There are those meals you select knowing you are going to put extra effort into it. You buy the freshest ingredients, dedicate a chunk of time to fuss over it, accept no substitutions, no excuses, you go all-out.
Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Lasagna is one of those planned indulgences. Don’t let the time investment dampen your enthusiasm for trying this dish, it is worth every single minute when every bite tastes like a crisp autumn day.
I like butternut squash prepared savory rather than sweet, so this recipe was especially appealing to me. Tender squash seasoned with fresh marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf, accompanied by Honeycrisp apple, fennel, and onion.
Fennel sausage, fresh sage leaves, and toasted hazelnuts join the mix, rounding out flavors and imparting a hearty texture. Oh, and it is lasagna, so ricotta, mascarpone, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano set the stage for a sensational dinner.
This recipe makes a huge amount so I split this between two pans, the smaller of the two went directly to the freezer and we still had 8-10 servings.
Everyone loved it, each of us trying to describe our delight at the same time. Our daughter said, “This tastes like fall. It’s a little sweet, but then it’s not.“
Every bite is a nuance of engaging flavors and by the time we finished dinner, we finally agreed on a single word to describe it—delicious!
In fact, these flavors were so good together, I created a breakfast quiche based on these same components with the benefit of taking less time to make.
Step by Step
- Roast the butternut squash with the salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
- Sauté the onion, fennel, apple, sausage, and marjoram for 8 to 10 minutes; mix with butternut squash.
- Brown the butter, sage, and hazelnuts.
- Mix the ricotta, mascarpone, heavy cream, beaten eggs, half of the mozzarella, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Add the cooled brown-butter-sage-hazelnut mixture to the cheese and mix thoroughly.
- Assemble the lasagna. Squash and sausage—Parmesan and Stock—Pasta sheets—Cheese mixture—Pasta sheets—Repeat
- Top with the remaining grated mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- Cover the lasagna tightly with a piece of buttered foil and bake, undisturbed, for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes more.
- Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of sage.
More Comfort Food Recipes You’ll Love
- Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Manicotti with Marinara
- Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Turkey Pot Pie (Gluten-Free)
- Creamy Chicken Stew with Parmesan Dumplings Recipe
- Osso Buco Style Beef Short Ribs
- Meat Lover’s Zucchini Lasagna: Big Dish of Low-Carb Heaven
- Chicken Broccoli Casserole from Scratch with Fried Onion Topping
Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Lasagna
- 3 pounds butternut squash , peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups small-diced onion
- 1 cup small-diced fennel
- 1 cup cored and small-diced Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apple
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh fennel sausage , removed from casings and crumbled
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup fresh sage leaves , thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted hazelnuts
- 1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
- 1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese , grated (4 cups)
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles (about 8 ounces)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the butternut squash with the extra-virgin olive oil, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper and toss to coat the squash. Transfer the squash to a large baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Set the squash aside, covered, until cool.
- Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil, onion, fennel, apple, sausage, and marjoram and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sausage has browned and the vegetables have softened. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl, and set aside to cool. Gently fold the squash into the vegetable-sausage mixture.
- Heat the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble and brown, add 1/4 cup of the sage leaves and cook until they are brown and crisp, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chopped hazelnuts and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, heavy cream, beaten eggs, half of the mozzarella, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well to combine, then add the cooled brown-butter-sage-hazelnut mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
- Assemble the lasagna: Spread half of the butternut squash mixture in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, drizzle 1/4 cup of the stock over the top, and cover with 4 pasta sheets, leaving a little space between sheets. Spread 3 cups of the ricotta cheese mixture over the pasta sheets and cover with 4 more pasta sheets. Distribute the remaining half of the butternut squash mixture over the pasta, sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup of the remaining Parmesan, and drizzle with the remaining 1/4 cup stock. Place the final 4 pasta sheets over the top and spread the remaining ricotta mixture evenly over the pasta. Top with the remaining grated mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- Cover the lasagna tightly with a piece of buttered foil and bake, undisturbed, for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Let the lasagna stand for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of sage.