This past weekend, we invited Surabhi and Ziga over for dinner. I was really looking forward to this, as we have never had them over (a bad mistake on our part!) and I was glad that we had a chance to rectify it before the bustle of the holidays!

Both Ziga and Surabhi are vegetarian and I had such trouble trying to figure out what to serve! It wasn’t until that point that I realized how often a protein factors into the dishes I make. Usually, if I make a “vegetarian” meal, it’s a mishmash of things that don’t go together that just happen to have no meat. But for our dinner, I wanted food that fit together, that was hearty enough to be a whole meal.  I also was leaning away from pasta, because another vegetarian friend commented that “going over to a friend’s for dinner” usually resulted in pasta and I was hoping to be a bit more “original.”

But after clicking around the internets and not feeling particularly inspired, I decided to take Amy’s recommendation of Butternut Squash and Kale lasagna.

I think it worked out, except afterwards I wish I had cut back on the cheese in my menu.  For appetizers, I had caprese skewers and curried devilled eggs.  Then we ate lasagna, served with a cheesy bread and salad. If I had made it just a nice buttery garlic bread, I think it would have been just right and I wouldn’t have felt like everything on my menu was cheese!

The lasagna as super delicious in my opinion, so thank you, Amy, for the recommendation! My favorite way to eat it was layer by layer – there were so many different textures and tastes that way. There is a lot going on, and it tastes even better the next day, after it’s had time to sit and for the flavors to really mingle. Like I told Amy, it’s like all the flavors just decided to hug it out and become even more delicious!

I was a bit worried about the kale being bitter, but boiling it helped that.  Of course, I probably destroyed some very good nutrients in the process.  It’s always such a hard balance.

A few tips that Amy gave me and that I would second:

– Buy pre-cut, pre-peeled butternut squash, it will save you SO MUCH time. It already takes about an hour to assemble with that shortcut. Trader Joe’s even conveniently packages them in 2 lb. bags for you!

– Cottage cheese in place of ricotta cheese.  I learned this trick from another lasagna recipe and I found I like the milder taste of cottage cheese, having never been a fan of ricotta cheese.  I am glad Amy told me she made the substitute, though, or I may have forgotten to.