Lasagna is not a dish I usually associate with eating healthy, but this lasagna is no ordinary lasagna. In place of the usual salty tomato meat sauce is a light leek béchamel elevated with notes of nutmeg and sage. Pounds of cheese is wholesomely upgraded to pounds of beta-carotene rich veggies, namely sweet potato and butternut squash (but no worries, Mr. Mozzarella and Professor Parmigiano Reggiano still hold their dignified positions in this recipe!). Last but not least, toasted pine nuts make a suprise appearance to not only complement all the other bright flavors, but also to double as a covert crunch-ifying agent.
Now ordinary lasagna is already a time intensive investment and between the sweet potato and butternut squash you’re probably thinking this lasagna will be no different. I repeat, this lasagna is no ordinary lasagna. You can thank your microwave because it’ll get your lasagna from start to oven in under 30 minutes. Colorfully fit for summer, this dish also transitions well into fall and winter… and hey let’s face it, those leeks just shout spring too! Healthy and paradoxically seasonal year-round, this one’s a keeper!
Sweet Potato & BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Makes 6 servings (adapted from Eating Well)
For the filling
- 6-9 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 24 oz. sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 12 oz. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 8 oz shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 oz parmigiano reggiano
For the sauce
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large leek, throughly washed and thinly sliced (white/light green part only)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 5 fresh sage leaves, chiffonaded
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Make the sweet potato and squash mixture. To cook the sweet potato, place cubes in a microwavable dish, cover with a wet paper towel and microwave for 8 minutes. For the butternut squash, I used a bag of Trader Joe’s pre-cubed squash that simply required snipping one corner of the bag and microwaving for 5 minutes to cook. Process veggies together in a food processor.
- Make the sauce. Over medium heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add leeks and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often until softened. Sprinkle flour over the leeks and cook mixture for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbling (~8 to 10 minutes). Whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg and sage. Remove from heat.
- Time to assemble the lasagna. Depending on the dimensions of your casserole dish, start by layering down 2-3 lasagna noodles. The remaining layers are as follows: 1/3 sauce, 1/2 squash mixture, 1/3 mozzarella, lasagna noodles, 1/3 sauce, all the pine nuts, 1/2 squash mixture, 1/3 mozzarella, lasagna noodles, 1/3 sauce, 1/3 mozzarella, topped with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
- Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes (Note: time is really dependent on what lasagna noodles you’re using since the rest is already cooked). Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.