, I need to add another ½ cup water and give it more time until it’s tender. It typically takes about 15 minutes, give or take (you should be able to mash the squash somewhat with a fork when you apply pressure).
3) Once squash is tender, add spinach to same pan and cook until wilted. While stirring, mash up squash a bit. Turn off heat.
4) Preheat oven to 350 F.
5) Drain lasagna noodles and leave in colander. In same pot that you cooked noodles (yay for avoiding too many dirty dishes!), melt 2 tbsp butter. Add onion/garlic and sauté for a few minutes until tender. Mix in flour and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add 2 ½ cups of milk, stirring. Heat, stirring often, until sauce just starts to boil. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese.
6) Spread a little sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish (a 9x13 dish works perfect for this dish). Layer noodles on bottom, followed by ½ of the squash/spinach mixture, then half a cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with 1/3 of the remaining white sauce and then another layer of noodles. Create another layer with the remaining squash/spinach, other ½ cup of mozzarella cheese, and the next 1/3 of the white sauce. Top with one more layer of noodles and remaining white sauce.
7) Cover with foil and cook for about 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly.
Nutrient Analysis (per serving):
388 calories, 12 grams of fat (7 grams saturated fat), 585 mg sodium, 52 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 18 grams protein, 348% daily Vitamin A needs, 43% daily Calcium needs, 52% daily Vitamin C needs, 20% daily Iron needs