Butternut Squash and Garlicky Kale Lasagna with Brazil Nut Cheese
November 14, 2012

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Last night, my friend Anne and I had a chance to catch up after quite a few weeks without our customary conversation and laughter. We’re both in the middle of finishing up rigorous academic programs (Anne, an MPH/RD, me, the post-bacc), and so time is quite scarce for us. Normally when we meet up, we try to do “ingredient potlucks,” where we pool all of the stuff in our respective fridges and prepare it together at one of our homes; this time, Anne was busy incorporating some edits into her master’s paper, so I said that I’d be happy to host her and do a bit of cooking and prep before she got to my place.

When I surveyed my home, I realized that I had a glut of butternut squash, and I also had a container of brown rice lasagna noodles (from Tinyaka) that had been hanging out my kitchen for a good long time. I’ve seen butternut squash lasagna recipes on many a blog, so I figured I’d try a simple version out, using the squash and the bunch of kale I’d just gotten this week. There’s no vegan “ricotta” or melted vegan cheese in this recipe, but I did create a Brazil nut and pumpkin “cheese” to spread on top of the lasagna, and I think it is a great recipe to enjoy on its own, too!

There are a couple of important things to note about this recipe

  1. If you don’t have time to make the nut cheese, it’s cool. It adds to the recipe but doesn’t make or break it, so you can definitely top it with some extra kale instead of the cheese, or simply eat it without a sauce/spread on top at all. This will save you a bit of time!
  2. Unlike a lasagna that uses a lot of sauce, this lasagna is fairly “dry” as you bake it, so you have to cook the noodles all the way through before baking, rather than par-boiling them. I wouldn’t use the no-boil noodles if I were you!
  3. It’s important to cover the lasagna as you cook it: the noodles on top will get really dry if you don’t. A sheet of foil is all it takes.
  4. The butternut filling is super tasty, and I think it would work on its own as a delicious side dish. The trick is to mash it up enough to spread it in the lasagna, but not turn it into a purée. Use a potato masher and don’t overdo it.

Without further ado, the recipe!

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Butternut Squash and Garlicky Kale Lasagna with Brazil Nut Cheese (vegan, can be gluten free with suitable lasagna noodles)

Serves 4-6

2 lbs butternut squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil, divided (or coconut for the roasting part)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 cup brazil nuts
1 lemon
1 tbsp mellow white miso (substitute 1/2 tsp sea salt)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup water + extra
9 lasagna noodles (I used brown rice noodles, which would be good for my GF readers, but any noodles will be fine)
1 large bunch of curly kale, washed and chopped into manageable pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Mix squash and onions with 1-2 tbsp coconut or olive oil and sea salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400 degrees Farenheit till the squash is browning and very tender (about 35-40 minutes). Mash the squash with a potato masher till it’s smashed up, but not too much: you’re not looking for the texture of mashed potatoes here! You want some texture, but for it to still be easy to spread. As you do this, add the sage and season again, to taste. Lower the oven to 350 and set aside squash.

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2. To make the pumpkin cheese, place your cup of Brazil nuts in a food processor and grind till they’re powdery but not yet turning into nut butter. Add 1 cup pumpkin or butternut squash puree, sea salt, miso, and nutritional yeast, along with 1/4 cup water. Process, adding more water as need be till you have a smooth, spreadable mixture. Set aside.

3. Bring a pot of water to boil and boil the lasagna noodles till tender. This is important! See note above.

4. Finally, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan, along with 2 cloves minced garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Add your kale and sautee, stirring constantly and adding a few tablespoons of water as you go along to keep it moist and tender. When kale is wilted and the garlic is cooked, turn off heat.

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5. To assemble lasagna, spray the bottom of a casserole dish (rectangular) with some coconut or olive oil spray. Lay down a layer of noodles, and top them with a layer of squash and kale. Add another layer of noodles, and another layer of squash and kale. Finally, add one more layer of noodles. Cover the lasagna in foil and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, till everything is warm. Remove from oven, and when it’s a little cooler, spread your Brazil nut cheese (if using) over the top layer). Cut and serve!

It should smell fantastic as it bakes. This recipe includes more garlic than is my norm (I’m not a big fan), but it really works here, and I don’t find it overwhelming. I do find it deliciously fragrant, though.

The finished product:

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This lasagna is so tasty! A perfect marriage of everything autumn.

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To go along with it, Anne and I whipped up a salad of a few of our favorite things: roasted beets, lentils, arugula and radicchio, and what is now our standard vinaigrette for get-togethers: balsamic, lemon, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, pepper. It was a killer salad, if I do say so myself. I topped it all off with some fragrant and lovely toasted hazelnuts:

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Something about salad preparation always makes me smile:

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Look at that abundant bowl of green!

As usual, it was wonderful to catch up with Anne, whose wedding I recently missed, sadly, because of a death in my family. She and I are both so ready to be freed from the yoke of school (even if my freedom is very temporary) and enjoy more adventures together in D.C.!

For some of our previous ingredient potlucks, check out our

Can’t wait for the next healthy and tasty collaboration!

Before I go, I wanted to mention that my friend Carrie has just created an app called Vegan Delish. It’s designed for new and veteran vegans and vegetarians, plus those wanting to explore the benefits of a plant-based diet. It features innovative tools such as a digital shopping list and searchable categories including gluten-free, quick & easy, and kid-friendly. It inspires users to make whole food, plant-based meals that are as delicious as they are nutritious.

For the introductory price of only $1.99, users of Vegan Delish receive 50 recipes including California Kale Salad, Easiest Slow-Cooker Applesauce, Pumpkin Spice Muffins and Butternut Harvest Stew. Plus, once the app is purchased, access is included to all of the new recipes that are added monthly.

Each recipe features step-by-step instructions to transform simple ingredients into flavorful, health-promoting meals that everyone will enjoy.

I’m really excited to get the complimentary download that Carrie—who has just bravely battled a diagnosis of thyroid cancer and written about her extraordinary healing process on her blog—has generously offered me. And I am offering you, my readers, five free downloads. The first five folks who comment on this post will receive Vegan Delish for free, so don’t wait! Chime in now, and I’ll connect you with Carrie. Please note that the app is only for Apple handheld devices in the US and Canadian markets.

Have a lovely day, all!

xo

Categories: Dinner, Dressings

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    51 Comments
  1. This looks amazing. I’m gonna make it. Could you clarify the cutting the squash into 1-2 inch pieces? I usually cut a squash in half and then roast it so am having trouble picturing your strategy. Also, do I cook the onions or mix them up w the squash raw? Thanks a lot. I’m a huge fan of you and your recipes.

    • Thanks so much, Nicky! The idea is to cut the squash into cubes prior to roasting, and I’d go with closer to 1-inch. And yes, you mix the raw, roughly chopped onion up with the squash, then you roast it all together. Thanks for prompting some corrections to the recipe and let me know if you have more questions 🙂

  2. […] Brazil Nut Cheese Gena states clearly that for this recipe you don’t need any vegan ricotta or melted vegan cheese. However, she created a Brazil nut and pumpkin cheese to spread on top of the lasagna. For this recipe you’ll need butternut squash, yellow onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, rubbed sage, brazil nuts, lemon, nutritional yeast, pumpkin puree, water, lasagna noodles, kale and garlic. visit thefullhelping.com to get detailed info. […]

  3. I made the lasagna tonight… so creamy and satisfying. I ran out of brazil nuts so my “cheese” was made of equal parts cashews and brazil nuts (which gave it an more orange appearance). I ended up having to roast the squash and onions for over an hour and the entire lasagna for about 35 minutes though. Yum yum, this will be a great meal to revisit or share with my more adventurous coworkers the rest of the week. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I will definitely be making it again.

  4. just finished assembling this and am warming it in the oven..Smells incredible!!! Made your pumpkin chocolate raw brownies last week. I am hooked on your recipes!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  5. Mmm, two great tastes that taste great together. The Italian in me isn’t sure how I feel about a no sauce lasagna, but the butternut squash lover in me is saying yum!

  6. There is enough reasonable concern over aluminum toxicity that it seems safer NOT to use foil or certainly aluminum pots…I would be interested to see what you and Anne think if you researched it well. Also concerned about microwave use, plastics and diet/artificial sweeteners. It would be great to have reliable information on the potential or actual harm that surely isn’t worth the risk?

  7. Amazon.com sells tinkyada products, discounted with free shipping over $25! Also Pamela’s baking and pancake mix and Hansen’s natural cola…FYI.

  8. Tinkyada brown rice pasta is so good and good for us! And easily digestible. Last night I just made shell salad with tinkyada shell pasta, can of chunk light tuna, chopped green olives and peas (I used LeSeure canned but cooked frozen peas would be fine) with vegenaise to taste…the sweetness of the peas with the olives is a nice combination.

  9. Yum! This looks so good. And it inspired my cooking last night. I had a carnival squash that I had been enjoying looking at for a long time and finally got around to baking last night. Used it to make a squash cashew cheese that I’m having today with polenta and some sprouted pumpkin seeds, on a bed of spinach. I’m excited for lunch!

  10. Gena-
    Do you think I could sub a combo of cashews and hazelnuts instead of brazil nuts? (dying to make this ASAP-with probably triple the garlic :-)- but husband is allergic to brazil nuts).

  11. Gena, I think we’re living parallel food lives this week. I was munching on a big slaw salad when you posted your slaw recipe and planning to make butternut squash lasagna right when this went live. And now I know what my recipe will be! Were you also inspired by the new brown rice lasagna noodles and Whole Foods?

    xo

    • Nope! The good old Tinkyada brand (I love them — SO MUCH BETTER than whole wheat pasta).

      Hilarious we were in sync 🙂

      • They actually just started carrying Tinkyada lasagne noodles at the P St Whole Foods — unless I’ve missed it every other time! I was so excited I decided to make butternut squash lasagne right then 🙂

  12. This lasagna sounds like a winner…the more garlic in the recipe the better if you ask me! 🙂

  13. This looks amazing! I’ve been putting together a thanksgiving menu to help celebrate my mothers first vegan thanksgiving! Might give this a try!

    thanks for everything!

  14. I don’t know why, but for some reason this recipe makes me smile. I am so looking forward to making this for my family! Thanks for always being so lovely and inventive 🙂

  15. yum! nut cheez has become a regular in my place since i don’t tolerate dairy! i’ve only been reading anne for the last 6 mos and my heart goes out to her right now during this difficult time.

    • So glad you found Anne’s blog! She is without a doubt one of the kindest, most generous, and most exceptionally cool people I know.