Feasting on Leaves
The holidays are an odd season of me being absolutely elated due to me deep and abiding love of twinkling lights and constant pressure to figure out if I need to pack muffins in my purse in order to not starve through meat-laden meals. Neither the Southern nor the Cuban is renown for their love of plant-based dishes, leaving me high and dry with spinach salad 80% of the time.
Holding the Line
I am also never the person to rock the fragile tightrope of holiday family dynamics. I am not the person to lecture on sustainable foodways or the carbon footprint of meat. Rather, you will likely find me giving a hand to the array of cousins watching the full-size pig roast in the back yard (I somehow got stuck carrying the pig head in two years in a row).
My Survival Kit
Given my likely irreversible vegetarian nature paired with my strong dedication to being the consummate guest, I like to arrive bearing a dish I can pad my belly with that does not appal my carnivorous neighbors. This means tofurkey and seitan are 100% out of the question. I need something that sounds like it could contain tons of bacon or could pair with tons of bacon.
All that to say, a lovely, holiday flavored lasagna is the perfect option. It can be assembled up to 24 hours ahead of time and baked later. It also travels like a dream. This particular rendition has a pumpkin sauce, roasted garlic and rosemary, and sauteed portobello mushrooms. Also, if you are vegan, it is delicious without cheese, so just leave it off!
The Roasted Garlic Cashew Ricotta can be used as a dip for veggies or as a spread on toasted baguette for an appetizer as well!
Pumpkin Portobello Lasagna Recipe
Preparation time: 1 hour plus time to soak the cashews
Roasted Garlic Cashew Ricotta
1 cup raw cashews
2 cups boiling water for soaking
1 small head of garlic
¼ tsp salt
Juice 1 lemon
Pumpkin Portobello Sauce
2 tsp olive or avocado oil
16 oz portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 large yellow onion, sliced in half-moons
½ tsp salt
2 can (30 oz) organic pumpkin can
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp salt (to taste)
4 cups spinach packed
8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 ⅓ cup of Italian shredded cheese
Make the Roasted Garlic Cashew Ricotta
Cover cashews with boiling water in a heatproof bowl and let sit for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425.
Cut the top off a head of garlic. Place the garlic in the middle of a piece of tin foil big enough to wrap the garlic. Drizzle 1/2 tsp oil on the top of the garlic and seal the garlic by wrapping the tin foil around it. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the garlic is golden brown and soft.
Remove from the oven, unwrap and cool until you can handle the garlic to squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves.
Lower the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, add the soaked cashews. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the cloves and add to the food processor along with the salt and lemon. Pulse the mixture until the cashews are in tiny pieces and the mixture resembles ricotta cheese.
Make the Pumpkin Portobello Sauce
Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add rosemary and saute for 15 seconds, stirring.
Add onion slices and salt. Saute over medium heat until they just start to caramelize, about 4 minutes.
Add mushrooms and cook until the juices release and they are lightly golden, about 5 more minutes.
Stir in pumpkin puree, maple syrup, nutmeg and rosemary. Add salt to taste. Stir together and simmer for a couple minutes.
Add the spinach and stir, simmering lightly, until the spinach wilts, for about 4 minutes. Turn the heat off.
Assemble and Bake the Lasagna
Grease an 8x8 square pan or line with parchment paper. Add 1/4 of the sauce to the bottom of the pumpkin pan and spread evenly. Make 3 layers with the following: 2 lasagna noodles, 1/4 of the pumpkin sauce, 1/3 of the roasted garlic ricotta, and 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
Cover the lasagna with aluminium foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and make 5 more minutes or until golden.
Let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting.