Yes, it’s okay. You can show off to your non-vegan friends with this recipe. It’s creamy, it’s decadent. It’s entirely plant-based and easily gluten-free. And did we mention – it’s also freaking delicious?
Our Creamy Butternut Squash Lasagna relies on cashews, lemon zest, sage and fresh greens for its pop. The hazelnuts on top, mixed with bread crumbs add to the richness and sophistication. This dish is not super fast, as you need to make two batches of “cream” in the food processor or blender, as well as cooking the noodles, but, we assure you – it’s perfect for a holiday table and will be a big hit with friends, family and colleagues.
Cook’s Note: If nut allergies are a concern, you can swap the cashews for sunflower seeds or almonds, as tolerated and flip the hazelnuts with toasted hemp seeds or pepitas, or just omit them. To make this recipe gluten free, use GF lasagna noodles, such as Tinkyada, and top with GF bread crumbs, like Metropolitan, or make your own with GF bread or cereals. We like One Degree Maize Flakes or Rice Cereal for this purpose.Creamy Butternut Squash Lasagna
2 cups cashews, soaked in 4 cups water for 4 to 8 hours
3 cups butternut squash, cubed and cooked
2 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
pinch cayenne (optional)
pinch white pepper (or more, if desired)
salt, to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil
zest of one lemon
1 tsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, minced
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups fresh Swiss chard, washed, stemmed and shredded (spinach would also be good)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, stemmed and roughly chopped
splash of dry white wine (optional)
9 lasagna noodles, prepared according to package directions
1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped to quarter-size
2/3 cup breadcrumbs (we used fresh bread)
Before beginning the recipe, it is crucial to have the cashews soaked, and butternut squash cubed and cooked. Be sure to do both of these things in advance of making the lasagna.
Start by draining the cashews and dividing them. You need 2/3 of the soaked cashews for the squash cream filling and 1/3 for the basil cream filling. Set aside the third of the cashews for the basil cream.
In a food processor or high speed blender, add 2/3 of the cashews and process until mostly broken down but not to the point you have cashew butter. Add the cooked butternut squash, dried sage, dried thyme, nutmeg, cayenne, white pepper and salt. Process until all ingredients are incorporated and smooth. When done, set aside; the squash cream will be two layers of the lasagna.
Rinse out the food processor or blender bowl and add the remaining third of the soaked cashews, as well as the fresh basil and lemon zest. Process until ingredients make a smooth green cream. This layer smells wonderful! Set aside until ready to assemble lasagna.
Preheat oven to 375.
At this point, place lasagna noodles into a pot of boiling water. Different varieties cook for different lengths of time, so read the box. Be sure to slightly undercook by 1 or 2 minutes, as the noodles will cook more in the oven.
Next, make the greens layer while your noodles cook. In a large pan over medium heat, sauté the minced onion and garlic in olive oil for about 3 to 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add chopped Swiss chard and fresh parsley, cooking a few minutes until wilted. If using, add the splash of dry white wine and cook about 1 to 2 more minutes. Set aside off heat.
To assemble the lasagna, first spray the casserole dish (we used 9×13) with nonstick spray or wipe it with olive oil. The first layer will be 3 lasagna noodles, placed next to each other. Top with 1/2 of the squash cream (spread evenly) and all of the chard/onion mixture. Add another layer of 3 noodles. Top with all of the basil cream, spreading evenly. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Smear last half of the squash cream across the entire surface of the lasagna. Sprinkle top with breadcrumbs and hazelnuts.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, covered with foil. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes to crisp the topping. Serve warm.