Creamy, with fontina béchamel, warming and pure comfort food, butternut squash and kale lasagna makes a memorable vegetarian main for holidays or special occasions.
Cold, windy, and rainy winter days require comfort food. I’ve been using squash to make soup and roasting it to put on salads, but I had yet to make a lasagna recipe that I crave this season.
It was time.
This recipe was given to me by a friend a few years ago. I first tried her version at a potluck and knew I had to have the recipe. I thought I lost it at one point, but after digging through a misplaced recipe binder, I found it folded up, and gently tucked away.
I’ve made this recipe several times since, but recently started changing a few things up and decided I liked the changes well enough to share them with y’all.
I used to be intimidated by squash so I avoided it. I didn’t know how to prepare it, let alone cut into one. In fact, I really didn’t know winter squash at all, besides jack-o-lanterns, because the squash I grew up on was zucchini and yellow summer squash.
Thanks to my local farmers, I have been introduced to an abundance of winter squash and it seems with each passing year, I learn more about different varieties (there are so many!). Each has their own richness, sweetness and buttery nuances.
Cutting into squash isn’t as fussy as I thought it was. What I generally do, if the squash is bigger than my knife, is pop the squash into a warming 350F oven until it’s slightly softened; this makes it easier to get into.
Then, I trim the ends and cut the squash length wise. If the squash is smallish in size, I skip the warming step, get my largest knife out and gently cut off the ends. Sometimes this can take a bit of finessing because squash can be a tough customer. So I’ll rock the knife back and fourth on the squash, trimming the ends, never forcing, but letting the knife do all the work. Then, I cut the squash lengthwise, again, never in a hurry.
This recipe can be made with spinach or kale. I used kale because it was what my local farmer had available. It lends a chewier texture to the lasagna, which I prefer. I love kale anyway and the more of it I can eat, the better!
I think one of the best things about lasagna is there’s always plenty and it freezes well. Excellent for when the day is full and the evening needs to be slow. It feels good knowing how making a salad and sliding leftovers in the oven is all the time one needs to have a delicious, comforting meal.
Butternut squash and kale lasagna is a hearty main for any fall or winter dinner, including holidays. It can be made ahead and rested in the fridge before baking to free up time spent in the kitchen when guests arrive.
It’s colorful, creamy, and sweet, has a nice texture from the pasta and kale while sage and thyme bring all the flavors together.
- Coconut Oil Cooking Spray
- 1 Butternut Squash, about 2 1/2 lbs
- 2 Tbs + 2 tsp Coconut Oil, divided, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp Sea Salt, divided
- 1 1/2 Tbs Sage, dried
- 5 Cloves of Garlic, large, skinned
- 1 Purple Onion, sliced in half and sliced thin
- 2 Tbs Water
- 1 Bunch of Kale, Red Russian, stems removed and chopped into 1" pieces
- 4 C Whole Milk, divided
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 Springs of Thyme
- 4 Tbs All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 tsp Pepper, ground
- 3/4 tsp Nutmeg, ground
- 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 6 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
- 6 oz Fontina Cheese, grated, divided
- Parmesan Cheese
- Chopped Parsley or Thyme
- Preheat oven to 425F. Spray an 8x8 casserole or baking dish with coconut oil spray, set aside. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.
- Split and deseed the butternut squash. Drizzle 1 Tbs coconut oil on the flesh and spread it around on the surface. Sprinkle flesh with 1/2 tsp sea salt and all the sage. Turn the flesh face down to roast. Wrap the peeled garlic sprinkled with 2 tsp coconut oil in foil and place on the same pan as the butternut squash. Roast garlic for 30 minutes and butternut squash for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool until both can be safely handled. Scrape flesh of butternut squash from the skin and discard skin. Using a potato masher, mash the garlic and butternut squash together (I do this right on the roasting pan). A few chunks are ok. Set aside.
- While the squash is roasting, slice the onions. Add 1 tsp of coconut oil to a dutch oven, heat until oil shimmers then add the onions with 1/4 tsp salt. Caramelize the onions for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, on low heat. The onions should be browned and soft. Spoon into a large mixing bowl.
- In the same dutch oven, add the chopped kale with 2 Tbs water on medium heat. Cover and steam for 3 minutes, opening at 2 minutes, stirring, and recovering. The kale should be slightly wilted. Drain any excess water and add to bowl with caramelized onions and stir to incorporate the ingredients.
- In a large stock pot bring water to a boil to prepare lasagna pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain and lay noodles flat and separated onto a dry work surface. It's ok if they cool.
- Wipe out the dutch oven and add 3 1/2 C of milk, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let the herbs steep in the milk for 10 minutes. Remove the herbs and discard. To the reserved 1/2 C of milk, whisk in the all purpose flour. Add the milk/flour mixture into the steeped milk and whisk over medium high heat, whisking until blended. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Stir in 3/4 C of the grated fontina. Set aside.
- In the prepared 8x8 baking dish spread a scant 1 C milk/cheese mixture in the bottom. Layer in two lasagna noodles. On top of the noodles, spread 1/2 the butternut squash mixture, then 1/2 the kale/onion mixture. Spread a scant 1 C of milk/cheese mixture on top of the kale, then add two more lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining squash on the noodles, then top with the remaining kale and a scant 1 C of the milk mixture. Finish the lasagna off with the last two lasagna noodles and the remaining milk/cheese mixture.
- Cover with foil taking care not to touch the surface of the lasagna with the foil. Bake at 425F, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and add the remaining fontina. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese on top is lightly browned and bubbly.
- Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
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