Hearty Sweet Potato Lasagna

published Sep 4, 2021
Sweet Potato Lasagna

The sweet potato lasagna's sweetness complements the savory meat sauce.

Serves6 to 8

Prep20 minutes

Cook1 hour 40 minutes

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a piece of sweet potato lasagna on a gray plate with an olive oil bottle and parmesan block in the background
Credit: Tara Holland

Making lasagna (even an easier lasagna modification) can be a bit of a project, and I’m not going to lie: It’s most definitely not a quick and easy back-to-school option. I believe that the much-loved layered dish is meant for the weekend, when you can leisurely prep and cook each stage while enjoying a glass of red wine. (I promise that this is not the only reason why I add a cup to my meat sauce; it adds depth and richness, honest governor!) The process is worth every ounce of effort. And when I take that first bite or see the look of glee on my husband’s face, I think to myself, I should make lasagna more often.

This gluten-free version uses thin slices of sweet potato instead of pasta, and trust me: You won’t miss it. The final lasagna is equally comforting and filling, with an added sweetness and creaminess to complement the savory meat sauce.

For the sauce, I always like to add 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce to mine (it’s the Brit in me!). The vinegar it’s made with helps to round out the richness. I also add a touch of sugar to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. It’s a trick I learned at culinary school, and I’ve never looked back. (If you are watching your sugar intake, feel free to omit it.)

This recipe calls for a 50:50 ratio of Italian sweet sausage meat to ground beef to add a different layer of flavor and texture. However, you can stick with just one kind of meat if you prefer. I also make a vegetarian meat sauce for my daughter by replacing the sausage and beef with 1 pound of Impossible “meat” and using vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (available online) and vegan Parmesan instead.

What Type of Sauce Should I Use with Potato Lasagna?

Although this recipe uses a standard tomato-based meat sauce, you could try a creamy Alfredo-type sauce instead. A vodka sauce would also be delicious. 

What Cheese Tastes Best with Sweet Potato Lasagna?

Mozzarella is a perfect cheese to add gooeyness to each layer. Salty Parmesan is a classic accompaniment to lasagna, and ricotta adds a rich creaminess.

What to Serve with Sweet Potato Lasagna

The lasagna is rich and comforting on its own, but would be accompanied perfectly by the following: 

Credit: Tara Holland

Sweet Potato Lasagna

The sweet potato lasagna's sweetness complements the savory meat sauce.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 40 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds

    sweet potatoes (about 3 large)

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 2 large sprigs

    fresh oregano, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil, divided, plus more for the pan

  • 8 ounces

    ground beef (preferably 85% lean)

  • 8 ounces

    uncooked sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed if using links

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 3 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 1 cup

    dry red wine

  • 1/4 cup

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    Italian seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    crushed tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    small lemon

  • 1 large sprig

    fresh basil

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 (15- to 16-ounce) container

    whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 5 ounces

    Parmesan (about 1 1/4 cups firmly packed grated on a Microplane), divided

  • 16 ounces

    low-moisture, whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (4 cups)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Peel 2 pounds sweet potatoes. Cut crosswise into 1/8 inch-thick rounds with a mandoline. (Alternatively, cut a sliver of potato from one side to make a flat surface, then slice crosswise into 1/8 inch-thick slices with a knife.) Finely chop 1 large yellow onion and mince 3 cloves garlic. Pick the leaves from the 2 large fresh oregano sprigs and coarsely chop (2 tablespoons).

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  4. Push the onion mixture to one side of the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Crumble 8 ounces ground beef and 8 ounces sausage into the empty side of the skillet, and break up the meat with a wooden spoon into smaller pieces. Cook until meat is browned underneath, then stir with onion mixture to combine. Season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper.

  5. Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the oregano, 1 cup dry red wine, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if using. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 1 to 2 minutes more to allow some of the alcohol to burn off.

  6. Add 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes. Add 1 cup water to the tomato can and swirl to release any leftover tomato sauce from the sides of the can. Add the tomato-water and 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.

  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has thickened slightly and flavors have melded, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finely grate 5 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 cups). Shred 16 ounces mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups).

  8. Make the ricotta filling: Finely zest 1 small lemon into a medium bowl. Thinly slice the leaves from 1 large fresh basil sprig and add to bowl. Add 2 large eggs and beat lightly with a fork to combine. Add 1 container ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine.

  9. When the sauce is ready, taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

  10. Assemble the lasagna: Set aside the largest pieces of sweet potato for the top layer. Arrange 1/3 of the sweet potato slices in the baking dish in an even layer, overlapping them slightly as needed. Dollop half of the ricotta mixture onto the sweet potatoes and spread into an even layer. Spoon half the meat sauce over the ricotta and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with 1 1/3 cups of the mozzarella.

  11. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining sweet potato slices, the remaining ricotta mixture, remaining meat sauce, and 1 1/3 cups of the mozzarella. Top with the remaining sweet potato slices, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/3 cups mozzrella and remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan.

  12. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil. Bake until the sweet potatoes are almost cooked through, about 45 minutes.

  13. Uncover the lasagna. If needed, spoon any excess liquid off the top of the lasagna. Bake uncovered until the cheese on top is bubbly and golden-brown, about 15 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The lasagna can be assembled up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Let sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.