Butternut Squash and Kale Slow Cooker Lasagna is a game changer – saves you so much time and hassle! You’ll never want to boil noodles for lasagna again. This version is packed with my favorite seasonal vegetables – butternut squash and kale. Is winter over yet? My body and brain are confused. One minute Boston’s getting hit with a snow storm that puts the city on hold (and my husband stuck in Kansas City) and the next it’s 50 degrees outside and I’m enjoying a leisurely walk outside without my parka. It’s a strange winter with lots of up and down temps. As much as I’d like to hope that this string of warmer weather is a sign that spring is around the corner, I’m playing it safe and taking proper precautions that another snow storm is imminent. Precautions = cooking up all the warming comfort meals, like this slow cooker lasagna.
There’s nothing like having a warm, hearty meal in front of you while watching the snow blowing in every which way outside. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. It’s the way our bodies are programmed to eat. When it’s hot, we crave cool foods – like salads and fruit. And baby, when it’s cold outside, we crave warm, comforting foods. This logic is also in line with Ayurvedic diet recommendations. Lasagna has always been a favorite comfort food of mine. The Italian in me smiles a little on the inside every time I have it. But it’s not the easiest or fastest dish to make and requires a decent amount of prep work. Not only do you have to bake it for close to an hour, you have to boil a pot of water, cook the noodles and dry the noodles too BEFORE you can even think about assembling. I remember asking my Mom as a kid why she didn’t make lasagna more often and she said that it was a pain to make. I know my Mom is not alone in feeling this way. So, I was pretty excited when I had the inclination to try making lasagna in the slow cooker. I thought if this goes well, my lasagna making career could be forever changed.And it did go well. Very well, in fact. So well that this recipe was featured on as a favorite slow cooker lasagna recipe on Today.com. And it happens to be one of the top 5 most popular recipes on my blog. So, when I had a couple readers comment that roasting the squash and sautéing the kale ahead of time defeated the purpose of “set it and forget it,” I had to agree with them. So, I retested the recipe letting the slow cooker do all the work for you – no need to cook veggies beforehand. No baking pans or pots of water necessary (hello, minimal clean up!). And I was able to throw this together at lunchtime and have dinner ready by evening. All hail the slow cooker!
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 small bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
- 1 3/4 24oz jars marinara sauce
- 12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Toss butternut squash in a large mixing bowl with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, basil, garlic powder, egg and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with 1 cup of sauce. Layer 3 noodles on top, breaking as needed to fit. Spread 1/3 of ricotta mixture over the noodles. Add 1/3 of kale and butternut squash over the ricotta. Top with 1 cup of sauce. Repeat this layering 2 more times. Top with one more layer of noodles and sauce.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Top with mozzarella cheese and cover for about 10 minutes (or until melted).
To save additional time, purchase already peeled and cubed butternut squash. Save the leftover tomato sauce for reheating/serving.
Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2015 and has been completely retested and reshot to give you the most delicious post possible.
Love the slow cooker? Check out these recipes for more time saving dinners: