Whenever I make lasagna I am reminded of my first years of cooking away from home – in college, in my own place for the first time. I learned about bechamel sauce and it became my favorite thing. I wanted to add bechamel to all the foods.
Then I made my very first lasagna. Back then I thought I was brilliant for using bechamel in place of ricotta or other soft cheese in the filling. I made many lasagna this way, as it was often requested when I hosted dinner parties or offered to bring something to an event.
I have made almost every lasagna with bechamel. Serious comfort food.
This is the first lasagna I have made in a while.
I wanted to bump up the protein without using a faux meat product, so instead of starting my bechamel with the usual butter-flour roux, I blended in cashews. Not only did I get my wanted protein, the result was a creamy sweet rich flavor.
We are in nutmeg week of Meatless Mondays A-Z, and while the nutmeg is a standard ingredient in my bechamel sauces, I also used it here to add warm spice to the butternut squash as it roasted. Wonderful depth of flavor in this dish.
roasted butternut lasagna with crispy sage
inspired by lasagne alla zucca
dairy, egg, soy and gluten free, vegan
makes 9 x 11 pan of lasagna
1 butternut squash
drizzle olive oil
pinch sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
9-10 fresh sage leaves
1 package lasagna noodles (I use these – gluten free)
cashew bechamel sauce (recipe follows)
7 ounces jack cheese, sliced
Prepare cashew bechamel sauce (see recipe below).
Peel, remove seeds/innards, and cut butternut squash into cubes. Arrange in single layer on (parchmented) baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and nutmeg. Arrange sage leaves on same sheet, brush with olive oil. Roast in 300 degree oven – 5 minutes for sage leaves, 30-35 minutes for squash. Remove from oven and cool.
Transfer cooled squash cubes to food processor and purée until smooth.
Assemble lasagna layers: Pour a small amount of bechamel in 9 x 11 baking dish. Add noodles. Spread a layer of squash purée, top with cheese.
Cover with foil (especially important if using no-boil pasta noodles) and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes, to set – you get even slices of lasagna layers this way.
cashew bechamel sauce
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 cups almond milk, divided
4 tablespoons butter (Earth Balance soy free)
4 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
In high speed blender or food processor, process cashews until crumbly. Add 1 cup milk while processing, until a smooth cashew cream forms – this will be much thinner than traditional cashew cream.
In saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to darken in color – a light tan. Continue to stir while adding cashew milk. Mixture will thicken. Whisk in remaining two cups milk, and the salt and nutmeg, remove from heat.
This to me is the epitome of cold weather comfort food. Brightly flavored squash between layers of rich sauce and boldly flavored cheese. The crispy sage adds an earthy flavor perfect for winter foods. We will be enjoying this again soon.
Visit Heather to see what others did with nutmeg:
What is your favorite cold weather comfort food?