Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, but for whatever reason—you’re a vegetarian, your guests are vegetarians, you don’t like turkey, or you don’t like weeks of turkey-themed leftovers—want to skip the bird?
Look no further. This lasagna capitalizes on big fall flavors: butternut squash, caramelized onions, and sage. It’s hearty: noodles and squash means enough starch that nobody walks away hungry. It’s beautiful: that burnt orange dotted with green baked sage leaves looks impressive and celebratory.
Or are you just looking for a Sunday project that will feed you with something healthy yet hearty for the whole week?
This works for that, too. It serves eight generously, which means a week of leftovers for one or a few days for two. It freezes well. And though it is hearty, the lack of meat or cheese means it’s not heavy—that you can eat it a few nights in a row and not feel lethargic by the end of the week.
A note on the lack of meat and cheese: I am not a vegan. I am usually skeptical of tofu. And yet the tofu “ricotta” in this recipe was so good that I licked the food processor clean. (See the finger dipping marks in the picture, above.) It’s rich with the garlic oil, herby with the sage, and given a bit of zing by the vinegar. That said, if you want to try making this with regular ricotta: go for it, and report back!
Note: this takes about four hours to make–definitely a weekend project or a celebration meal. But that’s what weekends and holidays are for, right?
Butternut squash lasagna with sage, caramelized onions, and tofu ricotta (serves 8 generously)
Adapted from Amy Chaplin’s At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen
2 medium-large butternut squash (abut 7 pounds)
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing squash
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
10 garlic cloves, sliced
2 15-oz blocks plain, firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped sage, plus 8 whole leaves to garnish
2 packages no-boil whole-wheat lasagna noodles (you will have a few noodle strips leftover)
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Cut off the neck of the squash, then cut the neck and the bottom in half lengthwise. Rub cut sides with olive oil and place cut-side down on the tray. Roast for 50 minutes or until you can pierce easily with a knife. Remove from oven.
Once cool enough to handle, scoop out and discard the seeds and peel off and discard the skin. Add the squash to a food processor with salt and pepper. Blend until completely smooth, place in bowl, set aside. Rinse out food processor.
Warm oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions. Sauté for ten minutes or until beginning to brown. Add salt, lower heat slightly, and continue cooking for 15 minutes until the onions are soft and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside half for layering in the lasagna. Put the other half in the food processor.
Warm olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add garlic, reduce heat a little, and simmer until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Crumble tofu in food processor with onions and add vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic-oil mixture. Blend until smooth. Add chopped sage and blend until incorporated. Set aside 1/2 cup for garnishing top of lasagna.
Assemble the lasagna
Preheat oven to 375F.
Brush a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with olive oil. Spread 3/4 cup squash purée (or enough to cover the bottom of the dish completely) over bottom of dish and top with a single layer of noodles. Spread 1 1/2 cups squash purée over noodles, then top with half of the tofu ricotta. Repeat with another layer of noodles and another 1 1/2 cups squash purée. Spread caramelized onions over squash and top with a final layer of noodles. Cover with remaining tofu ricotta, and top with remaining squash purée. Spoon 8 dots of reserved tofu ricotta evenly over the top, press a sage leaf into each one, and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Cover with parchment paper then foil; bake for 50 minutes or until noodles are tender and lasagna is heated through. To test, insert a knife into the center; you shouldn’t feel any resistance. If noodles are still firm, continue cooking covered for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove cover, and bake 10 minutes more or until top layer of squash looks set (it will crack in a really pretty way, as you can see in the photo). Remove from oven and allow to sit at least ten minutes before cutting.
Make ahead: you can assemble the whole lasagna, place in the fridge overnight, and cook it the next day.
Leftovers: This keeps in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can also let it cool, wrap it carefully in plastic wrap, put that in a freezer-safe glass container, and keep it in your freezer for a couple of months.