Mushroom & Butternut Squash Lasagna

 Mushroom & Butternut Squash Lasagna

Who doesn't love a good lasagna? With hearty marinara sauce, bubbling cheese, and crispy bits on the top, it's the perfect comfort food. So what do you do when you're vegan? You still make a lasagna, damnit!

Being vegan doesn't mean depriving yourself of delicious food. And even if you're not vegan, I guarantee you'll like this lasagna because it's tastes like classic Italian comfort food. The main components of this dish are (1) marinara sauce, (2) tofu "ricotta" cheese, (3) mashed butternut squash, (4) sautéed mushrooms and shallots, and lasagna noodles. But you can easily customize this recipe to make it your own. Try adding sautéed kale or frozen, thawed spinach to get in those greens; substitute eggplant for mushrooms; or substitute the marinara sauce with pesto.

Finally, this dish is as easy to make as any lasagna. Don't let the "tofu ricotta" trick you into thinking this is hard. It requires no cooking and takes 5 minutes to make! Bon Appétit!

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Mushroom and Butternut Squash Lasagna

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce (I use this brand)
  • 1 9-ounce package of no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles (can substitute gluten-free noodles)
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter or coconut oil at room temperature
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 5-6 shallots, chopped
  • 1 pound of shiitake mushrooms or mushrooms of choice, sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10-15 thyme sprigs
  • Large handful of fresh sage leaves
  • Olive oil for cooking vegetables and greasing pan
  • Tofu Ricotta Cheese (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan parmesan cheese (optional, I use this brand)
  • A few fresh basil leaves or parsley, sliced thinly or minced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Meanwhile, make the butternut squash. Simply slice the squash in half, vertically. Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Lightly brush the flesh of each half with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the flesh is fork-tender and soft.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
  4. While the squash is cooling, make the mushroom and shallot mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and the thyme sprigs, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 7-9 minutes until browned, and discard the thyme sprigs.
  5. In the same skillet, head 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add 6-8 sage leaves at a time, and fry for 5 seconds on each side. Drain on a paper towel, and repeat with remaining leaves.
  6. Once the butternut squash is cool, remove the skin. If it is tender, the skin should be easy to take off. Put cooked squash in a bowl. Add vegan butter (or coconut oil) and salt & pepper to taste. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash the squash, as you would for mashed potatoes.
  7. To assemble the lasagna: Lightly oil the bottom of a 13x9 baking pan. Pour about 1 cup of marinara sauce onto the bottom of the pan. Top with 4 no-boil lasagna noodles. Spread noodles with butternut squash mash, top with mushroom and onion mixture, scatter a few crispy sage leaves, add a layer of tofu ricotta and spread it out, and finally top with a layer of marinara sauce. Repeat the layers, ending with marinara sauce.
  8. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and top with 2 additional tablespoons of vegan parmesan cheese, if desired.  Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
  9. Top with fresh basil or parsley leaves.

Tofu Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 14-ounce container of extra-firm tofu

  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 10-15 basil leaves
  • 1 lemon (half of the zest and all of the juice)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

1. Place tofu on a cutting board or plate and slice into chunks. Cover with a few paper towels. Place a heavy can of beans or several books on top of the tofu to press out the excess water. Do this for 30 minutes or so.

2. Crumble the pressed tofu into large chunks and put in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until you have a creamy texture like ricotta cheese. Taste for salt, acidity, and cheesiness, adding more salt, lemon juice, or nutritional yeast, respectively, as needed.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. For the tofu, place unwrapped tofu on a cutting board or plate. Wrap with a few paper towels. Place a heavy can of beans or several books on top of the tofu to press out the excess water. Do this for 30 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, make the butternut squash. Simply slice the squash in half, vertically. Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Lightly brush the flesh of each half with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the flesh is fork-tender and soft.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
  5. While the squash is cooling, make the mushroom and shallot mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and the thyme sprigs, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 7-9 minutes until browned, and discard the thyme sprigs.
  6. In the same skillet, head 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add 6-8 sage leaves at a time, and fry for 5 seconds on each side. Drain on a paper towel, and repeat with remaining leaves.
  7. Once the butternut squash is cool, remove the skin. If it is tender, the skin should be easy to take off. Put cooked squash in a bowl. Add vegan butter (or coconut oil) and salt & pepper to taste. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash the squash, as you would for mashed potatoes.
  8. To make the tofu ricotta: crumble the pressed tofu into large chunks and put in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until you have a creamy texture like ricotta cheese. Taste for salt, acidity, and cheesiness, adding more salt, lemon juice, or nutritional yeast, respectively, as needed.
  9. To assemble the lasagna: Lightly oil the bottom of a 13x9 baking pan. Pour about 1 cup of marinara sauce onto the bottom of the pan. Top with 4 no-boil lasagna noodles. Spread noodles with butternut squash mash, top with mushroom and onion mixture, scatter a few crispy sage leaves, add a layer of tofu ricotta and spread it out, and finally top with a layer of marinara sauce. Repeat the layers, ending with marinara sauce.
  10. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and top with 2 additional tablespoons of vegan parmesan cheese, if desired.  Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
  11. Top with fresh basil or parsley leaves.