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Monday, January 7, 2013

Almost Vegan Acorn Squash Lasagna

So it's been a while since I updated, but it doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. Instead since I left grad school—I got a job and have been working so much, that on my off time, I don't want to write.

But I've recently rekindled my relationship with blogging and also hope to expand this blog beyond the boundaries of solely Indian cuisine.

One thing that is common for first-generation Indian children is that their parents and grandparents are not as open to different cuisines. In my case my grandmother and my maternal uncle are not so open to eating Italian food. My grandmother thinks marinara sauce is to tart and my uncle favors eating Indian, Chinese and other foods of Asian decent. Although my mom loves Italian food, she's vegetarian, so often when she eats it, the meal is full of carbs and dairy rather than protein. This recipe is sweet and hearty with a hint of spice. It's not tart at all.

A couple of things inspired this Almost Vegan Acorn Squash Lasagna:

1. On Trisha Yearwood's (yes, the country singer) new Food Network cooking show, she and Garth Brooks (yes another country singer) made Black Bean Lasagna using a faux ricotta made with tofu. Using tofu instead of ricotta really cuts down on the fat in lasagna.

2. My mom recently went to a work lunch at a fancy country club where she dined on butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce. I might be great in the kitchen by ravioli is pretty intense to make and I figured a squash lasagna would really mimic the flavor without the work.

Take note: it's almost vegan because I used one egg and parmesan. You could make it without the egg, use egg-free lasagna, and substitute the real parmesan for a vegan version. I also will be using whole wheat lasagna next time I make it, but I had to regular boxes on me and I like to use what I have.

Almost Vegan Acorn Squash Lasagna
Serves 4-5, Prep Time: 1 hour, Cook time: 50 minutes.


  • 2 cups of faux ricotta (make it the day of) recipe below)
  • 2 cups of marinara (store bought is fine - I used Trader Joe's organic)
  • 1 cup of Parmesan
  • 1/8 of Italian breadcrumbs
  • 12 pieces of lasagna (you can make extra just in case and use the leftovers later)
  • 1 acorn squash, roasted with spices (can be made ahead of time, recipe below)
  • 1 large onion, caramelized


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Place a 1/3 of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the lasagna pan to help prevent the noodles from sticking.
  3. Add one layer of lasagna (4 slices overlapping) on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Layer a 1/3 of the marinara sauce to the noodles and spread out across the pan, covering all the noodles. 
  5. Add 1/2 of the acorn squash over the noodles and spread out across the pan again, covering the sauce. (A trick: wet the back of the spoon, helps with sticking)
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 of the caramelized onions over the squash
  7. Add 1/2 of faux ricotta over the onions and squash
  8. Repeat the layers once more, but don't use the tomato sauce (reserve for top layer). 
  9. Place the last layer of lasagna noodles in the pan. 
  10. Add the remaining 1/3 of the tomato sauce onto the noodles.
  11. Mix the Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top.
  12. Cover with foil (Trick: spray foil with cooking spray to prevent sticking).
  13. Bake for 40 minutes. 
  14. Remove foil. Bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbling. 

Roasted Acorn Squash:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/8 cup of olive oil 
  • 1 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
Split the acorn squash in half—lengthwise. Remove the stem and slice the bottom of the squash so it's flat. Drizzle olive oil over the squash and sprinkle all of the spices over the squash. Roast the squash at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Once roasted scoop out the pulp and let cool. Store in refrigerator if making ahead of time. Makes 2 cups

Faux Ricotta

  • 1 container of tofu (I used light silken, but you can use firm or extra firm)
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts or cashews (toasted)
  • 10 leaves of basil
  • 1 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp. of lemon juice

A few hours or even overnight, wrap the tofu in a couple of layers of paper towel and place in a colander in a bowl with a weight over it so all the liquid drains. Once drained: place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until everything is mixed together and consistency is similar to ricotta. Set aside. Makes 2 cups.