Savory Fall Lasagna with Spinach and Cashew Ricotta (Vegan and Gluten Free)

It’s officially Fall, and it’s time to bring out the warm, savoury dishes! Lasagna is one of the most classic comfort dishes, and can be altered in so many different ways to create completely new versions. That is exactly what my goal was with this recipe! After buying the world’s most massive butternut squash, I began to brainstorm recipe ideas that I could incorporate it into. I was craving a savoury, comforting fall dish, and lasagna came to my mind right away.

I used to LOVE lasagna when I was a kid – my mom made the best! But I hadn’t attempted to replicate it since being vegan, and I hadn’t really explored plant-based lasagna much at all. So I thought it would be a perfect challenge to create a completely different version of one of my old favourites! I left the tomato sauce behind and instead went for a savoury fall-inspired pumpkin and butternut squash sauce. The star of the show for me has to be the cashew ricotta layer – it’s perfectly rich and creamy, and just the right amount of tangy, mixed in with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and spinach.

This lasagna is the perfect main dish for fall! Add it to your Thanksgiving or fall-inspired dinner party menu and you will definitely impress your guests! It’s savoury and soul-warming, and is most definitely worth all of the work that goes into it. And for a pasta dish, it’s honestly pretty healthy! Hearty gluten free pasta, vitamin and mineral-rich pumpkin and butternut squash, and a ton of greens snuck into the cashew ricotta, which also happens to be packed with healthy fats. Basically a guilt-free indulgence if you ask me!

I want to note that the cashew ricotta recipe I used in this dish is by Erin Ireland – you can find it along with a ton of other delicious plant based recipes and cooking inspo on her Instagram highlights!

Notes:
  • Be sure to soak your cashews before blending for the creamiest texture. If you don’t have time or forget to soak them overnight, soak them for at least 30 minutes in hot water.
  • Kale also works great in this recipe instead of spinach! You can also do a mix of both! Remember that greens cook down a LOT, so don’t be afraid when it looks like you’re putting an insane amount into your pan!
  • Adjust the cashew ricotta ingredients to your preference! If you want it extra salty or tangy, don’t be afraid to add more salt or lemon juice.
  • To make this recipe oil free, you can cook your veggies using water, and omit the olive oil in the cashew ricotta.
  • Roasting the butternut squash will enhance its flavour, but if you wish to save some time as I did, cooking it in a pot of water will do the trick!
  • If you’re looking for a quick and easy vegan cashew parmesan recipe for topping this lasagna, here is a super simple one! Blend these in a food processor and adjust ingredients to your preference!
    • ½ cup raw cashews
    • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
    • ¼ tsp garlic powder
    • ½ tsp salt

Savory Fall Lasagna with Spinach and Cashew Ricotta (Vegan and Gluten Free)

vegan  • gluten free  •  dairy free  •  soy free option  •  oil free option 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 45-60 minutes

Bake time: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 box of gluten free lasagna noodles (approx 250-350 grams)
  • 1 cup dairy free shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Daiya)
  • Optional: vegan parmesan cheese and fresh herbs for garnishing
Ricotta and Spinach Filling
  • Cashew ricotta:
    • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
    • ½ cup water
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6-7 cups loosely chopped spinach
  • 3-4 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
Pumpkin Butternut Squash Sauce
  • 1½ cups pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cubed (approx. 1-inch cubes)
  • ½ tsp ground sage
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened soy milk (or any unsweetened non-dairy milk)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. Cube your butternut squash and cook in a pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until very tender.
  2. While the squash is cooking, make your cashew ricotta. Place soaked cashews, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and water in a blender or food processor, and blend on high for about a minute, until very creamy and airy. Set aside for later.
  3. Cook your vegetables. In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil and add in your diced onion and minced garlic, sautéing until onions are translucent. Add in mushrooms, and cover. Cook over medium until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to cook down. Add in spinach and cover again, cooking for a few minutes until it begins to wilt.
  4. Pour cashew ricotta into the pan of cooked vegetables, mixing together. Turn heat to low and cover for about 5 minutes. Stir and keep covered after turning off heat.
  5. Make the pumpkin and butternut squash sauce. Place the cooked butternut squash in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add in pumpkin purée, ground sage, oregano, soy milk, and salt and pepper, and blend until creamy. Adjust spices to fit your preference!
  6. In a large pot, cook lasagna noodles until al dende. If they do not fit in your pot, place one end of the noodles in the water and slowly push the rest in as the cooking ends become soft. Be careful not to over cook noodles, as they may fall apart while assembling (especially if you are using gluten free noodles!) Strain and set aside for assembly. If you are worried about them over cooking, run them under cold water to stop them from continuing to soften.
  7. Assemble the lasagna! Preheat oven to 375° and lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking oil. Divide the pumpkin and butternut squash into two portions, and spread the first half in the bottom of the pan. Next add a layer of noodles – you should fit three noodles in each layer! Divide the Ricotta and spinach filling into two portions, and spread half of it on top of the noodles. Next, add another layer of noodles, followed by the rest of the pumpkin and butternut squash sauce, a third layer of noodles, and the rest of the ricotta spinach filling.
  8. As a final layer, cover the top layer of ricotta and spinach filling with shredded dairy free mozzarella cheese.
  9. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. (PRO TIP: If you want to create less waste, you can use a cookie sheet to cover your dish by simply placing it on top instead of using foil!) Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes. I like to switch it to a low broil for the last few minutes to give the top layer of mozzarella a little more melting and browning!
  10. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with vegan parmesan and herbs if desired!

Enjoy!

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