I like lasagna filling more than I like noodles, and I hate trying to keep track of all the boiled noodles without losing the little ruffled edges. Therefore I make lasagna that has a higher filling to noodle ratio--and use oven ready noodles so I don't have to stress about separating cooked noodles. This make ahead dish makes a 'small family' size pan (9 inch square) of lasagna, great for a couple of leftovers but not weeks of leftovers.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
3 pints tomato sauce or tomato puree (not paste)
½ cup chopped basil leaves (mine were frozen)
3 to 4 cloves roasted garlic (here's how I roast and put up my crop) or minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
5 to 6 cups baby spinach, wilted
8 ounces roasted butternut squash (if cut in half, a squash takes about 20-45 min at 400 degrees)
12 ounces ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese, or a blend of each)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup shredded asiago
8 pieces (½ box) oven ready lasagna noodles
You'll notice that I'm not starting off with "preheat the oven . . .". That's not an omission. I think the finished lasagna is better if the noodles have a chance to soak up the sauce before baking. My homemade sauce is not concentrated, so it is the perfect liquid for the noodles to absorb and I wanted to make sure that the noodles had the time to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives and then get a move on before I cranked up the heat.
In a saucepan, simmer the tomatoes, basil, smashed garlic, sugar and salt while you prepare the filling (about 15-20 minutes). In a large skillet over medium heat, stir the spinach with ¼ cup water for 5-10 minutes until wilted and nearly dry.
In a large bowl, combine squash, ricotta, egg, and spices until thoroughly mixed. Stir in spinach. In a 9 inch square pan ladle ½ cup sauce across the bottom. Top with 2 noodles. Spread ⅓ of ricotta mixture over noodles, top with ½ cup mozzarella cheese and 1 cup sauce. Repeat layers of noodle/ricotta/cheese/sauce 2 more times, then top with final pair of noodles. Cover top layer of noodles with the rest of the sauce, the rest of the mozzarella cheese, and the asiago cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and set the pan on the counter to take the chill off while the oven is preheating. [This is probably not necessary with a metal pan, but mine is ceramic and I don't want to subject it to wild temperature swings.] Bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes uncovered until edges are browned and crispy. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing.