Butternut Squash Lasagna

IMG_2027In my early cooking years, I was “lasagna challenged”.  I don’t even remember why (maybe drinking wine and cooking not a good mix??) but it became the example of the failed dinner, only good enough for the waste bin before reaching for the takeout menu.  We all have these failures, especially when we are still wearing our cooking training wheels.  Since then I’ve grown to love cooking and turn out some pretty fantastic meals these days, so just goes to show you that if your early efforts aren’t edible, don’t give up!

A few years ago my sister-in-law showed me how lasagna can be the easiest dish ever to make.  Lasagna noodles (many don’t even need to be cooked ahead of time), jarred spaghetti sauce with ground beef, and mozzarella cheese.  Cook the meat, add the sauce, layer in the pan and bake.  Pretty easy and no one was complaining.

After we went Paleo, noodles were no longer on the menu although I’ve made the old recipe a few times with gluten free noodles when the kids really want to have it.  I’ve found a few paleo lasagna recipes, some easy and some quite involved, and our favorite for awhile was one from everydaypaleo.com made with ground beef, hot Italian sausage and sliced zucchini.  But it was always a bit watery from the zucchini.

Always on the lookout for a better option, I came across this recipe from paleoleap.com.  The butternut squash is PERFECT as noodles, tender and not watery at all.  I significantly upped the seasoning amounts (one thing I’ve learned from the paleo blogs is don’t be shy with the spices) and have made it both with ground beef only or half ground beef/half hot Italian sausage when we want it more spicy.  And other than the time slicing the squash this recipe is just about as speedy as the traditional fast version.

Cooking tip:  It’s important to cover with foil for the first 1/2 hour of cooking otherwise the squash doesn’t get tender enough before the top starts getting browned.  You can use tomato sauce or puree, there isn’t much difference but I thought the puree was a little thicker and worked well.  I love the Muir Glenn organic brand.

  • 2 lbs ground beef (or 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb Hot Italian sausage)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced (food processor works great for slicing)
  • 28 oz can tomato puree
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat (ghee,  coconut oil or best of both coconut ghee) (duck fat would also be awesome here)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan (I like using glass) with coconut oil.
  3. In a large saucepan or dutch oven on medium heat, melt cooking fat and saute the onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the beef and cook until browned, breaking up into small pieces
  5. Add basil and oregano, mix well.
  6. Add tomato puree, sauce and paste.  Turn heat down to low and let simmer for about 10 min.
  7. To prepare the lasagna: alternate layers of meat then squash in the baking dish until you’ve used all the sauce.  I usually get 3 layers of meat and 2 layers of squash.  (Keep any extra squash to make a half recipe of yummy Skillet Squash and Greens.)
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 1/2 hour.
  9. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until squash is fork tender and top is browned.
  10. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

This stores well in the fridge and is even better reheated as leftovers, perfect for lunch or a quick dinner.  Sometimes I’ll cook this up on the weekend when I am making other dishes then save it to reheat for a super fast dinner during the week.

It’s a far cry from that first awful lasagna – we LOVE this version.

I am grateful each day for wellness, happiness and the opportunity to share with you.