These butternut squash lasagna rolls are a Fall spin on a comfort food classic! Plus these have all the cheesiness of lasagna with less carbs.
I love lasagna because it’s messy and imperfect. Yes, there’s a basic formula of making a lasagna, but as long as you have alternating layers of ricotta filling, noodles, and sauce (and meat for some), it doesn’t matter how pretty the layers are. And if the timer goes off but you’re in the middle of taking a sip of wine, no need to rush off. It’ll be perfectly okay if it sits in the oven for an extra minute or two. These lasagna rolls at first seem like a high-maintenance version of lasagna, but I promise they’re really not that complicated to make and are still cheesy and delicious!
Why lasagna rolls?
All the cheesiness of lasagna with deceptively less carbs. Now I’m not an anti-carb person (check out my Instagram for all the amazing pastries I ate in Norway), but I do believe in balancing out a meal. Plus, because you roll the noodles, you’re still getting that layer-effect of traditional lasagna. But my favorite part is all the cheesiness!
What you’ll need
The most obvious difference from traditional lasagna is that we’ll be making a cheesy butternut squash sauce rather than tomato sauce. Otherwise, most of the ingredients are pretty standard. I like these vegetarian, but you could always play with adding lean ground turkey to the filling.
- Butternut squash
- Parmesan Cheese
- Minced shallot and garlic
- Chicken broth (can also use water, but won’t be quite as flavorful)
- 8 lasagna noodles
- Low-fat ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- Frozen spinach
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper
How do you peel, cut and roast butternut squash?
Let’s start with the easiest solution: buying pre-peeled and cut butternut squash. There’s no shame in doing this. However, especially in the Fall, whole squashes are cheaper at my local grocery store, and cheaper still beats out convenience in my late-20’s ?.
To peel and cut the squash, I recommend first poking it a few times with a fork and then placing it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes just to soften it a tiny bit. This will make it a little easier to cut. Next, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
To cut, use a sharp knife to cut the squash vertically. Next, using a spoon, scoop out the seeds like you would a pumpkin. Also be sure to scoop out any of those stringy parts. From here, simply make a few more vertical cuts, about 1”-thick, then start cutting across to end up with cube-like pieces (note, these don’t have to be perfect. The key is just to get them small enough to roast in less than 30 minutes). The smaller you dice, the quicker your squash will soften in the oven.
To roast, first cover your baking sheet with parchment paper. I was using my baking sheet to roast other veggies at the time, so I used a glass baking dish instead. Either works as long as the butternut squash don’t overlap. Next, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat each piece well and then arrange so that they are in a single layer again. Cook at a high heat (I usually do 425 F) for 20-30 minutes, depending on how small you cut your squash. The goal is to end up with soft, slightly browned pieces.
Can I use sweet potatoes instead?
I get it. Butternut squash seems like it takes longer to cook and not everyone is as familiar with it. Plus depending on the time of year, it isn’t always the easiest to find or the cheapest. You can try making these with sweet potatoes instead, but note that the sauce will be sweeter. To do this, I’d still recommend roasting them for best flavor, but you could microwave them instead. As sweet potatoes also have more moisture than butternut squash, you’ll want to reduce the amount of chicken broth used to make the soup. If you try this, let me know how it is!
How to make butternut squash lasagna rolls
The first step is to make your sauce. Once your squash is roasted, place in a food processor or high-powered blender along with ¼ cup of broth. You want the squash to get nice and creamy. If it’s still chunky or just not smooth, add small splashes of broth and keep blending until it reaches the desired consistency. Next, you’ll add it to a pan of sautéed shallots and garlic then stir in some parmesan cheese. How thick the sauce should be is totally up to you. I like a thicker sauce, so I just added a few splashes of broth, but if you want it thinner like a marinara sauce, keep pouring broth to get it there.
For the filling, you’ll simply stir together ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, an egg, salt, pepper, and cooked frozen spinach. A note on the spinach: make sure to really wring it dry with paper towers. Too much moisture left in the spinach will make your lasagna rolls a bit watery.
Next, the fun part! Lay out your cooked lasagna noodles (which you’ll make after the sauce is ready) and spread about 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture over each noodle. Roll up and place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Cover with sauce and bake for 30 minutes at 350. After 30 min, sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 8-10 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and starting to get all bubbly.
If you make this recipe I’d love to see and hear how it goes! Tag me on Instagram @TheHealthyToast_RD.
Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls
For the Butternut Squash Sauce:
- 1 lb butternut squash peeled and diced
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp canola or olive oil
- 1 small shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced (see blog post for notes on mincing)
- Up to ¾ cup chicken broth may not use all of it
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Lasagna Rolls:
- 8 lasagna noodles
- 10- oz package frozen spinach heated, squeezed, and chopped
- 15- oz part-skim ricotta cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Place diced butternut squash on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 F.
- Place cooked squash in food processor along with ¼ cup of chicken broth. Pulse until smooth. If mixture isn’t smoothing out, add 1 Tbsp of broth at a time until it’s nice and creamy. Set aside.
- Pour remaining 1 tsp of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add minced shallot and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add pureed butternut squash and ¼ cup parmesan cheese to pan and stir well. Add additional broth until mixture is thinned out to your liking. Taste and add more salt and pepper per preference. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the 8 lasagna noodles. Cook per package instructions until noodles are al-dente (for me this was 10 minutes). Remove noodles and blot dry using a paper towel.
- While noodles are cooking, make your ricotta filling by combining ricotta, ½ cup parmesan cheese, beaten egg, chopped spinach, and pinch of salt and pepper.
- To assemble lasagna: pour ½ cup of butternut squash sauce on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan. Place cooked lasagna noodles on a cutting board and spread 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture on each noodle. Roll noodle up, not too tight as the filling will squeeze out, and place seam side down onto baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
- Spread remaining sauce over the lasagna rolls and place in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, sprinkle ½ cup of mozzarella cheese on top and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and enjoy!