Butternut Squash Lasagne
Hidden somewhere in the large archive of dishes that have not lately featured on the menu for the Greens is lasagne. I have not even thought of cooking it for the whole time we have had Little Boy Green, although pre-little person we enjoyed many a Sunday evening with an oven dish of unctuous comfort. The disappearance of such a classic is all the more mystifying given that Little Boy Green adores pasta and loves it bathed in a thick tomato sauce and some nutritional yeast. In light of all this, not having introduced lasagne to him is a grave omission. Since Little Boy Green is a total lasagne novice, we decided to introduce it to him with some flavours and textures already familiar to him (the “cheese” filling is similar to what we use on pizza) but, at least on this iteration, substituting the pasta layers with butternut squash. This is our take on a classic tomato and cheese lasagna. This is not to say that some time soon we might not let him feast on the traditional version with wholegrain pasta sheets.
This recipe was a double challenge as instead of making it with pasta, which he loves, we also made it with butternut squash, which he is generally not terribly fond of (Why? What’s there for a two-year-old not to like? Strange boy.). The squash is roasted just enough, leaving it with a little bite, similar to pasta cooked al dente. The tomato sauce is a simple marinara using a thick passata (aka rustica), garlic and olive oil. The “cheese” or “bechamel” is made with cashew nuts, nutritional yeast and cauliflower and made thick and soft and delicious with the addition of arrowroot.
Roasting the squash brings out its sweet flavours and, even if I’m not the number one fan of nutmeg in most recipes, it adds a nice nutty and somewhat festive hint to the squash. The squash and tomato sauce cook in 15 minutes, and the “cheese” can be made in the mean time. All in all, this little treat should not take more than 45 minutes from chopping to serving. We allowed the three parts to cool before stacking and found that when served at warm room temperature it was delicious.
For a more traditional lasagne, once cooked, all three parts could be layered in a baking dish and grilled in an oven for 5 minutes or until the “cheese” bubbles and browns.
We topped ours with Plant Based Parmesan for a little crunchy texture and an added savoury note.
- Butternut squash discs sliced from the top part of the squash
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup tomato passata
- 1 medium clove of garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Fresh basil leaves to garnish
- 1/2 a small sized cauliflower, florets only, 250g, 2cups roughly chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup cashews (preferably soaked for 2 hrs)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp arrowroot
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Peel the butternut squash and slice into 3/4 cm (roughly 1/2”) rounds and place in a large bowl with nutmeg, salt and olive oil, and toss to combine well.
- Place the squash onto a lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, flipping once. They should be cooked, but retain a slight crunch.
- Dice the 2 cloves of garlic and place with the olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan on a low heat (we like to use one that is bigger than needed as the sauce will “spit” when hot).
- Fry garlic for just over a minute allowing the garlic to brown slightly. Medium heat, careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the passata and salt, turn up the heat and bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
- Chop the cauliflower and add along with the water and salt to a medium sized sauce pan
- Bring to the boil, lower heat to medium and cook, covered, for about 8 minutes (it should be very soft)
- Place cauliflower and cooking water along with remainder of ingredients into a food processor and process into a smooth paste
- Return paste to the sauce pan and place on a medium heat, stirring continuously (preferably with a spatula) until it becomes thick and viscous, approximately 5 minutes.
To layer, start with a little tomato sauce to stop the squash from sticking to the plate, next place a disc of squash followed by a layer of cauliflower filling, then another squash disc, and repeat until you have reached the desired height. Finally top with tomato sauce. Garnish with basil leaves and a generous sprinkling of Plant Based Parmesan.