Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna with Kale is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. In this dish, thinly sliced butternut squash and steamed kale are layered with tofu ricotta and a creamy cauliflower sauce. This white lasagna style casserole is perfect for Sunday night dinner, and it’s a great dish to serve on Thanksgiving or Christmas. It reheats really well, so you can cook it over the weekend and enjoy it throughout the week. This recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free.
A month or two ago, I came across a recipe for butternut squash and kale casserole. It looked good, and I thought it would be fun to veganize it. When it came time to make it, though, I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t remember if I saw it in a magazine or online, and I didn’t have it saved in my recipe file. (Yes, I have a recipe file!)
While thinking about how to create a butternut squash casserole, I had lasagna on my mind. I recently made a white lasagna using a cashew alfredo sauce, but I wasn’t very happy with the way it turned out, so I wanted to work on it a little more. (White lasagna is made with a creamy white sauce, rather than a tomato-based sauce.) The noodles soaked up the cashew sauce, and the sauce kind of hardened when I tried to reheat it. Would a cauliflower-based sauce work? I needed to give it a try, and somewhere along the line, I decided to combine the butternut squash casserole with the lasagna recipe.
In this recipe, I’ve used thinly butternut squash in the place of traditional noodles. Tofu is whipped up to make a ricotta-style cheese. And cauliflower is boiled and blended to make a creamy sauce. I’ve sandwiched steamed kale between the layers.
When buying butternut squash, look for one with a long neck, as it’s going to be your “noodles.” I used Lacinato or Tuscan kale here, but any type of kale will work. You can top your lasagna with a little shredded vegan mozzarella, if you like. I like to use Violife mozzarella.
This recipe may look a little daunting, but I promise you it’s easy to make. You just need to make sure you have a little time to prepare all of the components.
- First, you need get the sauce going. You need to cook the chopped cauliflower in water for about 15 minutes to soften it. Then you blend it together with 1 cup of the cooking water and the rest of the sauce ingredients.
- Next, you mix together the ricotta ingredients in your food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can place all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or a large fork. I like to make the ricotta while the cauliflower is boiling.
- Next, you steam the kale. I use a steamer basket in a big pot. If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can boil it for a few minutes in a large pot of water until it softens.
- While the kale is steaming, you slice the butternut squash. This is probably the trickiest part of the recipe. To get your squash ready, you need to cut the neck away from the base, and then peel it with a vegetable peeler. You then need to slice the neck into thin slices, about ¼ inch thick. I use a mandoline slicer to do this. If you don’t have one, you can use the slicing blade of your food processor or a spiralizer. You can also use a very sharp knife, but it’s a little trickier to get thin slices. You’ll need about 36 slices.
Assembling the Lasagna
- To assemble the lasagna, you spread about a quarter of the sauce into the bottom of a lasagna pan.
- Then layer on the squash on top of the sauce. It’s okay if the pieces overlap a little.
- Next, spread on half the tofu ricotta and half of the steamed kale. Pour on another layer of sauce. Repeat this with a second layer.
- Top your lasagna with another layer of squash and another layer of sauce. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for half an hour.
- Remove the foil and bake the lasagna for another 15 minutes. If you’re going to top it with vegan mozzarella, add it once you remove the foil.
Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna with Kale
For the Ricotta
- 14- ounce package of firm tofu pressed and drained
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the Sauce
- 1 large head cauliflower coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Lasagna
- 1 large butternut squash peeled (look for one with a long neck)
- 1 large bunch Lacinato (Tuscan) kale, stems removed, chopped
- ½ cup shredded vegan mozzarella optional
- Preheat your oven to 400° and have a 9x13-inch casserole dish ready.
Make the Ricotta
- Blend the tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, basil, and salt in a food processor. Process for about 2 or 3 minutes, until the mixture is thick and looks like ricotta cheese.
Make the Sauce
- Place the cauliflower in a large pot. Fill it with enough water to cover the vegetables plus about two inches.
- Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.
- Drain the cauliflower, reserving the cooking water. Allow it to cool slightly and then place the cauliflower in a high-speed blender or food processor along with 2 cups of the reserved cooking water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper and blend until smooth and creamy.
Make the Lasagna
- Carefully cut the neck from the base of butternut squash. Use a mandoline slicer, food processor, spiralizer, or sharp knife to stick the neck into thin rounds, about 1/4-inch thick. You’ll need about 36 slices
- Using a steamer basket in a pot of shallow water or an electric steamer, steam the kale for about 5 minutes, until bright green and just wilted.
- To assemble the lasagna, layer 1/3 of the squash slices on the bottom of the casserole dish. It’s okay if they overlap a little. Layer on half of the steamed kale, followed by half of the tofu ricotta. Top with 1/3 of the sauce.
- Create another layer with another 1/3 of the squash slices, the rest of the steamed kale, the rest of the tofu ricotta, and another 1/3 of the sauce. Top with the remaining squash and the rest of the sauce.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil, and sprinkle on the vegan mozzarella, if using. Bake, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is hot and bubbly.