Now THIS is the ultimate comfort food. Who doesn’t like lasagna? And who doesn’t like it with creamy butternut squash and tangy goat cheese? Not to mention it’s namesake, Romanesco sauce. Have you heard of it? Also known as “Romesco” sauce, it originates from Spain and is a thick sauce with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and almonds. I first had it at Veggie Planet in Boston on a pizza. It has a sweet-spicy flavor that’s amazing. Mmmm…I could go on and on about how wonderful this lasagna is, but I better just give you the recipe. I’ve been perfecting it for weeks (we’ve had lasagna 3 times in the past month). It’s a bit involved, but definitely worth it.
Ingredients for Romanesco Sauce
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and seeded*
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, or 4 small vine tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Ingredients for Lasagna
Whole wheat lasagna pasta
1 batch Romanesco sauce (recipe above)
1 bunch collard greens
1 large butternut squash
1 head cauliflower
1 large log goat cheese (about 1 cup, packed — Trader Joe’s has a great price on goat cheese)
1-2 cups plain, low-fat yogurt
1) Roast butternut squash. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds and pulp. Place cut-side-up onto an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool for a bit and then peel or cut the skin off. Cut the squash into small, flat pieces. (This step can be done a couple days ahead, if necessary.)
2) Roast cauliflower. Rinse and chop cauliflower into small, flat pieces. Place onto an oiled baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Feel free to put in the oven at the same time as the butternut squash, but try not to block the heat if you put it on the bottom rack. (This step can be done a couple days ahead, if necessary.)
3) Make Romanesco sauce. Toast raw slivered almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (I usually do this step in the toaster oven, since the squash and the cauliflower are in the regular oven. You can also toast them in a dry pan over medium heat). Monitor them closely so they don’t burn. You’ll know they’re done when you start to really smell them. Combine Romanesco ingredients in a blender (with wet ingredients at the bottom), and blend well. Set aside. (This step can be done a couple days ahead, if necessary.)
4) Make pasta. Follow directions for your brand of whole wheat lasagna pasta. Plan this step so that you’re ready to build your lasagna soon after the pasta is done cooking; otherwise, the pasta will stick together and make it difficult to assemble.
5) Steam greens. Rinse and pat dry your collard greens. Chop them into ribbons. Boil about 1 inch of water in a pot and place the greens in a steamer basket on top. Greens will wilt in less than 5 minutes. Test them out to make sure they’re not too crispy or too mushy. Set aside.
6) Build your lasagna. In a rectangular glass casserole dish, spread just a bit of Romanesco sauce and yogurt on the bottom of the dish. Line pasta on top. Drop small mounds of Romanesco sauce and yogurt onto the pasta and spread out with the back of a spoon. Scatter with squash, cauliflower, and greens. Sprinkle with chunks of goat cheese. Repeat with more pasta, sauce, veggies, and cheese until it’s all assembled. Save some sauce and goat cheese to sprinkle on the very top.
7) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Cover loosely with foil toward the end if the top is getting too brown. (This lasagna can been assembled and frozen. To freeze, assemble lasagna and do not bake. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. When ready to bake, let thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. You may need to bake for an extra 15 minutes, since the lasagna will be cold before going into the oven).
*You can also roast your own red peppers. See this previous post to learn how.