Butternut squash and spinach lasagne

Everybody loves lasagne, and with this delectable veggie version Matt Tebbutt ensures no one misses the mince
By Matt Tebbutt
Butternut squash and spinach lasagne
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 55 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 750 g butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 500 g spinach
  • knob butter
  • 8-10 fresh lasagne sheets, or no-need-to-soak dried lasagne sheets
  • 30 g pine nuts, toasted
  • 200 g ricotta cheese
  • 30 g parmesan, grated, rind reserved, plus extra for serving (optional)

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sun-dried tomatoes, paste or tomato purée
  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp caster sugar

For the béchamel sauce

  • 50 g butter, cubed
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 500 ml milk

Tips and Suggestions

As Matt shows here, you can keep the leftover rind from a wedge of parmesan to give a flavour boost to sauces and soups, such as cauliflower soup and minestrone. Add when you bring the mixture to the boil and discard the remnants of the rind before serving.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6 and grease a large baking dish of about 1.5 litres capacity.

2. Halve the squash, then peel and deseed it. Cut the flesh into 1.5cm chunks and toss them with a little oil in a roasting pan. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Roast for 25-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and starting to colour. In the meantime, get on with making the sauces.

3. For the tomato sauce: cook the shallot in a little olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomato paste and cook for one minute more. Tip in the canned tomatoes, then add the sugar and your reserved piece of parmesan cheese rind if you have it. Leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes then taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

4. For the béchamel sauce: melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and, once it is well combined, leave the roux to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring well between additions to give a smooth sauce. Return the pan to the heat and stir continuously until it comes to the boil. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes or until the sauce is thick and smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg and remove from the heat.

5. Wash the spinach and remove any thick stalks. Melt a knob of butter in a large saucepan and sauté the spinach with some salt, pepper and nutmeg over a medium high heat for 2 minutes. Remove the spinach from the pan and, when cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water. Set aside.

6. To assemble the lasagne, place a layer of roasted squash in the bottom of the dish and spoon over half the tomato sauce (discarding the remains of the cheese rind, if necessary). Season each layer as you assemble. Add a layer of lasagne sheets (you may have to cut some to fit). Follow with half the béchamel sauce, then all the spinach. Sprinkle with most of the pine nuts, reserving some for the top layer. Dot half of the ricotta evenly over the dish and cover with another layer of lasagne sheets.

7. Arrange the rest of the pumpkin on top of the pasta. Add the remaining tomato sauce and a final layer of lasagne sheets. Smooth over the last of the béchamel sauce. Scatter with grated parmesan and the leftover pine nuts. Finish the layers by daubing the rest of the ricotta over the top.

8. Bake the lasagne for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Remove and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving, with extra grated parmesan if desired.

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