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Looking for a vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving, the December holidays, or a fall/winter dinner party? Acorn squash lasagna with velvety béchamel sauce is raved about by veg-heads and omnivores alike. You'll love the interplay of sweet roasted acorn squash and parmesan's deep umami.
Why we love this recipe
We are big fans of lasagna's power to comfort and nourish simultaneously. This recipe puts an autumnal spin on the classic. It's:
- Bursting with balanced fall flavors
- Creamy and cheesy
- Great for a crowd
- Make-ahead friendly
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make acorn squash lasagna.
- Acorn squash roasts up a little bit less dense than some other winter squash varieties and contributes just the right flavor and texture to this vegetarian lasagna recipe.
- I prefer whole-milk ricotta and mozzarella, but you can use part-skim if you like.
- The recipe calls for fresh sage, but you can use one tablespoon of dried sage instead if that's what you've got.
- No-boil lasagna noodles do a great job and are super-convenient. If you want to up your game, can use any lasagna noodles you like, all the way up the food chain to fresh homemade pasta.
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to make acorn squash lasagna. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
The squash filling
First you'll prep the squash and turn it into a creamy filling.
- Carefully halve the squash from stem end to root end. Scoop out and discard the seeds and the accompanying stringy flesh.
- Place the squash cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment if you like for easier cleanup. Roast until tender.
- Scoop out the roasted flesh into a mixing bowl.
- Mash the squash with a fork and then stir in the ricotta.
Béchamel is one of the five "mother sauces" — a building block of French cuisine.
- Melt the butter and sauté the onion, garlic, and sage until softened.
- Stir in the flour to make a roux. This mixture of butter and flour will thicken the sauce as it cooks.
- Add the milk along with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Off the heat, stir in some of the parmesan.
- Next, you'll temper the eggs by slowly streaming in some of the hot sauce while whisking. This gradually heats up the eggs so they won't scramble when you add them to the rest of the sauce.
Now for the fun part. Here's how to assemble and bake the lasagna.
- Start with some sauce on the bottom.
- Add a layer of noodles. Cover the whole bottom — you may need to break up the last piece to create an even layer.
- Spread half the squash evenly over the noodles.
- Sprinkle on half the mozzarella. Repeat this process once more, finishing with a third layer of pasta and a fourth layer of sauce. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan and bake until hot, bubbly, and lightly browned on top.
Expert tips and FAQs
Yes! You can assemble acorn squash lasagna up to about a day in advance and keep it covered in the fridge. Bake just before serving. You can take it straight from fridge to oven if you like. You may need to add a few minutes to the baking time.
Keep leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat before serving — in the oven, toaster oven, or, for single servings, even the microwave on medium power.
If you like you can swap in a different orange-fleshed winter squash for the acorn squash. Butternut, hubbard, red kuri, or kabocha would work. Some of these squash have denser flesh with less moisture, so consider thinning the squash flesh with a bit of vegetable broth while you're mashing it with a fork.
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- 1 medium acorn squash
- 1 pound (454 grams) whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, diced small
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- ⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 9 ounces (255 grams) no-boil lasagna noodles (one box)
- 1 pound (454 grams) whole-milk mozzarella, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 375° F with a rack in the center.
- Halve the acorn squash. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Place cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet (lined with parchment for easy cleanup if you like) and roast until tender, about 40 minutes.
- Let cool slightly, then scoop out flesh into a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in the ricotta cheese.
- While the squash is roasting, make the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium pot. Add the onion, garlic, and sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent burning, for one minute.
- Add the milk along with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then reduce the heat to maintain a brisk simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in one cup of the Parmigiano cheese.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Very slowly pour in about one cup of the sauce while whisking the eggs. (This tempers the eggs so they don't scramble during the next step.) Then pour the tempered egg mixture into the pot with the sauce and stir to combine thoroughly.
- In a 9x13x2-inch pan, assemble the lasagna. Spread ¼ of the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Lay five lasagna noodles on top, slightly overlapping them and breaking up the fifth noodle as necessary to cover the whole bottom. Top with half the squash mixture, followed by half of the shredded mozzarella.
- Repeat with a second layer of sauce, noodles, squash mixture, and mozzarella. Add a third layer of noodles and top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup Parmigiano cheese on top. Bake on the center rack until bubbly and slightly browned on top, about 35-40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 19.2gCarbohydrates: 36.9gFiber: 3.5gProtein: 18.4g