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Signature Dish: Butternut Squash Lasagna With Beef

Dave Rohde, founder and CEO of Paleo on the Go, worked with chef Karen Rylander on the dish.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Dave Rohde, founder and CEO of Paleo on the Go, worked with chef Karen Rylander on the dish.

WHO: Dave Rohde, 32, of Holiday, founder and CEO of Paleo on the Go, and Karen Rylander, 36, of Dunedin, chef and nutrition consultant at Paleo on the Go

WHAT: Butternut Squash Lasagna With Beef

ABOUT THE RECIPE: "The Paleo diet is giving your body the nutrition it needs to heal itself and helping your body detox," Rohde said. He would know. Suffering from life-threatening food allergies and an autoimmune disease, he decided to try the diet. He improved so much that he founded Paleo on the Go, a company that makes Paleo-friendly meals and ships them around the country. "I wanted to help other people who were suffering," he said.

Their bestseller is their butternut squash lasagna. Because the Paleo diet cuts out dairy products, the lasagna is cheese-free. Rylander blends cashews with fresh basil and sea salt until they reach the consistency of ricotta. She slices butternut squash into lasagna-shaped noodles, then layers them with the "cashew-ricotta" and a meat sauce made from grass-fed ground beef. With the creamy cashew filling, people always say, "I can't believe there's no cheese in this!"

While Rylander says she loves the hearty flavors, Rohde says he appreciates how practical the lasagna is. "I like that if I'm really busy it's (already) got the vegetables in it so I can heat up one thing and it can be a complete meal," he added.

TIPS: "The cashew-ricotta is so easy," Rylander said. You soak the cashews overnight to make them tender, then puree them in a food processor with fresh basil and sea salt and blend until they reach the consistency of ricotta cheese.

ON THE SIDE: "I love to eat it with a fresh green salad: some arugula, spinach and romaine," Rylander said. "My favorite dressing is fresh lemon juice and olive oil with a little bit of sea salt."

FAVORITE THING TO COOK WITH: "I absolutely love my immersion blender," Rylander said. Also known as a stick blender, it's a narrow blender she uses for pureeing.

Emily Young, Times correspondent

If you have a recipe that you would like featured, or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, email jkeeler@tampabay.com with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Or mail to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

>>MODERATE

Butternut Squash Lasagna With Beef

2 cups raw cashews

½ to ¾ cup fresh basil

Sea salt to taste

1 (1 ½- to 2-pound) butternut squash, sliced thin

1 onion, chopped

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 (24-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (6-ounce) can tomato puree

Soak cashews overnight. Drain, saving some of the liquid. Blend cashews with basil and sea salt in a food processor. Add in soaking liquid as needed to get a ricottalike consistency. Set aside. Peel and slice the butternut squash into uniform slices the thickness of a lasagna noodle.

To make the meat sauce, saute onion, until tender, in a little olive oil in a pan large enough to also hold the crushed tomatoes. Add garlic and salt. Then add beef and brown. Add tomatoes and tomato puree and let simmer. Taste and add salt as needed.

To assemble, layer bottom of pan with meat sauce, layer squash on top, then spread cashew "ricotta" over squash. Continue to layer.

Bake covered at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, until squash is tender.

Source: Dave Rohde of Holiday and Karen Rylander of Dunedin

Signature Dish: Butternut Squash Lasagna With Beef 05/12/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2014 7:55pm]
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