Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce

February 28, 2017
Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce - Quick, glamorous, from-scratch vegetarian lasagna? Yes, please!

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six.  If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.”     ~ Nora Ephron

Photo Credit: Glasbergen.com

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By night I work for corporate America in the field of I.T .. and lead a team of people based both in the U.S. and in India.  One of the Indian women I work with told me once about her arranged marriage

“It took me twelve years to fall in love with him.  I was deeply unhappy for most of those years.”

“What changed?  What made you start to love him after all of that time?”

“I simply changed my mind about him.  That's all.”

— — —

It's hard work to change your mind about someone (or yourself)

It's easy to survey your spouse at their worst and grow resentful   (or listen to the tape recorder in your head that whispers you're not good enough)

It's easy to watch grand sweeping romantic gestures in the movies, or on your Instagram feed, or your neighbor's front porch and wonder what it would be like to have a love so beautiful, so romantic, so celebratory  (or see beautiful fitness models, or your best friend who wears a size 2, and wonder what it would be like to truly be free of the weight)

It's easy to stop noticing the one who takes the puppies for their morning walk, and start wishing he'd bring home flowers more often  (or stop realizing just how far you've come on your weight loss journey, and think you'll never be able to make it the rest of the way)

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce - Quick, glamorous, from-scratch vegetarian lasagna? Yes, please!

Today, Part II of a short series devoted to “I can” .v.s. “I can't.”   A series inspired by a friend and coach who's on a mission to prove to her clients that “Yes, they can!”  Turns out the girl who's usually gung-ho tells herself “I can't” more often than I ever realized.

I thought it might be fun to share how I've handled a few of my can'ts these past few weeks, and found answers to the question

“So if you can't do that, what can you do instead?”

— — —

I can't remember to track my food; I don't have time

Listen, it's never an ideal time to start a new habit. It's never a good time to have a baby, to make the move, to join the gym. There’s always tomorrow; until there isn’t.  Start where you are; start today.

Tracking our food doesn't have to look like dedicated time to sit down and write it out

Instead, take a step back and look outside the box.  You'll be surprised by all of the little chunks of time there truly are in our days.  A few ideas?  Maybe you have a long commute on the bus, or a train stops you every morning, and you find yourself sitting at a railroad crossing.  Or you're standing in line at Target or the grocery.

Any time you're waiting, you have time

These apps can help

Photo Credit: Glasbergen.com

I can't work out; I'm injured

Rely on your ritual

There is nothing tidy about life, and injuries are bound to happen.  As those of us who have coached others will attest, this is a time that's easy for people to unravel (probably because we attach exercise so heavily to weight loss)

For the times your body fails you, take deep breaths, re-emerge gently, pour some tea, and let your mind take over instead

Every day at noon I drop the puppies off at for their afternoon playdate, stop at the Co-Op for a smoothie (a scoop of protein powder, please), drive the same route through campus, and wave to the kids working the front desk while I search for my gym pass.  Even on the weekends, I feel the itch to go for a walk in the early afternoon

“If I can't work this body part, what other parts can I do instead?”

There is a man who's a paraplegic and happens to be on a similar schedule.  If you want to know how to work your upper body, he's your guy

Maybe you're too physically sick to go to the gym?  You can focus on your food instead.  In this moment what's the most nourishing thing I can feed my body?

It’s easy to see your limitations if that’s what you choose to focus on

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce - Quick, glamorous, from-scratch vegetarian lasagna? Yes, please!

I can't work out; I don't have time

A pair of shoes and only a few minutes.  This is perhaps all you need to exercise.  Forget the fancy software, the convoluted methods.  Find what works for you, then whittle it down to the bare essentials

“I can't go to the gym for my hour-long workout, but no worries, I can .. ”

Do three push-ups in the morning.  Walk around my office building every time I get up to go to the bathroom.  Park farther away from the office and walk.  Do one extra circle around the grocery while I'm shopping.  Do five extra air-squats whenever I let the puppies out.

Like your body.  Respect it; treat it well.  Go easy on it.  Don't demand too much from it, nor too little.  Enjoy its company for the time you spend together.  Don't limit yourself.  If there are days when you aren't able to do what you normally do:

“What can I do instead?  Where can I squeeze a little extra bit of movement into my day?”

Let that be your mission, instead of throwing up your hands in defeat

These apps can help

I can’t lose weight; I'm on vacation

There is nothing tidy about losing weight or developing healthier habits, especially when you're on vacation.

It's messy, and like most good things, it gets harder before you find your rhythm.  Wade deep anyway; there's a sea of different ways it can be done.  Try them out.  Learn from them.  Use what worked.  Wear boots.

You can lose weight (or at the very least maintain)

There's a big difference between being focused, and saying “who cares” while eating everything in sight.  You're looking for that sweet spot somewhere in the middle; the place where you're feeding your body well the majority of the time, while still allowing a few treats and indulgences and keeping your weight the same

A new paradigm of sorts.  One in which the middle ground will be your point of focus (if it hasn't been before).  Therefore, devote your attention to daily actions you can take.  Losing weight is a byproduct of all of these little decisions

“What can I do through healthy habits while I'm on vacation?  I can .. “

Take control of my actions at each meal time.  Drink enough water.  Eat vegetables at each meal.  Feed myself consistency throughout the day.  Allow for one small treat every day

— — —

What if people or circumstances in your life cause you so much stress and anxiety that it's triggered dysfunctional eating?  What can we do then?

( .. to be continued .. )

Photo Credit: Everyday People Cartoons

I've been participating as part of the  Iowa Food and Family Project‘s blogger team in this year's annual Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge

My progress report after week 5?

Total minutes of activity this week = 240    and Overall = 2650   (a combination of walking, kickboxing, yoga, resistance class, and weight lifting)

Total pounds lost this week = -1.9  and Overall = 11.3

If there was ever was a challenging week, this was it.  It's been a long time since I've been this sick, for so many days.  My goodness, every time I thought “I've rounded the corner,” I realized, “Nope, not yet, go back to bed”

( .. to be continued .. )

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce - Quick, glamorous, from-scratch vegetarian lasagna? Yes, please!

When you live in a neighborhood like ours, word spreads quickly when someone needs a helping hand.  It wasn't long before hot bubbly casseroles, and homemade bread started appearing on our doorstep.  Along with them, stories of others in the neighborhood who've also been struggling with this terrible bug

So today, when I finally felt well enough to be in the kitchen, I spent that afternoon paying forward a fraction their kindness.  By late afternoon, delivering a couple hot and bubbly pans of my own to others who haven't yet to made it to the other side.

The next time you are in the mood for something creamy, rich, terribly decadent and uncompromisingly delicious, without it being a complete nutritional train wreck, this is your recipe.  Roasted butternut squash is blended with ricotta, shallots, garlic, and parmesan. It's then tucked into individual rolls and baked in bechamel sauce.

Rather than making a large tray, I like to make them into rolls for better portion control.

Flash forward third minutes and out of the oven comes a beautiful, golden-topped pan of something that is lasagna-esque in nature, or close enough.

They're a tad off-beat, and they're great.

A few notes about the recipe:

To save time, you can always buy pre-cut squash from the freezer section at the grocery

The pine nut gremolata is also amazing sprinkled on roasted veggies, veggie pizzas, or even ricotta toast



ps:  You can read more of the “I can” vs. “I can't”  series in Part I  |  Part III   |  Part IV

I'm participating as part of the  Iowa Food and Family Project‘s blogger team in this year's annual Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge.  More stories from the Challenge can be found here 

— — —

~ Adapted slightly from GFF Magazine | Fall 2016

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce


  • Lasagna Rolls
  • 3 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into ½ inch cubes (~ 4 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 9 lasagna noodles (to make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free noodles)
  • 15 oz whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • pinch nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp coarsely grated fontina cheese
  • 1 ½ cups béchamel sauce

  • Green Béchamel Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup firmly packed baby spinach
  • 1 ½ cups béchamel sauce
  • 1 recipe Pine Nut Gremolata

  • Béchamel Sauce
  • 5 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 5 Tbsp flour (any flour will be great)
  • 4 cups of milk
  • fine grain sea salt
  • pinch or two of nutmeg

  • Pine Nut Gremolata
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp orange zest
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped


  • Lasagna Rolls
  • Preheat the oven to 450° F
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

  • On the prepared baking sheet, toss the squash with olive oil, a strong pinch of sea salt, and a grind of black pepper. Roast, stirring halfway through cooking, until tender and browned in some places, (~20-25 min)
  • Set aside to cool

  • Turn the oven down to 375° F.
  • Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. (Have a bowl of ice water at the ready)
  • Cook the noodles until al dente and plunge them into the ice water. Drain, placing one layer on a baking sheet, and cover with a damp towel until needed

  • In a bowl, combine the butternut squash, ricotta, egg, nutmeg, lemon zest, and Parmigiano-Reggiano until combined. Season with a pinch of sea salt

  • Spread ¼ cup of the squash mix on each of the lasagna noodles, leaving a 1" border on both ends
  • Sprinkle each noodle with 2 Tbsp of the fontina cheese

  • Spread ½ cup béchamel on the bottom of a 9" square baking dish or cake pan.
  • Roll each noodle lengthwise and place it seam side down into the dish
  • Drizzle 1 cup béchamel over the rolls, cover loosely with foil, and bake until bubbling and brown (~ 40 min)
  • Turn on the broiler and broil for ~ 3 minutes and let it rest for 5 minutes

  • Green Béchamel Sauce
  • In a small saute pan, melt the butter with the sage over medium-high heat
  • Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until the spinach is wilted and soft (~ 1 to 2 minutes)
  • In a blender, puree the spinach mix with the béchamel sauce
  • Gently reheat the sauce before serving and season to taste with sea salt

  • To Serve
  • Place a few spoonfuls of green béchamel on each dinner plate
  • Top with a lasagna roll, sprinkle with gremolata and serve

  • Béchamel Sauce
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat
  • Add the flour and thick for 90 seconds to combine
  • Whisk in the milk, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer while stirring, for 10 minutes longer
  • Season with sea salt and the nutmeg

  • Pine Nut Gremolata
  • In a small bowl, add the parsley, garlic, pine nuts, and orange zest.
  • Stir to combine
Serves: 10
Nutrition + Show
Calories 370
Total Fat 19.2g
Saturated Fat 10.8g
Carbohydrates 30.8g
Fiber 4.2g
Sugars 6g
Protein 19.7g
Print This Recipe

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  • Reply Annemarie March 1, 2017 at 8:49 am

    5 stars
    I love how this post was written to incorporate humor, real life experience and a good healthy recipe! I am very interested to try this butternut squash lasagna. It would probably taste yummy because I love squash!

  • Reply Jeana March 1, 2017 at 10:35 am

    I love your positive outlook. I’ve also learned to not be too hard on myself and do what I can when I can’t do it all. Your recipe looks wonderful and I will most definitely be trying it! thanks for sharing it and your delightful insights on life.

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus March 1, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t know if I could be with someone for 12 years and not love them but my god what a story, the woman you worked with who fell in love after all that time. On the plus side your lasagna rolls are Faded Spring approved and I will definitely be pinning x

  • Reply Elise March 1, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    5 stars
    My goodness this looks incredible! Definitely bookmarking this to make at home! I love the humour and anecdotes you injected into this too, really livens up the piece!

  • Reply Anton March 2, 2017 at 12:16 am

    I love squash and this looks awesome. They’re rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and folate if ever anyone needed more reasons to have them 🙂

  • Reply Elizabeth O. March 2, 2017 at 1:06 am

    I can imagine how good this is! I love butternut squash and I also love lasagna, putting them together is a sure winner. I’m glad that you feel better now.

  • Reply Sienny March 2, 2017 at 3:20 am

    Wow! Am keeping your post sharing here for my reference, gonna try to make my own one 🙂 thanks for sharing this awesome recipe! Cheers, SiennyLovesDrawing

  • Reply Kareem Andebe March 2, 2017 at 4:26 am

    I appreciate the recipes and exquisite platters provided here. Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls appeals the taste buds!

  • Reply Naomi March 2, 2017 at 6:34 am

    I love this post, and recipie! Sounds lush <3

  • Reply Jessica Barnett March 2, 2017 at 9:31 am

    5 stars
    I love your stories before the recipe of the I can’t and cans.
    I know I can’t make this recipe- however I will surely try! lol!

  • Reply Justin March 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Looks so yummy. Have never tried a butternut squash lasagna, but I love the ravioli version of this!

  • Reply Alicia V March 2, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    5 stars
    This looks so absolutely delicious! I really like how you made great points on how to switch the I Can’t to I Can.

  • Reply Ashwathy March 2, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I loved the way you have started with story and then last to recipe. I will be a regular person here. Thanks for delicious recipe ❤️

  • Reply Heather March 2, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    I actually wrote about this today – we can still maintain health and be active with modifications if necessary. I’m huge butternut squash fan. These look amazing. I’ve made a ravioli that looks similar; will definitely try this. oh and PS – I will be 41 this year. Still planning on wearing the two-piece. 😉

  • Reply Anvita March 2, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Very often when I don’t like something , I try and change the way I look at things and it sure does make a difference. Very inspiring post.
    I have never tried this sauce before, but would love to.

  • Reply Tatanisha March 2, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    This recipe sounds absolutely amazing. It definitely would fit well into the healthier eating habits I’ve been focusing on. Your’e right, it’s so hard to be content when our body fails us or to be content with what we have such as our husband. We women can be daydreamers but reality is reality and we need to choose to accept it and if we’re really that unhappy, we need to accept it as is and then work to change it. I’ll tell you what, I’m very thankful that my husband takes care of the pups in the morning and evening. Flowers die but he’s consistent and it’s appreciated. 🙂

  • Reply Carol March 2, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Gosh, these look so good. Your food photography is just amazing. It makes me want to dive in there and take a bite. Can’t wait to try this recipe. It’s nice to see a healthier take on pasta.

  • Reply Jennifer S March 2, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    5 stars
    I love the I cans & can’ts stories! The recipe sounds delicious! I’m not sure anyone else in my house would eat it (picky eaters) but I would make it for me for meal prep! It would be delicious and filling!

  • Reply Nina March 2, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    My dad always talks about how love is a choice. Because after a period of time, the honey moon phase ends. So in the end, love means that you choose to commit to someone.

  • Reply Echo March 2, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    5 stars
    Oh man! This looks really good! I love lasagna in almost every form, but I have never had it like this. I have also never seen a green bechamel sauce! It looks so fantastic and fresh! I really want to try this!

  • Reply Krystal March 2, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I love lasagna but have NEVER had butternut squash lasagna! I actually just found butternut squash pasta sauce in the store and picked up a jar, but I bet it would be better if I made it myself. I am loving how easy this dish look!

  • Reply Joely Smith March 2, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    5 stars
    Hello YUM! I LOVE Béchamel sauce but have never made green Béchamel sauce before. Now I am totally going to! My husband and I also do love butternut squash so this recipe is a total WIN in my book! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Reply Ady March 2, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    5 stars
    I love the “love” one, it’s a choice, even after being married only 8 months, the advice we have received the most is that it takes a lot of work. The Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls and Green Béchamel Sauce sounds so delicious I may try and make it one day

  • Reply Angie Rose March 2, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    This looks simply delicious! I grow some butternut squash every year in my garden, and I’m always looking for ways to use it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Reply Rana Sabeh March 2, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    5 stars
    First – I love that cartoon because I just had a cookie….some moments require a cookie. Second, OMG I think I just found my new favorite recipe! I LOVE the creaminess and natural sweetness of butternut squash in ravioli I can only imagine how delicious it will be in lasagna! Thank you for posting this recipe, I am so excited to try it!

  • Reply Betty March 3, 2017 at 12:01 am

    What a healthy recipe! I have not worked much with butternut squash so I will have to try this. I love your pictures!!!

  • Reply Kristy March 3, 2017 at 8:36 am

    I am trying really hard to make healthy decisions and working out more. This Butternut Squash Lasagna looks absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to try it — I hope my family loves it as much I think I will!

  • Reply chichi March 3, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    butternut squash is such a healthy alternative, i have had it a couple of times as a substitute for my pasta and really loved the texture, i wish i could eat this dish right now!

  • Reply Hannah March 3, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    4 stars
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I didn’t know that Lasagna can be made out from butternut squash.

  • Reply Jennifer L March 3, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    5 stars
    Omg this looks so delicious! I love a good lasagna but I’ve never made one with butternut but now I definitely want to make one. Thanks for this great recipe!

  • Reply Lindsey March 4, 2017 at 12:37 am

    3 stars
    What a great post and a delicious looking meal. One that would certainly be a hit my home and also great positive story

  • Reply Olivia March 4, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    YUM!! These look and sound so tasty and yummy! I’m always looking for new recipes with lots of veggies (I hate veggies but need to eat more) and I can’t wait to try this recipe out! Thanks for sharing :))

  • Reply Danielle March 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    5 stars
    Yummy. Looks so delish. Have to give it a try

  • Reply Travelosio March 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I started to do yoga last year to (help) fix my back problem and it progressed into a workout routine 3 times a week. The only part that I think I need to work on is my food and tracking it. I will check out your app suggestions see if one works for me.

  • Reply The Kiwi Couple March 4, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    This looks so amazing and delicious!

  • Reply Joanna March 6, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Now this is a different recipe of lasagna, totally innovative. I would love to try it, especially that I have a butternut squash waiting to be cooked in my fridge. it’s so nice that in your neighborhood people still care about their neighbors and they are kind to each other.

  • Reply Claudia Blanton March 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    5 stars
    I love anything pasta, and Lasagna if done well, is so far on the top of my list, that my family is probably tired of it, lol. Well, with this recipe I will be able to add a little variety to the mix, so thank you. Blessings!

  • Reply Julie March 6, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    5 stars
    I haven’t tried butter squash but this dish here looks so YUMMY! I LOVE lasagna or anything pasta. I’m going to have to try the Green Béchamel Sauce…looks tasty.

  • Reply diana March 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    5 stars
    wow this looks yummy. will try this one for sure. i like the witty style of writing and framing your ideas. Loved the post. looking forward to more.

  • Reply Ana Ojha March 8, 2017 at 1:20 am

    5 stars
    I loved the quote of Nora Ephron! I totally agree with you that there is no point in seeing our limitations and focussing on what we can’t do. Instead, we need to think out of the box and believe that why we can’t do! Your Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce looks incredibly delicious and mouth-watering! Another brilliant recipe from your bucket! Your pictures make me feel like grabbing it inside from my laptop right now!

  • Reply kathryn Maher March 12, 2017 at 8:27 am

    5 stars
    Hi just a few minutes ago before I decided to read and comment I told myself it was too miserable to go walking . I just read your post and again the I CAN’T seems petty and lazy as there is no reason for me not to go out and excerise. Reading about the people you know and their struggles makes me feel a bit well ………I CAN……..and ……WILL. Thanks.

  • Reply Lindsey April 1, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    This is a perfect Meat Free Monday dish, perfect for the whole family be it for dinner or a lunch treat!

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