For most people who know me, this was a strange dish for me to make! I grew up hating lasagna. Something about ricotta cheese always grossed me out. Therefore, I have never made a lasagna in my life. It finally hit me recently that since I'm vegan I have a great excuse for leaving out the ricotta, and could substitute so many other delicious ingredients instead! And since I seem to be putting squash in everything nowadays, it made sense to squeeze it in here too. Final verdict: I finally found a lasagna I love! I could not believe it, this lasagna takes the cake in my opinion. The combination of a savory roasted tomato basil sauce and sweet butternut squash really got my taste buds going. So much that I ate a third of the dish, A THIRD. I felt like a huge piece of lasagna for the rest of the day, but I didn't care, cause I finally found a lasagna I like and will definitely be making this again!
I used gluten free organic brown rice noodles in this recipe, but if you are not gluten free you can use whichever noodles you'd like.
1 box of organic brown rice lasagna noodles (I found mine at Whole Foods)
1 cup Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds
1 butternut squash
6 roma tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 sweet onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried thyme, or fresh if you have it
3 teaspoons sea salt, divided
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
Begin by preheating your oven to 375 F.
For the butternut squash: cut off the ends, slice in half, remove seeds, peal, and dice into cubes. Place cubed squash into a 9x13 inch non-stick baking pan (optional: toss with a tablespoon of olive oil). Place on the center rack in your oven to roast for 40-45 minutes.
For the tomatoes: In another baking pan, place your Roma tomatoes after slicing them all in half with their cut side facing up. Place this pan on the rack below the squash. Roast the tomatoes and squash together until the squash is tender enough to easily stick with a fork. Like I said above, it should take about 40-45 minutes.
While the squash and tomatoes are roasting, prepare the rest of your ingredients. For the spinach, rinse, dry, and chop. Set aside. For the onions and garlic, mince and sauté for a few minutes in a pan on medium heat until onions are translucent. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Boil and cook your lasagna noodles according to the package's directions to "al dente". Drain and set aside.
By the time you finish this prep work your squash and tomatoes should be ready! Remove both pans from the oven, and leave the oven at 375 F to bake your lasagna at once it is assembled.
Now, in your food processor (or large high speed blender) combine your roasted tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt, and half of the sautéed onion and garlic mixture. Transfer to a bowl and rinse the food processor bowl and blade. Now add the roasted squash to the food processor bowl along with the rest of the sautéed onion and garlic, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, and fresh thyme. Blend until smooth.
Now to assemble the lasagna! Begin by spreading a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce mixture onto the bottom of a 8x8 non-stick baking pan. Create a layer with your lasagna noodles. Then spoon on half the butternut squash mixture, followed by a 1/3 of the tomato sauce, then half of the chopped spinach, and a handful of Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds. Repeat this layer once more. Then top with a third layer of noodles, the last third of the tomato sauce, and a sprinkle of Daiya cheese. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool/set for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.