This post was created in partnership with Newman’s Own Organics.
I’ve always thought of lasagna as an intimidating dish in terms of its layered preparation, though I love the flavor and find myself craving it often during the cooler months. I set out to change my outlook with this simple and nourishing spaghetti squash version that tastes every bit as comforting as the original.
Spaghetti squash performs impressively well as a lighter and more nutritious substitute for lasagna noodles that’s still hearty and substantial here. The uppermost layer of the squash that tops the lasagna becomes slightly crispy and golden in the oven and reminds me of my lacy, oven-baked latkes, for which I have a major weakness. The core of the lasagna is made up of the flavor-building trio of onions, carrots and celery, as well as affordable, protein-rich mung beans (you can also use lentils), kale and mushrooms. For the cheesy element, I went with my go-to almond ricotta that is a breeze to make, as well as fluffy, slightly tangy and cheesy, much like the real thing.
I was very excited to partner with Newman’s Own Organics for this recipe for numerous reasons. Pasta sauce is one of the few things that I don’t mind buying pre-made, especially when I know that I can stand behind all the ingredients like I can with Newman’s. Their organic pasta sauce is made with real vegetables and herbs, all of which are organic, and that’s very much reflected in the delicious, classic flavor that works incredibly well in this lasagna. There’s no added sugar, either, the sauce just depends on the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. Another great reason to support the brand is that they donate 100% of their net profits to all kinds of charities around the world, which is an idea that got put into motion by Paul Newman in 1982 and has been carried out gracefully to this very day. This Paul Newman quote is at the core of the company’s mission and basically says it all: “I want to acknowledge luck. The benevolence of it in my life and the brutality of it in the lives of others.”
- 2 cups almonds - soaked overnight in purified water
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 garlic clove - chopped
- generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- pinch sea salt
- 1 large or 2 small spaghetti squash
- 3-4 tablespoons neutral coconut oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup mung beans or French lentils - soaked overnight in purified water
- 1 large yellow onion - chopped
- pinch red pepper flakes
- dried thyme, oregano, marjoram - to taste (optional)
- 2 medium carrots - sliced
- 2 celery ribs - thinly sliced
- 1 lb crimini mushrooms - sliced
- two 24 oz jars marinara sauce or crushed canned tomatoes
- Drain and rinse the almonds. Optionally, squeeze each almond to slip off the skin for a whiter, smoother ricotta, rinse well.
- Place almonds into the bowl of a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. Add ¼ cup water and grind to a ricotta consistency. Add another 1-2 tablespoons of water, if needed. Use right away or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Generously oil the inside of each half with about 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on a parchment paper-covered baking tray and bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° F (190° C).
- While the squash is roasting, drain and rinse the mung beans/lentils, place them in a medium saucepan and cover with purified water. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to a simmer, add salt and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Taste for doneness, simmer for 2-5 minutes more if the beans are not yet tender. If using lentils, cook them for 20-30 minutes until done. Drain and set aside.
- Warm 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, a pinch of salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and thyme/oregano/marjoram, if using, and saute for 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.
- Add carrots, celery and another pinch of salt and saute for another 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for about 8 minutes or longer, until the liquid released by the mushrooms evaporates. Add mung beans and saute for 2 minutes, until coated and incorporated. Remove pan from the heat and set aside.
- Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish (or 2 smaller square dishes, about 8" x 8" or 9" x 9", as pictured) with the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Spread ⅓ of the marinara sauce/crushed canned tomatoes over the bottom of the dish. Using a fork, scoop the spaghetti squash strands out of the skin and spread ⅓ of them over the marinara in an even layer. Reserve about 1 cup of the ricotta for garnish, if desired. Crumble ⅓ of the remaining ricotta over the squash. Top with half of the mung bean and vegetable mixture in an even layer. Repeat with ⅓ of the marinara, squash, ricotta and vegetables. Finish with the last layer of marinara and the squash.
- Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400° F (200° C). Uncover the lasagna and bake for another 10 minutes, until the marinara is bubbling through to the surface. Optionally, turn the broiler on high and broil for a couple minutes, until top layer of the lasagna is golden in places. Remove from the oven, garnish with the reserved ricotta, if using, let cool slightly, slice and serve.