Butternut Squash Lasagna

 I will never forget the day my mom came home from the grocery store and promptly announced that she would never, ever cook lasagna again. In her hands she triumphantly held a frozen foil box that would end her kitchen drudgery forever. I cringe at this memory.
Lasagna therefore went from being a special meal in my house to an almost weekly occurrence because suddenly, all this meaty, ice-brick required was a short stint in a hot oven. No pots and pans to clean, no kitchen equipment, not even a cutting board to wipe down. My mom really had it figured out, but oh, how I missed the taste of the homemade, real deal.

A couple weeks ago I had my annual winter party for my girlfriends. We have a vegan potluck dinner that is always totally yummy and totally inspiring. This year I wanted to make something memorable that would leave a few dirty dishes in its wake. Naturally, I decided to make lasagna. Since egg-free noodles are about as common as the sunshine in this town (i.e. the opposite of common), I thought I’d get creative and make my own pasta…out of celeriac. Weird? Perhaps. But effective? You bet!

In fact, after trying the lasagna for the first time, I realized that I almost prefer the casserole without the noodle. The celeriac is creamy, sweet and bright, with just a little tooth to it mimicking its distant pasta cousin, but without all that white flour that makes me want to take a nap after. Yay!

What else could I do to make vegan, seasonal lasagna? Well, ditch the tomatoes for one, and replace them with butternut squash. Deeelish. This was a great idea. The puree was sweet and saucy, and I totally appreciated the fact that it was so different from the traditional sauce we all know and love.

Lastly, instead of the classic béchamel sauce, I puréed a bunch of white butter beans to create a rich, velvety cream. Béchamel is traditionally made with butter, white flour and milk, with a hint of nutmeg. In a lasagna, it almost disappears, combining itself with the ricotta, sinking into the pasta, and slithering through the pasta sauce. It is what makes lasagna so creamy and delicious, but I have found that the bean béchamel is a fantastic substitute, with lots more protein and fiber.

So by replacing every single element in a lasagna with something more high-vibe, can we still call it lasagna? I’ll take my liberties and say, yes.  

Butternut squash is one of the most common and well-loved winter squashes. Its sweet, creamy flesh makes it perfect for pureed soups and dips, but it is also delicious in stir-fry, grain dishes, and enjoyed raw in salads.

Butternut has an extremely high phytonutrient content. The bright orange colour of the squash indicates that is loaded with beta-carotene, but did you know it also contains other carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin? These carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, fighting free radical damage and inflammation in the body.
New research reveals that the special polysaccharides, called pectins, found in the cell walls of the butternut squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.

Although we may think of butternut squash as being rather impenetrable when it comes to pesticides, it is one vegetable we should consider purchasing organic if possible. Here’s why: recent agricultural trials have shown that all winter squash is particularly good at cleaning contaminated soils. The squashes act almost like sponges, effectively soaking up Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are unwanted contaminants. Sometimes farmers will plant winter squashes not as a food crop, but to improve the soil quality in between seasons and/or crop rotations. The squashes that are grown for food in contaminated soil may contain harmful substances even if they have not been sprayed. Since certified organic foods are grown in soils that are far less likely to contain undesirable levels of PAHs, it is recommended to add butternut squash to your list of best-to-buy-organic!

Seeing as this is a lasagna, there are of course a few elements involved. If you’re short on time, buy beans in a can instead of cooking them yourself. Since you will be pureeing them, it’s allowed. You can also roast the butternut squash a day or two ahead of time.

I served this lasagna with a side of massaged kale, apples and walnuts. The salad complimented the lasagna really well. In fact, next time I may actually put walnuts in the filling, or sprinkle them on top. This was a delectable autumn meal that will most certainly be repeated. Perhaps not weekly, but doesn’t that make it all the more special? Indeed.

Butternut Squash Lasagna 
Serves 6-8

Butternut Squash Sauce
2 kg / 4.5 lbs. butternut squash
3-4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt to taste

Directions:
1. Cut butternuts in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Rub with a little coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Roast in a 400°F / 200°C oven until soft, about 40-60 minutes (cooking time depends on the size of the squash/es). Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Scoop out flesh from the butternut squash and place in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste.

Celeriac “Noodles”
600g / 1.3 lbs celeriac
vegetable broth

Directions:
1.  Begin by peeling the celeriac. Because there is so many knotted roots on the bottom half of the vegetable, it is easiest to use a knife for this job.
2. You can either cut the round celeriac into a brick shape, or leave it round. Cut the root horizontally into very thin sheets (sharpen your knife before doing this!)
3. Braise celeriac sheets in simmering vegetable broth for 3-5 minutes depending on their thickness. Cook just until al dente – not mushy. Drain and set aside until ready to use.

Bean “Béchamel”
2 heaping cups butter beans (or any white bean)
nutmeg, grated to taste
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
pinch salt if needed
¼ – ½ cup water

Directions:
1. Cook beans according to your tastes. If using canned, drain and rinse very well.
2. Put all ingredients except for water in a food processor. Add water with the motor running until a creamy sauce results, to the consistency that you like. Make as smooth as possible. Season to taste.

Other elements:
fresh baby spinach

Assembly
You can freestyle this if you like, but I recommend placing the celeriac on the bottom as the first layer.

In a 8″ x 10″ (20 x 25cm) casserole dish, layer the following:
celeriac noodles
butternut squash sauce
baby spinach leaves
bean béchamel
celeriac noodles…and so on…

This recipe made enough for two full rounds of the above, plus one extra layer of celeriac and a final topping of the butternut sauce. I sprinkled fresh thyme on top with some cracked black pepper. It could also be nice with dried chili flakes, rosemary or sage.

To cook:
Bake until warmed through. Serve immediately.

This would be a fabulous main dish at any holiday party, or even Christmas dinner. You may be surprise just how yummy a tomato-free, dairy-free, pasta-free lasagna can taste anything but flavour-free!




155 comments

  1. Camille

    So delicious!! I was skeptical when I tasted the butterbean on its own, but it mixed perfectly with everything else. I didn’t have spinach so I used kale instead. This recipe is seriously amazing! I found this recipe through an internet search, and will definitely be cooking from your blog more often! Thanks!

  2. Priscilla B.

    Oh, Sarah! You outdid yourself with this recipe! I paired it with the Banoffee pie from your cookbook and it was phenomenal! I’m loving cooking through your cookbook!

  3. Beatrice

    Hurray hurray for your lasagn-ay!
    Delicious, left us feeling delighted ;-)
    My mom (from Italy, nonetheless!) was a big fan.
    Grazie Sarah Bella!

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  6. Vicky

    I adore the flavours in this lasagne and it’s suitable for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which my son follows. I haven’t tried making a bechamel sauce with white beans – I’ve made everything else with them though so I’m definitely trying it when my son comes to stay (or even before because we LOVE celeriac)

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  8. Laura

    I’m unfortunately the only vegan in my household and my fiancé is a huge veg hating carnivore! Yet he’s my carer so, could he make this in smaller dishes and freeze it raw, then cook it from frozen? Love your content :)

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  11. Lisa

    Wow!! This was insanely delicious, far tastier than i expected it to be, i was a bit dubious to be honest as i was making it as to how ` lasagne-like` it would be, but i too prefer it over the original!! Added some nutritional yeast to my bechamel, put walnuts in the top layer and sprinked some cornmeal on top to make it a bit crispy. Amazing recipe, thankyou!!

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  21. Linda

    Enjoyed this recipe. Had to change it a bit cos didn’t have all the ingredients. Added cashews to the bechemel sauce, and used eggplant for the “pasta” Used sweet potato instead of squash, and added a spinach/mushroom layer, because I had to use them up. The family loved it. Will make again.

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  28. M M

    i made this in the afternoon ahead of an evening dinner party, and whilst it was chilling in the fridge, i came back here to read the comments to see if i could find some advice about what temp / how long to bake it. and then i read all of the comments about the mushy-ness, and became totally fearful and paranoid that my lasagne would be this horrific shapeless mess failure – especially as i had tried to make my celeriac noodles on the thinner side. TWO HOURS OF TERROR. but >>> NO. as it turned out, this is the most freaking delicious thing i have ever made. i added about a cup of cashew nuts into the béchamel sauce, which on baking sort of puffed up and gave it a little more ricotta-texture. other than that i followed the recipe to exactitude. the celeriac noodles had just enough bite to keep the layers distinct. it was gorgeous. seriously: TOTALLY AMAZING. <3 <3 <3 <3 i wonder what temp and how long the mushy people baked it for? i think it crisped up quite a lot at the end. i heated it for about 45 mins at 400F

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  36. Zoe

    I made this today and it tastes divine. Thankyou Sarah for sharing! Your recipes are changing my life and eating habits one day at a time, your passion for food is inspiring me, I’m learning so much about why these options are good for my body and health practically and best of all everything I have made so far from your blog tastes amazing. I was beginning to give up hope of eating healthily but still enjoying the taste of the food I was making. So from the other side of the world here in Australia, a very sincere thankyou.

  37. Hanna

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for your great recipes! I just made this lasagna tonight and it tasted really good. Even my meat-and-pasta-loving husband said it was delicious! I topped his portion with some blue cheese. I’m gonna try a lot more of your recipes!

    Thanks and best wishes,

    Hanna

  38. Secret Sauce

    Thanks for this recipe! Have been living out of home for the first time for nearly a year, just starting to comfortably navigate my way through the kitchen after building up a decent spice rack and getting in the gradual practice.

    I improvised with the beans on this dish, I only had pinto and chickpeas so used those with a little extra chilli giving it a hearty punch. I already had wholewheat sheets waiting to be used, so didn’t get to try the celeriac this time round. I didn’t even think about the lack of texture until I read through the comments – I was thinking it drew more similarity to other vegetarian options, like a spinach and ricotta type dish, and didn’t find the “mushiness” to be a negative, although that is just personal preference. Either way, next time I will definitely try the walnuts and perhaps tofu or some more green vegetables to mix it up a bit.

    Thanks again.

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  40. The Vegan Cookie Fairy

    HOLY COW. I am totally trying this. I keep getting celeriac in my weekly organic vegetable delivery and I just don’t know what to make with it, except apple & celeriac soup. This lasagna looks out of this world. Thank you for sharing! xoxo

  41. Paula

    For those asking about substitutions for the celeriac: Next time I make this, I will use turnips or rutabagas instead. They should have a similar texture but a milder flavor. Anyway, I made this last night and really enjoyed it (despite the strong celery root flavor)! I don’t eat legumes so I replaced the beans in the bechamel with riced cauliflower, and I also added layers of ground sweet Italian sausage (not vegetarian, I know, but delicious). Great winter recipe, thanks for sharing!

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  43. Kathy-Lee

    Yess, thank you Sarah!
    My mother is quite the lasagna addict but unfortunatly for the boxed version too!
    But on my tomorrow’s day off of school, I’m going to make this for her!
    Almost can’t wait after I already prepared the majority!

  44. Sarah Becker

    Can you make the Butternut Sauce and Bean Bechamel a day ahead? Will it last/taste yummy if put together with noodles next day?

    Thank you! Love the vegan friendly recipes!!!!

    • Al

      For any of those wondering, this tastes even better the second, third, and even fourth day! Just don’t overcook the celeriac! :)

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  48. Anne

    Hi,
    I´ve made this tonight and added some red onions and walnuts on top and it turned out awesome! Luckily I have read some of the comments before and sliced the celeriac thin but not ultra-thin so the Lasagna wasn´t mushy at all. I think, to avoid it to taste like babyhood, like one of the comments above said, you must make sure to use enough salt, pepper, garlic and herbs as recommended in the recipe. Best feedback is the one from my meat loving partner who said thank you for this wonderful dinner :-)

  49. Kennedy

    I too wish I had read the comments before making this dish. I’m not a vegan but I love butternut squash &vegan food on occasion. I made this for myself and also made a roast chicken for my husband, who does not like vegan food. I was so looking forward to this but the texture was so mushy I decided to use it as a side dish to the chicken (like mashed potatoes) Added gravy and it was great, though no longer a vegan dish. This is a very nice site and I will try more recipes.

  50. Chloe

    Made this tonight for dinner!

    Nice recipe, I added my own twist to it ( which is normal for me with any recipe). Didn’t have a food processor, so I just used my smoothie blender for the Bean Bechamel. I also alternated my “bean bechamel” with kidney beans (used heavy cracked, black pepper & super heavy olive oil pour)Turned out nice. I noticed with the Celeriac, the recipe calls to slice the slices “very” thin – I found that the slices that were thinner than about a 1/8th inch were too thin and left out texture. So I think a fair “size” would be slightly less than 1/4th of an inch for texture. Anway – With the squash, it was super easy to just mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Plus, added texture bonus for the “lasagna”. My husband and I decided it’s a bit more of a “dip” then a lasagna – never the less, yum! Nice flavors! Thank you!

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  52. Rio

    Hi Sarah, love your blog! it’s so inspirational! I noticed many of your recipes call for celeriac. Unfortunately here in New Zealand it’s quite hard to find, or insanely expensive, so I’m planning to grow some. But in the meantime is there another vege which I could substitute it for? Thanks so much!

    • michele

      To anyone seeking to sub for celeriac: any root veg will do! Sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, rutabega — I make a similar dish that layers all of these successfully, as well as butternut squash. I don’t have a thick sauce — my recipe is all layered vegetables, then a wine sauce poured over (greens in between layers optional). Bake it really well. For those disliking the “mushy” celeriac (I find it flabby myself), you can roast whatever “noodle” veg you choose to give it better flavor and structure… Of course, you can do zucchini for the noodles, either roasted first or steamed within the dish.

  53. Feila

    Just made this and it was amazing. Thank you so so much for this recipe…. It was so tasty and a big plus that it is super healthy.

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  55. Madison

    I know that it’s best enjoyed straight out of the oven but setting a few mashed baby portions aside for my son would be great with this delicious recipe. Would it be suitable for freezing?

  56. Dani

    I made this tonight and sadly have to say I was very disappointed. The texture was off, very mushy-more like baby food (and I’m vegan so I’m used to mush), and other than the garlic no other flavors came through. Good in theory, and the picture is nice, wish I had read the comments before making it-seems like mush is a common theme.

  57. Rosa Polak

    This is one of the most surprising yummie dishes I’ve had in a long time! Even two days after and cold it was delish. Thank you Sarah!

  58. Meg

    Thanks SO much for this recipe, it turned out great. So refreshing to find a vegan/gluten free lasagne that isn’t packed with ‘fake’ cheese

    The butter bean béchamel is amazing too.

  59. Rebekah

    Oh my goodness, I am soooo going to try this! Love, love, LOVE butternut squash! :) Thanks for the recipe! You rock!

  60. Cassandra

    Hi Sarah. Made this on the weekend (but should not have told the husband that it was a lasagna, big mistake!). The individual parts were so delicious. And the flavours went very well together. However we found the overall dish in need of some texture as it seemed a bit of a mush. Walnuts sound like a great idea, and possibly more green veg, small cut broccoli or something. Herbs would be great too I think. Thanks for such a beautiful website with wonderful inspiring recipes.

  61. Anonymous

    I came across this with a google search and had to try it! We decided it shouldn’t’t be called lasagna, but enjoyed it. My big change was to add caramelized onions to the top–if I make it again I’ll add them throughout.

    First time to your blog, and love your creativity.

  62. Ayngelina

    Thank you so much for this. I just started dating a vegetarian and told him how I loved butternut squash lasagna but I have also learned he has issues with lactose and should cut dairy out too. I’m going to try this recipe this week!

  63. Jeff B.

    This was super fun to make, and a great idea! If I may, I’d recommend a few things:

    - Make a double layer of celery root

    - Add roasted garlic to the white bean bechamel, and don’t blend all of it; reserve about a quarter of it and add in into a layer for texture

    - Walnuts greatly add to the texture

    - Intersperse basil leaves in with the spinach or chard

    - Don’t skimp on the herbs on top, they’re delicious!

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  65. hannah

    This was delicious, absolutely amazing! As is, while I was still eating it I was fantasising about making it again! Thank you so much for a keeper! And merry Xmas

  66. Lili

    I just made this, even after reading some of the not so positive comments, and I found it to be delightful! The celeriac noodle provided a great texture in juxtaposition to the softer purées, it was not all just mushy. It is important to not cook the celeriac too long, to keep the soft but firm texture. Each element had distinctive flavor that blended together to make a really comforting yet light dish. I added thyme and walnuts on top, which I think may be an important addition for complexity. Thank you Sarah! You continue to shine!!

  67. Michele T

    I love mynewroots so much. I have eaten so many of your recipes and always look here first when making my weekly shopping list. I just have to share then that this one is really off the mark. I made it last week with high quality ingredients and the flavors just melted together and the texture was like baby food. We were careful with the celery root, but it didn’t help. Unfortunately, I just composted a big portion of the leftovers. Just want to say to other readers out there, don’t let this one discourage you. The other meals on this site are amazing.

  68. janet @ the taste space

    While mine didn’t turn out as pretty as yours, Sarah, I still think it looked better than it tasted. Tasted best fresh and the leftovers were lackluster, unfortunately. My celeriac was very al dente, so I was reminded how to use a knife and fork. I haven’t had to use them in ages. ;)

  69. Erin

    Agree with FatTailed that the textures of the two purees were too similar to be satisfying. I had one piece and didn’t care to have another one — I ended up removing the celeriac noodles, turning the whole thing into one big bean/butternut squash sauce, and then using it to become a butternut squash chili.

    I still love you Sarah B but I thought this one was a little off the mark.

  70. Aurelie

    Celeriac as the “pasta layer” in lasagne is a keeper! I don’t care much for past in any of its form so I loved this recipe! Cannot wait to make other versions of it. Thanks for sharing!

  71. Fat-tailed

    Love your recipes normally, but after just making this, it seems off. The individual components were tasty, but all of the texture were *much* too similar — it was one gloppy puree on another. It was completely missing the textural interest that gives heartiness to a lasagna. Desperately needed something think, or something chunky, or something or a different texture than the bean puree and the squash puree. Sorry, but this one is disappointing.

  72. Anonymous

    Hi Sarah and readers, can you tell me some other ingredient to use in the place of celeriac. Because i can’t find it in my area.

    Monica

  73. Jana

    we had this for DINNER tonight and was such a hit! even all conservative meat-eaters were simply blown away…I love the combo, the taste and want to tell u how HAPPY+Lucky we are to have UUUUUUUUUUUU! btw I added some thai basil inside and few lime keffir leaves, yumyum…

  74. Katie @ Whole Nourishment

    Butternut squash in lasagna is a beautiful combination. And this creation is insanely creative but still surprisingly easy to execute. I will be making this for our Christmas Eve dinner, paired with a crunchy green salad for another dimension of texture!

  75. india flint

    i love making lasagne. takes me an afternoon.

    much as i enjoyed reading your recipe i am unlikely to abandon butter/milk/cheese in the near future as i subscribe to the view that

    butter makes it better
    and
    only butter butters.
    warm wishes

  76. Anonymous

    Wow this looks wonderful! I am a huge fan of your blog. I would love to make this for Christmas dinner. Would this recipe freeze well?

  77. Stephanie

    OK, my boyfriend is Italian and he might just kill me if I make this and call this lasagna anything (his mother only makes a lasagna dish for us for Pasqua (Easter) – tomatoes, homemade pasta and cheese e basta), but it looks delicious and completely up my alley! :) I’ll have to make up another name.

  78. Jana

    what an amazing recipe!!! I am making this my yummy-spoiling me-weekend activity, cant wait:-) so happy I already bought a butternut squash today before I even saw this! yeahhh…in case I have not said it (lately): you are such THE (best) gourmet-vegan-angel and we love U for this:-)xxxxxx

  79. Dawn

    Lovely! My mom was the same. I remember the chicken pot pie from the freezer and the peas tasted, to me, like gasoline. It had to have been pretty bad for me to not like a pie with a flakey crust. I can’t wait to try this!

  80. Nina

    Oh, this looks so delicious and gives me lots of ideas for making lasagne around my household’s multiple food sensitivities. Lately we’ve been enjoying brown rice pasta with roasted squash and a Bechamel-ish sauce made from gram (chickpea) flour. You have to eat it straight away because it starts to congeal pretty rapidly, but it’s really creamy and good.

  81. Jan C

    Can you suggest a cooking temperature and approximate time to bake? Since I have a party next week, this will definitely be coming along with me. This looks absolutely delicious! Thank you Sarah B ;o)

  82. Joanne

    I am so confused-are noodles and pasta the same thing? (as they are not!) I assume you are referring to the original lasagna pasta sheets and substituting these with sheets of celeriac. That makes more sense.

  83. Natasha

    Ooh, I made my own version of butternut lasagna the other day and I loved it. Egg free lasagna is really easy to get where I live, so it was a more traditional version. I mixed tomato paste and herbs with the butternut and layered it with a nutritional yeast bechamel sauce. I put some sesame seeds on top for a bit of crunch.

  84. Liz B

    Like seriously I made lasagna @ casaVinyasa this morning! I was desperate for a bechamel replacement, and lasagna sheets – so yours is defo on my next try!! I layered the one I did with swiss chard, and made a fennel and onion ‘white’ sauce, with goats yogurt stirred in – hope the girls likes it! xxx

  85. Ketmala Phoumalavong

    I used a lot of celeriac in our winter soups and raw salads, so I’ll definitely have to try your vibrant lasagna recipe because my 6 1/6 year son LOVES butternut squash. What a great idea with the bean béchamel too. Thank you Sarah, you always creates amazing healthy recipes! I will make sure to share your lasagna with my vegan students.

  86. sweet road

    I’ve never been a fan of lasagna, but butternut squash lasagna is a different breed altogether. It has such a different taste but the comforting feeling is still the same… Can’t wait to make some this winter!

  87. Frances@Lila

    Oh my goodness that looks amazing! And so healthy.
    I’m in the process of moving into a new house, but as soon as I get my kitchen set up I am totally trying this recipe. I’ve never used celeriac before so I’m curious to try it out. I love the idea of using beans to make a creamy sauce. Genius.
    :)

  88. Tanja

    Wow. I am going to make this next week (I’ll have to go searching for celeriac). And then I am going to make a double recipe to bring to the farm for Christmas – between milk allergies and gluten sensitivities and kids that refuse to eat tomato….
    Will it freeze okay, do you think?

  89. Rebecca

    This looks AMAZING! I cannot wait to try this – the perfect holiday meal! I have been missing butternut squash lasagna so much and never thought to use celeriac as “noodles,”, what a wonderful idea! Happy holidays, dear!

  90. Anouk

    Sounds yum! Have also fallen for butternut squash lasagna and make the béchamel out of soaked cashews + creamy goat cheese + fresh herbs & garlic: a winner! Next time I’ll have to try celeriac sheets, lovely vegetable – highly underrated.

  91. Anonymous

    This post just made me want to scream of JOY. So thank you for this ! now let’s see if I can trick my pasta addicted husband…

  92. london bakes

    We often used celeriac to make an easy gluten free lasagne and it works so well. Love the idea of the changes you made here as well with the butternut squash and that amazing sounding white bean bechamel. Love!

  93. Louisa

    Brilliant! I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with different lasagna recipes and I’m definitely going to try your bean bechamel. Nice one.

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