Vegan butternut squash and red lentil lasagna is a delicious change to regular lasagna. The flavours of coriander, cumin and garam masala add the right amount of spice while complimenting the tasty veggies. An amazing vegan cheesy sauce is prepared with butternut squash or pumpkin and silken tofu to create a satisfying savoury, creamy topping.
A great idea is to use leftover pumpkin from carving at Halloween, and use it instead of the butternut squash, to prepare the lasagna sauce. Utterly delicious.
📜 Origins of lasagna
The best meals are classic meals with deep roots in history. I love traditional foods hence the name of our traditional family recipe blog. I find it fascinating discovering what people used to eat and how those meals evolved.
Modern day lasagna likely originates from medieval Italy. A lasagna recipe was recorded in one of the first recipe books, the 14th century cookbook titled The Liber de Coquina or The Book of Cookery.
Medieval Italians enjoyed their lasagna sheets fermented and boiled. Cheese and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon were added to flavour the pasta sauce.
Eventually other ingredients were added to the lasagna such as meat, meatballs, eggs, vegetables, herbs, and white sauces. Tomatoes were not introduced to Italy until the 16th century so medieval lasagnas were tomato free!
However, there is contention as to whether lasagna is in fact a British invention as a recipe for lasagna was also discovered in the first British cookery book The Forme of Cury  which contained the recipes from King Richard the Third's master cooks.
The Forme of Cury lasagna was titled by the Old English term Loseyns and was a layered dish of pasta, cheese and a meat sauce. The pasta was simply prepared with white flour and water, rolled out and dried before being boiled in a pot. The cooked pasta was layered with grated cheese, sweet spices and a meaty broth, similar to a modern day lasagna layers.
Some claim that medieval British knights enjoyed meals of lasagna and the historian Glyn Hughes  book which translates The Forme of Cury into modern day English, states that the English Loseyns and the Italian Lasagne both have their origins in 1st century Roman cookery.
It is interesting to note that medieval pasta, including British medieval pasta dishes, was flavoured with spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, mace, cloves as well as other spices, and often sprinkled with sugar! Yet these pasta dishes were not regarded as a dessert.
🎃 Our butternut squash lasagna
This meat-free lasagna is packed full of wholesome ingredients including red lentils, kidney beans, butternut squash, sweet potatoes cooked in a lightly spiced tomato sauce. The spices used are cumin powder, coriander [cilantro] powder and garam masala powder. Lasagna cooked with spices are a great match that dates back to medieval times where pasta and spices was a common dish at least for the middle class and nobility!
Although, we use butternut squash you could always switch it out and use pumpkin or acorn squash, or even sweet potato. This lasagna would be a tasty way to use up some of the insides of a Halloween carving pumpkin or Jack-o-Lantern.
The lasagna is finished with a cheesy white butternut squash sauce which is enriched with white miso paste and nutritional yeast flakes. And for extra cheesiness we add some grated vegan cheese to the top near the end of cooking.
Our kids think that the best part is the crispy bits on the baked topping and they always argue as to who will get the best crunchy corners that always seem to catch and brown within the oven.
This lasagna recipe is one of our family favourites especially for any visiting meat-eaters. The flavours are so savoury and satisfying that meat is certainly not missed.
However, if your looking for an extra quick lasagna recipe that is ideal for easy mid-week family dinners then do check out our Vegan Lasagne Soup recipe as its especially great for those days when you fancy a lasagna but are short on time.
🍝 Is it a lasagna or a lasagne?
Both "lasagne" and "lasagna" refer to the same dish, but they are used differently in different locations and have slight language differences.
"Lasagne" is the plural form of the Italian word "lasagna," which refers to the dish's wide, flat pasta sheets. "Lasagna" mainly refers to the meal itself in Italian cuisine, which is produced by layering the pasta sheets with various ingredients such as meat, vegetables, cheese, and sauce.
The name "lasagna" is often used in English-speaking countries to refer to both the pasta sheets and the layered dish. It has become the standard spelling in English, although "lasagne" is less frequently used.
So, "lasagne" is the plural version of the Italian term for pasta sheets, but "lasagna" is the generally used phrase to refer to both the pasta layer dish and the pasta sheets.
🔪 How to prepare
There are a few stages to preparing this vegan lasagna but the steps can be prepped in advance so that on the day the lasagna is required it can be simply put together quickly. Such as prepare the cheese sauce and the filling in advance.
Step 1: Sauté the onions, carrots, celery and sweet potato in oil or vegetable broth for 8 minutes.
Step 2: Next add the garlic, cumin powder, coriander [cilantro], bay leaf, and tomato paste [puree]. Mix and cook for a further 1 minute.
Step 3: Mix through the dried red split lentils and kidney beans.
Step 4: Pour in the vegetable broth stock canned diced tomatoes. Gently boil for 20 minutes.
Step 5: While the filling is cooking, prepare the lasagna sauce. Add the butternut squash to water in a pan and cook for about 10 minutes until soft.
Step 6: Transfer the cooked squash to a food processor or blender, along with the water, silken tofu, nutritional yeast flakes, white miso paste, and apple cider vinegar. Blend the sauce until smooth.
Step 7: Set the vegan cheese sauce aside until required.
Step 8: Once the filling has cooked stir through the garam masala powder, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Step 9: Now its time to layer up the lasagna using the dried lasagna sheets. Add a layer of the filling to the bottom of the baking dish, cover with lasagna sheets, and repeat until the filling has been used up. Spread the cheese sauce over the top.
Step 10: Bake for 25 minutes,
Step 11: Remove the lasagna from the oven and sprinkle the top with grated vegan cheese. Bake for a further 15 minutes.
Optional Step 12: Garnish with chopped parsley or coriander or chives.
Enjoy your delicious home-cooked meat-free lasagna! You'll likely go back for second helpings!
📋 Recipe Notes
Store leftovers within a covered container for up to 3 days. Or once the baking dish has cooled completely you can cover the dish and store the lasagna inside.
Or freeze for 3-4 months.
Reheat the leftovers either in an oven or microwave. Set the oven to a notch below the cooking temperature stated within the recipe and cover your baking dish with some aluminium or kitchen foil. Reheat for 35-30 minutes or until piping hot throughout, and the sauce is bubbling. You can remove the foil a few minutes before its ready so as to crisp up the top if preferred.
Or reheat in a microwave by adding slices of lasagna to a microwave-safe plate. Cover the plate with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap poking a hole in the middle to allow steam to escape. Reheat for 2-3 minutes at a time until its steaming hot throughout the lasagna.
Yes, this vegan lasagna is perfect for gluten-free diets with a few simple modifications. The main considerations is to use a gluten-free vegetable broth, a gluten-free plain flour mix, and gluten-free lasagna sheets, and also to double check any packaged ingredients just to be sure they are free from gluten ingredients.
White miso paste is a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans, rice, and sometimes other grains. It has a smooth texture and a slightly sweet, mild flavor compared to darker miso varieties.
In general, miso paste is gluten-free. However, it's essential to check the specific brand and product you are purchasing, as some varieties may contain added ingredients that could potentially contain gluten.
Miso paste has a long history in Japanese cuisine, and its exact origins are not well-documented. However, the general technique of fermenting soybeans and other grains to produce a paste-like condiment has been practiced in East Asia for centuries.
The use of miso as a food ingredient can be traced back to ancient times in Japan. Historical records suggest that miso production and consumption date back at least 1,300 years. The specific origin of white miso paste is not clear, as different types and variations of miso have developed over time.
Miso production has evolved and improved over centuries, with various regional styles and preferences emerging. White miso, known as "shiro miso" in Japanese, is believed to have developed later compared to other types like red miso and soybean miso.
In both the US and the UK, you can find white miso paste at various grocery stores and specialty Asian food markets. Here are some common places where you can purchase white miso paste:
Whole Foods Market: Whole Foods typically carries a selection of miso paste, including white miso, in their international or Asian food sections.
Asian Markets: Look for local Asian grocery stores or markets in your area. They often have a wide range of miso paste options, including white miso.
Natural Food Stores: Many natural food stores, such as Sprouts, Trader Joe's, or local co-ops, have a section dedicated to Asian ingredients and may stock white miso paste.
Supermarkets: Asda [UK] stock Yutaka white miso paste and at the time of writing it is £1.75 for a small jar, although a jar will last for ages within the refrigerator and will enhance many dishes as only a small amount is required for each recipe.
Asian Supermarkets: Check out larger Asian supermarkets like H Mart, Wing Yip, or Japan Centre in the UK. They tend to have a variety of miso paste options, including white miso.
Health Food Stores or shops: Look for health food stores or organic markets that have an Asian or international food section. They may carry white miso paste, often in the refrigerated section.
Online Retailers: Websites like Amazon, Ocado, or Asian-focused online grocery stores can offer a wide range of options for purchasing white miso paste and deliver it to your doorstep.
When buying white miso paste, be sure to read the labels and ingredients to ensure you are getting the specific type and brand you desire. Some popular brands of white miso paste include Hikari Miso, Marukome, and Clearspring.
If you can't source white miso paste then it can be simply omitted from the recipe or it can be replaced with one of these options:
Yellow or Light Miso: Yellow or light miso is a good substitute for white miso in most recipes. It has a similar mild flavor and can provide a similar umami boost to dishes.
Chickpea Miso: Made from fermented chickpeas, chickpea miso can be used as a replacement for white miso. It has a slightly different flavor profile but can work well in many recipes.
Red Miso: While it has a stronger and saltier flavor compared to white miso, red miso can be used in smaller quantities as a substitute. Keep in mind that it will darken the color of your dish.
Soy Sauce or Tamari: Although they won't provide the exact flavor profile of miso, using a small amount of soy sauce or tamari can add umami and depth to your dish.
Mushroom Powder or Vegetable Bouillon: If you're looking to replace the umami-rich quality of miso, you can use a small amount of mushroom powder or vegetable bouillon to enhance the flavor of your recipe.
Mustard can be used as a substitute for white miso paste in a vegan cheese sauce to add some tanginess and depth of flavor. While it won't replicate the exact taste and umami of miso paste, mustard can provide a savory and slightly tangy element.
When using mustard as a substitute, start with a small amount and adjust to your taste preferences. You can add it gradually to the cheese sauce, tasting as you go, until you achieve the desired flavor balance. Keep in mind that mustard can be quite potent, so a little goes a long way.
It's worth noting that the overall flavor profile of the cheese sauce may be different compared to using miso paste. However, mustard can still contribute to a delicious and tangy vegan cheese sauce in its own right.
Experiment with different mustard varieties, such as Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard, to find the flavor that complements your dish best.
Of course. Any of the vegetables can be subbed out for your favourite vegetables. Likewise the kidney beans can be replaced with your preferred pulse,
Also, to save time, a ready-made vegan white lasagna sauce or cheese sauce could be used instead of the home-made butternut sauce.
Additionally, if your not too keen on spices then simply replace with some mixed herbs or just omit. Although the spices are mild and not too spicy so they are perfect for those liking less spicy meals. For those who do enjoy spicy meals simply add some chilli powder.
Finally, instead of the grated vegan cheese topping, this can be replaced with extra nutritional yeast flakes or go for some thin sliced fresh tomatoes placed over the lasagna cheese sauce before baking.
A simple leafy green salad and a few slices of garlic or crusty bread rolls are traditional side accompaniments to a lasagna, but a few more tasty ideas include delicious home-cooked Baked Beans in a Tomato Sauce, tasty flavour-packed Boston Baked Beans, and these amazing Classic Mushy Peas which are so simple and humble yet pack a flavour bang.
Also, these Indian spiced Chana Chaat Chickpeas would compliment the lasagna spices beautifully, and this side can be served chilled.
Here are a few tasty ideas:
Lasagna Pizza: Repurpose the lasagna as a pizza topping. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on a pizza crust, sprinkle with shredded vegan cheese, and add chunks or strips of leftover lasagna. Bake until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly. I love using a variety of leftovers for interesting home-made pizzas, frequently I also use leftovers for pizza roll-ups which are just like pizza but the dough is rolled into a swiss roll shape once the filling is added, then baked until golden.
Lasagna Soup: Cut leftover lasagna into bite-sized pieces and use them in a hearty lasagna soup. Combine the lasagna pieces with vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, Italian herbs, and additional vegetables if desired. Simmer until everything is heated through and flavors are well combined. If you'd like an easy lasagna soup recipe check out our family favourite Lasagne Soup recipe its ridiculously easy.
Lasagna Salad: Turn the lasagna into a unique salad by slicing it into thin strips or cubes. Toss the lasagna pieces with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, olives, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Top with a sprinkle of vegan cheese or nutritional yeast for added flavor.
Lasagna Roll-Ups: Take individual portions of leftover lasagna and carefully roll them up, securing them with toothpicks if needed. Place the roll-ups in a baking dish, top with additional sauce and cheese if desired, and bake until heated through. This creates a fun and portable twist on traditional lasagna.
Lasagna Grilled Cheese: Take two slices of bread and spread a layer of vegan butter on one side of each slice. Place a slice of leftover lasagna and some vegan cheese between the bread slices. Grill the sandwich in a pan or panini press until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted.
Lasagna Quesadillas: Take pieces of leftover lasagna and place them between two tortillas along with some vegan cheese. Cook the quesadillas on a griddle or skillet until the tortillas are crispy and the cheese is melted. Slice into wedges and enjoy with guacamole or salsa or ketchup. For an easy guacamole recipe check out our Black Bean Potato Wedges recipe.
Batch cooking vegan lasagna can be a great way to save time and have ready-to-eat meals on hand.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to batch cook vegan lasagna:
Calculate Portions: Determine how many portions you want to make based on your needs. Consider factors such as the number of servings per meal and how many meals you'd like to have in your batch.
Multiply Ingredients: Multiply the ingredients in the recipe by the desired number of portions to accommodate the larger batch. Keep in mind that the cooking time and pan size may need adjustment depending on the quantity. You can use the servings adjustment slide within the recipe card below, if the recalculated amount is not exact then just round it up to the nearest whole number.
Prepare Ingredients: Prepare all the ingredients according to the recipe. Chop the vegetables, cook the vegetables, lentils or beans, and make any sauces or fillings.
Assemble the Lasagna: Layer the lasagna components in a large baking dish or multiple baking dishes if needed. Start with a layer of sauce, followed by lasagna sheets, then the filling, and repeat the layers until you reach the top. Finish with a layer of sauce and any desired toppings.
Bake: Follow the recipe's instructions for baking time and temperature. Keep in mind that larger batches may require slightly longer cooking times.
Cool and Divide: Allow the cooked lasagna to cool completely before dividing it into individual portions. This will prevent condensation and maintain the quality of the lasagna. Use freezer-safe containers or resealable bags to store the portions.
Label and Freeze: Label each container or bag with the date and contents. Place them in the freezer and make sure they are sealed properly to prevent freezer burn. Remember to leave some space for expansion if using containers.
Reheating: When ready to eat, thaw the frozen lasagna portions in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat using an oven or microwave. Adjust the cooking time as needed based on portion size.
By batch cooking vegan lasagna, you can enjoy homemade meals without the need for extensive preparation each time. It allows for convenient, time-saving meal options while still maintaining the delicious flavors of freshly made lasagna.
Yes, you can absolutely meal prep vegan lasagna to make it quicker and more convenient. Here's how you can do it:
Prepare Components in Advance: Make the vegan cheese sauce and lasagna filling ahead of time. Cook and chop the vegetables, and prepare the sauce. Store each component separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble the lasagna.
Assemble Individual Servings: Instead of making a large lasagna in one pan, consider assembling individual servings in separate containers. This way, you can portion out the lasagna and have ready-to-eat meals for each serving. Use oven-safe meal prep containers or individual-sized baking dishes.
Layer the Lasagna: When you're ready to assemble the lasagna, start with a layer of sauce, followed by lasagna sheets, then the filling, and repeat the layers as needed. Finish with a layer of sauce and vegan cheese sauce on top.
Bake or Freeze: If you plan to eat the lasagna within a few days, cover the containers with lids and store them in the refrigerator. When you're ready to enjoy a portion, simply bake it in the oven until heated through.
If you want to store the lasagna for a longer period, cover the containers tightly with foil or transfer them to freezer-safe containers or resealable bags. Label them with the date and contents, then place them in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Reheat and Serve: When it's time to eat, simply reheat the individual portions in the oven or microwave until heated through.
By meal prepping the components of your lasagna, you can significantly reduce the preparation time and have pre-portioned meals ready to go. It allows for more flexibility and convenience when it comes to enjoying homemade lasagna for those busy days we all have!
🧂 More vegan Italian inspired recipes
We also particularly love this easy Three Bean Minestrone soup as its so easy and packed with humble wholesome ingredients. For more dinner ideas do check out our growing collection of home-cooked dinner recipes.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Vegan Butternut Squash and Lentil Lasagna
- large lasagna dish or casserole dish big enough to serve 6-8, or 2 smaller baking dishes
- Small saucepan for cooking butternut squash
- large non-stick pan for cooking lasagna filling
- small food processer or blender, or an immersion stick blender, for blending cheese sauce
To sauté veggies:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or ½ cup [125 ml] of vegetable broth
For lasagna filling:
- 250 grams dried red split lentils
- 1 can kidney beans 400 grams [14oz can], drained. (Or 240 grams cooked beans) Alternatively replace with chickpeas.
- 400 grams sweet potato chopped into bite size chunks
- 200 grams carrots 1 large, sliced lengthways into 4 sticks and chopped into small chunks
- 150 grams onion 1 medium-large, chopped. Any type of onion is fine, especially red ones.
- 100 grams celery 1-2 ribs, sliced into small chunks
- 4 cloves garlic thin sliced, use more if preferred
- 2 cans diced tomatoes two 400g [14 oz cans] or a 500-600g carton or jar of tomato passata
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste [puree]
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon coriander [cilantro] powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 litre vegetable broth [hot]
After sauce is cooked:
- 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice optional
- 12 sheets lasagna dried, use more sheets as required
For the butternut cheesy sauce:
- 300 grams butternut squash or pumpkin, sliced, grated or chopped into small pieces
- 480 millilitres water
- 150 grams firm silken tofu this is often found on the aisle section in supermarkets as it is a shelf-stable tofu
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 100 grams vegan cheese grated, or replace with extra tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes. Or perhaps use some thin sliced tomatoes to cover the sauce.
- 8 grams parsley fine chopped, or replace with coriander or, chives
Prepare the filling:
- Heat the oil or veggie broth in a non-stick pot.1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the onion, celery, carrots, and sweet potato. Sauté over a medium heat for 8 minutes.Stir frequently.400 grams sweet potato, 200 grams carrots, 150 grams onion, 100 grams celery
- Mix through the garlic, bay leaf, cumin, coriander and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute stirring all the time to avoid sticking to the pan.4 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon cumin powder, 2 teaspoon coriander [cilantro] powder, 1 bay leaf
- Stir through the lentils and kidney beans.250 grams dried red split lentils, 1 can kidney beans
- Pour in the hot vegetable broth along with the canned diced tomatoes. Add a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.2 cans diced tomatoes, 1 litre vegetable broth
- Give it a good stir and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes and stir frequently.
Meanwhile prepare the sauce (this step can be omitted if using a ready prepared vegan white or cheese sauce):
- Place the butternut squash into a saucepan along with 2 cups [480 ml] of water.Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the squash is very soft.300 grams butternut squash, 480 millilitres water
- Once soft drain the squash or pumpkin over a sieve or colander, reserving the liquid. Push the squash around to squeeze out excess cooking liquid.
- Place the squash into a food processer or blender. Pour 1 cup [240ml] of the squash cooking liquid into the processer (if you don't have this much just top up with some water). Or place the squash and cooking liquid in a bowl or pot suitable for using an immersion stick blender with.
- Add the remaining sauce ingredients, along with ½ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper if liked.150 grams firm silken tofu, 1 tablespoon white miso paste, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- Blend until smooth. Set aside until required. Don't worry if the sauce looks thin as it will thicken up a little as it sits and even more as it bakes on top of the lasagna.
Preheat the oven to 180 Fan, [200 C], [Gas 6], or [400 Fahrenheit].
After the lasagna filling is ready:
- Once the lasagna filling has been cooking for 20 minutes remove from the pan from the heat.
- Mix through the garam masala, along with the lemon juice if using, and season with salt and pepper to taste.2 teaspoons garam masala powder, 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Assemble the lasagna:
- Cover the base of your casserole dish with the lasagna filling. Layer over lasagna sheets and then another layer of filling and repeat until the filling has been used up.I managed 3 layers of sheets but depending on your oven dish you may get 4 or more layers.12 sheets lasagna
- Pour over the butternut cheese sauce and spread it out to cover the lasagna top, it will drip down the sides into the lasagna but this is fine.
- Bake for 25 minutes on the middle or top oven shelf.The sauce will form a thin crust but will be soft underneath, this is simply the tofu baking and will taste delicious.
- Remove from the lasagna from the oven and sprinkle the vegan grated cheese over. Or instead sprinkle some nutritional yeast flakes for extra cheesiness without the cheese, alternatively add a layer of thin sliced fresh tomatoes.100 grams vegan cheese
- Place the lasagna back into the oven and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the lasagna is at your preferred golden colour and crispness.
- Garnish with chopped parsley, coriander or chives.8 grams parsley
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Leftover vegan lasagna will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days in the fridge. Add a layer of kitchen foil to cover if preferred, or store within a covered container. Or keep the lasagna within the casserole dish.
- Lasagna can be frozen for 4-6 months if well wrapped in the freezer. Defrost completely before reheating, and if frozen within the baking dish allow the dish to come to room temperature, to avoid cracking the dish in the oven.
- To reheat place the lasagna into a casserole dish and cover with kitchen foil to prevent the lasagna overcooking as it reheats. Reheat a notch down from the cooking temperature, for 25-30 minutes or until piping hot.
- The vegan grated cheese can be replaced with a layer of thin sliced tomatoes. Simply add the tomatoes after the white sauce has been spread over the lasagna and bake for 40 minutes.
- A few handfuls of fresh spinach leaves can be added to the lentil mix after it has finished cooking on the stove top. Or add some kale for the last 10 minutes of cooking the lentil mix.
Prepared our Butternut Squash and Lentil lasagna? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe so do pop back and drop us a comment below and click the star ratings. Thanks so much, Jacq x