Here in the midwest we have experienced an exceptionally warm start to fall. The 80 degree weather that graced us in September and October didn’t exactly put us into fall mode. Typically, during this time of year, it should be all pumpkins, squash, cider mills and sweaters. Instead, we were mowing lawns, extending the pool season and taking our boats out onto the lakes. It was remarkable.
Finally, Fall has arrived. It actually snowed a little this morning so now I’m getting into serious baking mode. This week I resurrected one of my favorite fall dishes: Acorn Squash Lasagna. This is a dish that was inspired by a recipe that was given to me as a wedding shower gift waaaay back in 2010 by one of my favorite people, Cheryl Meron. She is an amazing cook and when she gave me a recipe book of her own kitchen creations – lets just say there is no greater gift.
You may customize this recipe to fit your dietary needs – this one is Gluten Free, and can be vegan or non-vegan depending on the cheese that you choose to use. So here it goes:
Acorn Squash Lasagna
1 whole acorn squash – split and seeded
2 TB Flavors of India (Tastefully Simple) OR Cinnamon, curry, salt, pepper, garlic & any combination of the following that is available to you: CORIANDER. CURRY LEAVES. MUSTARD SEEDS. GARAM MASALA. TURMERIC. TAMARIND.
1 – 2 TB of light Brown sugar (for baking) + 1 TB for post-mix.
1 medium yellow onion
2-3 cups chopped mushroom mix of choice (I prefer oyster, crimini & white)
2 cups Fresh baby spinach (not cooked)
2 cups Tomato Sauce (prepared)
1 cup of cheese (shredded mozzarella (dairy) or daiya shreds (vegan))
1 box of meullers GF no-boil lasagna noodles (you may also substitute for long zucchini slices to make vegan)
Prepare acorn squash:
Fill a medium sized baking dish 1/2 way with water | whisk in spices + brown sugar | place prepared acorn squash (split side down) into the water/spice mix. Bake on 375 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes until you can easily pierce through the rhind with a fork.
Remove from oven, let cool for 15 minutes and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the layers:
Sautee onions in olive oil until slightly browned – add salt & pepper to taste.
Sautee mushroom mix in olive oil – add salt & pepper to taste.
Mash acorn squash – add salt/pepper/1 TB brown sugar – mix well
Prepare tomato sauce by heating it and seasoning it with basil, oregano, garlic salt and what ever else you have to make it tasty! if you are interested in creating a scratch tomato sauce recipe, please see how to make my famous tomato sauce here. (see #3) Otherwise any store bought italian seasoned tomato sauce will do just fine.
Use a medium sized baking dish – start layering in this order:
GF lasagna noodles or long zucchini slices – “Noodles”
Sauteed mushrooms & onions
Spread Acorn Squash mixture
Pour in prepared sauce + top with fresh spinach
Sprinkle cheese to finish the dish
Bake for 20 -25 minutes on 350 degrees
NOTE: Cut into the lasagna before pulling it out of the oven to ensure that the ready-bake noodles cooked through (if you are using zucchini – no need to do this step). If the noodles still feel aldente, then add another 5 to 10 minutes. Cover with foil if the top begins to brown too much.
Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!!