Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna

Overhead shot of pumpkin spinach lasagna in a casserole dish.

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 dinner, make extra. 

Because all the turkey eaters at your Thanksgiving 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. 

Overhead shot of a piece of pumpkin spinach lasagna on a white plate with a fork.

As a turkey eater, I’d like to apologize for all the times I’ve made this for the vegetarians 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. 

Piece of pumpkin spinach lasagna being lifted up from the casserole dish.

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

Even if they weren’t invited.

Let’s make pumpkin spinach lasagna 

The secret to any good lasagna recipe is a good béchamel sauce. 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 sauce, 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. 

Piece of pumpkin spinach lasagna on a plate with a bite taken out of it.

This would also be great with mushrooms added to the spinach filling if you’re truly unafraid of vegetables.

Finally, you’ll combine all the layers: pumpkin béchamel, noodles, spinach filling, mozzarella, more pumpkin béchamel. Repeat. 

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. 

Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna

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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 45 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 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups hot milk
  • 1 15 ounce can pureed pumpkin
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • For the Lasagna
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 box oven-ready/no-boil lasagna noodles (usually 9oz)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan, plus more for serving

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2

Make the béchamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. 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, salt, ½ tsp pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer a few more minutes, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary- it should be well-salted and not bland. Set aside.

3

In a large skillet, add olive oil and chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes until the onion is fully translucent. Season with 1 tsp salt. Add garlic, spinach, red pepper flakes and 1 more teaspoon salt to the skillet, along with another drizzle of olive oil. Cook until the spinach is wilted, you might have to do this in batches. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

4

To assemble the lasagna: add ⅓ of the béchamel to the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Layer over about 4 lasagna noodles lengthwise. You can break the lasagna pieces to make them fit snugly without any overlap. Add half of the spinach mixture on top of the noodles. Cover with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Pour another ⅓ of the béchamel over the mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles, remaining spinach mixture, and remaining mozzarella. Top with last layer of noodles. Pour remaining béchamel over the top layer of noodles. Sprinkle with parmesan.

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, top with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan and a few cranks of black pepper. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

  • 539 Calories

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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