See, I told you I would make something that feels like fall. Butternut squash lasagna is one of my favorite fall dishes, and I make it several times each year. It’s sweet and cheesy and makes the whole house smell delicious. I have tried a few different recipes and this one is my favorite. Originally created by Giada de Laurentiis, and slightly adapted by my friend, Sarah. Giada calls for amaretti, crisp cookies made from almond paste, but Sarah used coconut macaroons, and woah was it good. So that’s what I now use, especially as they are easier to find (actually I just used a bit of sweetened coconut, toasted this last time).

This lasagna does not have any ricotta, and surprisingly for butternut squash lasagna, it doesn’t have sage either. It has luscious layers of a basil bechamel sauce, sweet butternut squash, and cheese. It almost tastes like dessert.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

1-2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 amaretti or macaroon cookies
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cup milk (preferably whole)
1 tbsp nutmeg
3/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (or fresh lasagna sheets, in the refrigerated section)
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400. On a large cookie sheet, toss the butternut squash cubes with 1 tbsp olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Squash should be tender but not mushy. Cool slightly, then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the crumbled macaroon cookies and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until thick and bubbly. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce to medium and simmer until sauce thickens. Stir often. Whisk in the nutmeg, and let cool slightly.

In the cleaned food processor (or blender), quickly chop the basil leaves. Add 3-4 ladles of the Béchamel (white sauce) into the food processor and blend together. Transfer the basil sauce back to the cooking pot and whisk together. Season with plenty of salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly spray a 9×13 inch dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the Béchamel sauce to the bottom of the dish, and arrange 3 lasagna noodles on top. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the top. Repeat these layers three more times, finishing with mozzarella.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese; continue baking uncovered for 15 minutes, until sauce bubbles. Let lasagna stand for 5 minutes before serving.