Crockpot Butternut Squash Lasagna

by elleryturner

If you do one thing with your crockpot ever (and I do hope you use it for more than one thing), please make lasagna in it.  I didn’t even know making lasagna in a crockpot was possible, but when scouring the internet for new ways to use the slow cooker, I found out that it is!  And not only is it possible, it is – simply put – amazing.  When I made a lasagna in the crockpot on Sunday, I made a vow to never go back to the build-and-bake method.  The noodles, which you add uncooked, develop a wonderful chewy texture that the traditional lasagna noodles, after being boiled and baked, lose in the process.

I had some butternut squash left over from my soup last week and wanted to do something new with it.  I checked the cupboards and fridge to see what else I had on hand…onion, shallots, garlic on the counter…ricotta and eggs (left over from a spaghetti squash pie that you will soon be reading about) in the fridge…frozen spinach in the freezer.  I was planning on trying the crockpot lasagna after the holidays, but the realization that I had ricotta on hand sealed the deal.  For some reason, I always think of lasagna when I think of ricotta.  All I had to buy was lasagna noodles, shredded mozzarella and some sage.  I opted for the dried sage because it was on sale.  Fresh would have been nice, but buying dried v fresh spices, as long as it’s an ingredient in the dish and not a garnish, is a good way to pinch pennies when needed.  I’ll add though, even if you had to buy all of the ingredients for this lasagna, it’s still a good deal, and it makes 6 servings.  And you can freeze it.  Would you expect anything different from me at this point?

3 cups cubed butternut squash

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 clove fresh garlic, diced

1 shallot diced

7 ounces (or 1/2 15 oz container) low-fat ricotta cheese

1 tblspoon dried sage (or same amount of fresh, chopped)

1 egg

1 package of lasagna noodles (you’ll only use about 6)

3/4 cup low-fat shredded mozarella

1/2  cup frozen spinash, thawed, liquid squeezed out

1 tbls olive oil

1 tsp coriander (don’t have it and don’t want to buy it?  the dish will be just as delicious without it)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add the butternut squash to a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and coriander.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning once.

Step 2:  Heat 1/2 tbls olive oil in a skillet on the stove.  Add the diced onion, shallot and garlic and saute until tender – approximately 5 minutes.

Step 3:  Combine ricotta, egg, and sage in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Step 4: Mash roasted squash until smooth.  You can add a little chicken stock, milk, even water if it’s all you have, to help smooth out the squash.  Salt and pepper the mash to taste.

Step 5: Layer your lasagna.  In the crockpot, spread out the other 1/2 tbps olive oil and a thin layer of the squash.  Break in half two lasagna noodles and place the 4 pieces on top of the squash to form an even layer.  On top of the noodles, spread out 1/2 the ricotta mixture, and on top of the ricotta, layer 1/2 the onion mixture.  Break two more noodles to form the next layer.  Spread the rest of the squash on top of the noodles, and add the spinach.  Lay down another set of noodles.  Top noodles with the last of the ricotta and the rest of the sauteed onions, shallot and garlic.  Top the entire dish with 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella.

Step 6: Cover and cook on low for 3 – 4 hours, or until the noodles are tender.  Remove from crockpot using a spatula, cut and serve!

Not only is this a delicious, lightened-up version of the orginal, but once you have the basics, this recipe lends itself to the ingredients you have on hand.  Talk about a good “garbage” meal at the end of the week – saute all of your leftover veggie from other meals during the week for fantastic veggie crockpot lasagna.

But most importantly, it’s a hardy meal for a group – so do the prep work before you pick up your relatives from the airport this weekend, layer the lasagna, plug in the slow cooker, and enjoy the holiday in the living room with the rest of your family, instead of standing over the stove!