Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna

tray of pumpkin spinach lasagna with sage leaves

To all the vegetarians reading this: be warned. If you’re planning to make Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna as a meat-free main course for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, make extra. 

Because all of the roast turkey or spiral-sliced ham eaters at your dinner will eat this too. They might even take seconds.

So bring a backup lasagna, or get ready to elbow your way to the front of the line. 

As a meat eater myself, I’d like to apologize for all the times I’ve made Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna for the vegetarian in my family and taken a large portion for myself. I’m sorry for all the times I’ve eaten the leftovers.

I’m sorry that I’m not sorry. 

Layers of noodles stuffed with spinach and mozzarella, doused with creamy pumpkin béchamel, and topped with salty Parmesan cheese is the kind of meat-free main dish that is welcoming to omnivores too.

Let’s make pumpkin spinach lasagna 

The secret to any good lasagna recipe is a good béchamel. Béchamel is a heated mixture of butter, flour, and milk that combines to make a ridiculously creamy sauce.

A can of puréed pumpkin and a pinch of nutmeg turn the classic béchamel into something that plays nicely with roast turkey and cranberry sauce—even if they get jealous sometimes.

It’s important that the milk stirred into the flour/butter mixture is hot, or the béchamel sauce will get lumpy. If lumps do appear, just whisk them vigorously until your bicep hurts. 

Once you’ve finished the béchamel, and perhaps done some light arm stretches, you’ll make the spinach filling.

This recipe calls for a full pound of baby spinach.

As you add the greens to a large skillet (with onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, lots of salt, and plenty of olive oil) they’ll wilt easily and beg for more. So more you’ll give. Depending on how big your skillet is, you might have to wilt the greens in batches. 

Finally, you’ll combine all the layers: pumpkin béchamel, noodles, spinach filling, three types of cheese (why not!?), more pumpkin béchamel. Repeat. 

How to make fried sage leaves

While not required, crispy fried sage leaves make an excellent garnish. Pumpkin and sage were made for each other, and the delicate green leaves add delicious color to the top of this orange-hued bake. Here’s how to make them:

  1. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
  2. Fry sage leaves, in batches so as to not crowd the pan, until crisp, 2–3 seconds. Use a fork to transfer to paper towels and sprinkle with flaky salt.

Make-ahead pumpkin lasagna

To make this in advance, assemble the lasagna fully, double wrap it with plastic wrap, cover it with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator the night before Thanksgiving, take it out Thanksgiving morning to bring it to room temperature, then bake it according to instructions. You can also bake straight from frozen, you’ll just need to cook it longer. It’s done when its hot all the way through and bubbling around the edges.

Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (15 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)
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Dinner American
By Samantha Serves: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A hearty vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving- lasagna stuffed with spinach and mozzarella, doused with creamy pumpkin béchamel, and topped with Parmesan.

Ingredients

  • For the Pumpkin Béchamel
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups hot milk
  • 1 15-oz can pureed pumpkin
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • For the Lasagna
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • 1 box oven-ready/no-boil lasagna noodles (usually 9oz)
  • 16 oz fresh mozzarella, shredded on the large holes of a box grater or torn
  • 8 oz fontina or gruyère cheese, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • Fried sage leaves, optional (find recipe in blog post)

Instructions

1

Heat the oven to 375°F.

2

Make the béchamel: In a medium saucepan, heat butter on medium until browned and fragrant, swirling often, 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn butter. Add flour, cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. While whisking, slowly add the hot milk. Cook 4 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened, whisking frequently. Stir in the pumpkin, big pinch of salt, several cracks of pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer for another minute or two, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary- it should be well-seasoned and not bland. Set aside.

3

Heat a large skillet over medium. Add olive oil and chopped onion; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Working in batches, place the spinach in the pan, adding more as it wilts. Add a drizzle of olive oil between batches if the pan starts to look dry. Taste and add salt if needed. If there appears to be a lot of liquid in the pan after the spinach is cooked, drain it in a colander, squeezing out excess liquid.

4

To assemble the lasagna: add ⅓ of the béchamel to the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Place lasagna noodles on top. They should be snug but not overlapping (slight overlapping is okay). Add half of the spinach mixture on top of the noodles. Cover with 1/3 of each type of cheese. Pour another ⅓ of the béchamel over the cheeses. Add another layer of noodles, remaining spinach mixture, and another 1/3 of each cheese. Top with last layer of noodles. Pour remaining béchamel over and top with remaining cheese.

5

Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes longer or until edges are bubbly and golden brown.

6

Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes. Top with fried sage leaves before serving.

Notes

I like a refreshing white wine to balance out the richness of this dish. Try a Pinot Gris or a sparkling wine like Prosecco or Cava.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Kirkane
    January 18, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    I really love this pumpkin spinach lasagna recipe. I found directions clear and easy to follow. My prep time was closer to 30 minutes but this was the first time I’ve made it. It turned out great and was a hit with all our guests. This one is a keeper!!

  • Reply
    kirkane
    January 18, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    I really love this recipe. The first time I tried was when my son and his fiance brought to Thanksgiving dinner. It was the only dish that was totally consumed. I made it myself and found the directions clear and easy to follow. My prep time was closer to 30 minutes but it is the first time I made it. Again it was a big hit with everyone. This one is a Keeper!!

    • Reply
      Samantha
      January 19, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind words and the feedback! I will update the recipe card to reflect the 30 minute prep time- thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    Robert
    December 13, 2021 at 9:19 am

    This will definitely be on the menu this Christmas~ thank you Samantha!

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