This lasagne is probably one of the nicest things I’ve cooked in ages. While I’m definitely not a vegetarian (sorry fluffy animals, you’re still not safe from me), I do love good vegetarian food and during the week I often unintentionally go a few days without eating meat as a result. Vegetarian options are so much much better nowadays compared to when I was younger. A friend of mine is vegetarian and when she was small going for family dinners meant getting a portion of potatoes or chips and a bowl of carrots and broccoli. There were hardly any decent veggie offerings. Now there is so much delicious vegetarian options that it makes forgoing meat so much easier.
Butternut squash is my favourite vegetable for cooking, it’s just so full of flavour, sweet and hearty. I’m always using it in soups, on bruschettas, in stews, risottos and recently in hummus too. I like squash okay? I thought it would make a great tasty but filling addition to a nice veggie lasagne. The spinach and ricotta give it a nice bit of cheesy naughtiness too. I made my own pasta, but you can use dried or fresh pasta just fine. This is so good I urge you to make it immediately. It’s the vegetable’s moment to shine… And nobody puts my butternut squash in the corner.
1 box of pasta sheets
2 butternut squashes
salt and pepper
1 bag spinach
1 tub / 250g ricotta (Try use Toonsbridge if you can find it… Amazing!)
salt & pepper
1 heaped tbsp flour
1 heaped tbsp butter
1 tsp nutmeg
350ml milk (maybe a little more)
1 handful parmesan cheese
- Peel the two squashes, cut into cubes and roast in a little oil with salt and pepper in an oven (around 180-200C) for 45mins to and hour until soft. You’ll need to stir them around every 10 mins or so. when the squash is done mash most of it, leaving some slightly lumpy bits for a bit of bite. Grate in the zest of the lemon, a squeeze of it’s juice and season generously with salt and pepper. Have a taste and adjust as necessary.
- Wilt the spinach in a large pan in a little oil and when wilted stir in the ricotta, a teaspoon of nutmeg and again be generous with the salt and pepper. Make sure to taste your seasoning as you go along.
- To make the béchamel sauce in a pot on a medium low heat pop the flour and butter in and stir for a minute so it cooks a little, then whisk in the milk gradually to allow it to thicken. When it’s just about done stir in the cheese. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- No matter what type of pasta sheets you are using (homemade, fresh or dried) make sure to pop them into a pot of boiling water before assembling… This is important! They only need a minute to soften so they cook nicely and get a nice texture. If the pasta you are using is homemade, it may only need 20-30 seconds.
- Assemble! In a casserole dish lay a layer of pasta sheets then pour a little bit of béchamel sauce and half the squash. Top this layer with more pasta sheets and a little more sauce, then lay on top of this all of your spinach mix. Then lay another layer of pasta sheets, sauce and the remaining squash. Finish with a top layer of pasta and the remaining sauce (be generous with the sauce on the top layer). Grate some of the parmesan cheese on top.
- Pop into an oven at 180C for 30-40 minutes until golden and bubbly on top. Serve hot from the oven with a side salad… Heavenly!