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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Autumn Zucchini Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Smoked Cheese

Autumn is here!  Well close enough.  It's still 92 degrees here today, but I don't care.  Summer decorations are down, fall leaves and pumpkins are up, the kids are back in school, and football is on the tv.  It's been a crazy, insanely busy few weeks which is why I haven't posted in awhile.  Everything seems to be settling down though, so I've been eager to get back in the kitchen and start cooking again. 

A few years ago, I had a recipe for butternut squash lasagna by Giada de Laurentiis that I made in the fall.  It was delicious, and the perfect, cozy dinner for cool autumn nights.  But it was made from white flour lasagna noodles and heavy b├ęchamel sauce.  I wanted to take that idea and lighten it up, so this is the result.  I made it considerably healthier by using zucchini squash as the noodles, and a creamy tofu sauce with roasted garlic as the b├ęchamel.  I knew it would need a bit of a kick, so smoked gouda was the perfect answer.  (You could use smoked mozzarella as well.)  I was right, the smoky flavor was the perfect contrast to the sweet, creamy butternut squash.

What I love most about this lightened up version is that it's comforting on early autumn nights without being too heavy.  Plus, the tofu gives it a healthy dose of protein.  And if you haven't tried zucchini in place of noodles before, this is the perfect recipe to start with, you will be pleasantly surprised!


3 zucchini
1 1/2 cups smoked gouda, shredded (or smoked mozzarella)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Tofu white sauce:
1 head of garlic
1 14 oz. box of tofu (silken OR firm)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp basil

Butternut squash puree:
1 1/2 cups pureed butternut squash (recipe below if you're making your own)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp maple syrup

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the top of the garlic bulb, exposing the cloves.  Tear off any loose outer paper of the garlic.    Rub with olive oil, coating it generously, and wrap loosely in foil.  Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the cloves are golden and easily removed by gently squeezing.  Set aside. 
*I usually roast garlic in the morning if I know I need it for a recipe that night.  That way it's done and you don't have to wait for it. 

2.  Prepare the butternut squash puree.  If using a store bought puree, pour 1 1/2 cups into a bowl, stir in salt, chili powder, and maple syrup, and set aside. 
*Williams-Sonoma makes a fabulous butternut squash puree that will save you time!

The puree can be made at home from either fresh or frozen butternut squash. 
For frozen:
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place the bag of diced butternut squash onto the baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and chili powder.  Use your hands to toss and evenly coat.  Bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on if your squash was defrosted or frozen), until tender and soft. 
For fresh:
Slice the skin off the butternut squash.  Cut in half lengthwise.  For an average sized squash, half will do for this recipe.  (Slice and freeze the remaining half for a future recipe, or puree the entire squash and freeze the remaining puree.)  Slice into strips, about 1/2 in thick.  Place on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and chili powder.   Toss to coat, and spread the slices out evenly so they are not overlapping.  Bake for 40 minutes.
3.  Prepare the zucchini.  Rinse and place on a large cutting board.  Trim the top and bottom off.  Slice in half lengthwise as they will be easier to work with.  Starting on the edge, slice into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.  I use the tip of my knife to pierce the zucchini halfway, and then drag the tip through to both ends as this keeps the slices uniform.  You can also trim off the edges off before you start so you don't end up with a piece that is all peel. 
Lay the zucchini slices on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.  Sprinkle both sides lightly with salt.  This will help draw out the moisture from the zucchini and prevent the lasagna from becoming soggy.  Allow to drain on the towel while you prepare the sauce and puree.  
4.  To a high powered blender or food processor, add the drained tofu, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, basil, roasted garlic cloves, and pinch of nutmeg.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a separate container and lightly rinse the blender of food processor.
5.  Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Add the squash to the blender or food processor, along with the vegetable broth and maple syrup.  Blend until smooth.  Scrape puree into a small bowl. 
6.  Decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Prepare a 9x13 pan  by brushing with olive oil.    Spoon 1/2 cup of the tofu white sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Layer with zucchini noodles.  Top with half of the butternut squash puree, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of each cheese.  Repeat one time with 1/2 of the remaining tofu sauce, zucchini noodles, the remaining half of the butternut squash puree, and another 1/2 cup of each cheese.  (Use a spoon to evenly spread the sauce and puree over the noodles.)  Top with the remaining tofu white sauce, and 1/2 cup smoked gouda.  Sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil, reduce oven temp to 350 degrees, and cook for 15 more minutes, until the top is bubbly and beginning to brown.  Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.  


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