Get your cheesy, vegetable-packed, cozy fix with this lasagna-inspired casserole that uses tender slices of butternut squash in place of traditional noodles. The result is colorful layers of Italian sausage, fresh spinach, creamy ricotta, and melty mozzarella. (It also just happens to be gluten-free and low carb.)
Good morning friends – how are we doing out there? It’s halfway through January and here in Kansas City we’ve already been hit with enough snow and ice and the muddy aftermath that I’m ready to hibernate. I just want the cozy socks, the flickering candles, and the delicious smell of something baking hands-off while I watch all the Netflix. Who’s with me?
Enter this casserole that started as a marriage of a somewhat traditional lasagna and my favorite holiday side dish, Creamy Butternut Squash and Spinach Casserole. When I started testing the recipe, it felt like the lasagna noodles were getting in the way, so out they went. No fussing with noodles here. Just colorful layers and so. much. savory. flavor.
HOW TO MAKE No-Noodle Lasagna
Just like most traditional lasagna recipes, prep each of the layers before starting. Thinly slice the butternut squash. Mix together the ricotta-goat cheese layer. Slice the mozzarella. Cook the sausage and spinach. From there, it’s as simple as layering and baking.
Tips for Success
You’ll want the butternut squash to be very thinly sliced here. It’s worth getting out a mandolin if you have one, but you can easily slice them by hand as well. Just keep in mind that the dish isn’t finished until the squash is tender. Thinner slices = the dish will cook faster. Thicker slices = the dish will need more time to bake.
Assemble the casserole up to 2 days ahead and cover it tightly. Refrigerate until ready to bake and then bake according to recipe instructions.
- Butternut Squash – When selecting a butternut squash, look for one with a long neck and a small bulb (rounded section) because the neck is the easiest part to slice. I often just slice the rounded bulbs off and scrape out the seeds and then freeze them to stuff and bake in other recipes. (It’s really difficult to slice that part.) You’ll need about a 3 pound squash for this recipe.
- Italian Sausage – Italian sausage comes in mild and spicy versions, so choose your favorite. For a lighter option, look for turkey or chicken Italian sausage which has all the flavor and is less fatty and hearty than the classic variety made with pork.
More Cozy Casserole Recipes
- Creamy Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Tuna Noodle Casserole with Crunchy Topping
- Vegetarian Tater Tot Casserole
- Taco Casserole with Ground Beef
- Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta
No-Noodle Butternut Squash Lasagna
- 3 Quart Casserole Dish
- Half Sheet Pan
- Mixing Bowl
- Saute Pan
- 15 ounces Ricotta Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1 large Egg
- 4 ounces Creamy Goat Cheese
- 1 pound Italian Sausage (see note)
- 8 ounces Baby Spinach
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 1 3 pound Butternut Squash, peeled, seeds removed and sliced into ⅛ inch slices
- 8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella, very thinly sliced
- Salt and Black Pepper
- ½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C.
- Spray a 3-quart casserole dish (rectangular or oval shaped will work) with nonstick cooking spray. Place casserole dish on a sheet pan (this is important to catch any drips if the casserole bubbles over).
- In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley, and egg. Stir well. Crumble goat cheese over top and stir until even. Set aside.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sausage and saute until cooked through and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to cool slightly.
- Return pan to heat.
- To heated pan add spinach and garlic and saute until spinach is wilted and garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach to bowl with the sausage and stir to combine.
- Layer the bottom of the prepared baking dish with butternut squash slices. Season lightly with some salt and black pepper. (Don’t skip this step to lightly season each layer of butternut squash; this will help to bring out the flavors and draw out excess moisture from the squash as it bakes.)
- Add a thin layer of mozzarella, then a thin layer of Italian sausage-spinach, and finally a thin layer of ricotta mixture. Continue the layers, including seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until all of the ingredients have been used, ending with a layer of butternut squash. (Note: I like to save about ¼ cup of the spinach and sausage mixture to put on top of the lasagna just for appearance.)
- Remove foil and sprinkle the top of the lasagna with parmesan cheese.
- Return to the oven and continue baking, uncovered, until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes more.
- Let lasagna rest in the pan for about 10 minutes before slicing (this short rest will help the slices to come out cleanly).