Pumpkin Lasagna for Pumpkin Season

October, 23, 2017.

I love classic lasagna. But I love even more bold lasagnas, featuring interesting combinations—like this one. Although this recipe is a bit time consuming, once assembled, you can freeze it unbaked, or keep in the fridge for up to 5 days ahead of time. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!

This recipe is inspired by Fine Cooking Magazine. I made a similar version a few times, and then came up with my own version.

You can use pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, or any vegetable of the same family. As for the pasta sheets, using store-bought lasagna sheets is convenient, and the result is great. But when I tried using fresh lasagna sheets which are thinner and more delicate, this lasagna was elevated to a whole new level, much finer and sophisticated.

Hope you’ll be inspired to cook this amazing recipe! Be sure to take pictures and share with me when you do!

Serves 8 to 10 people

For the Pumpkin:
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small pumpkin, about 4 lbs, peeled and seeded and cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3 garlic cloves, mashed and finely minced
1 onion, finely chopped

For the Goat Cheese-Bechamel:
4 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh sage plus 1 tablespoons freshly chopped sage
3 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 oz (one small log) goat cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the Crumbs:
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 lb Lasagna sheets

Equipment: 9 X 13 baking dish, sprayed with grease

1. Cook the Pumpkin: In a large pan, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat and add the pumpkin. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the pumpkin is completely soft and mashed, about 20 to 30 minutes.

2. In the meantime, in another small pan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the garlic over low heat until just golden, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until the mixture is very soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper

3. When the pumpkin is completely cooked, add the onion mixture to the pumpkin, and cook for another 5 minutes, until all flavors blend together, about 5 minutes. If you have a masher, be sure to use it. Even if the pumpkin seems completely mashed and soft, you’ll be surprised how many pieces of pumpkin you may find when you spread the filling if you don’t mash with a fork, or masher. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

4. Prepare the Bechamel Sauce: Warm the milk in a small saucepan and keep in the back of the stove.

5. Melt the butter in a medium sized quart pan over medium heat. Add the sage sprigs and cook until the butter if fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the sage and discard.

6. Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and golden, about 2 minutes.

7. Carefully pour all of the milk into the butter/flour mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

8. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a tiny pinch of cinnamon.

9. Add the goat cheese and the parmesan cheese and whisk well. Taste and make sure it’s well seasoned.

10. Reserve about 1 to 1 ½ cup of this béchamel to assemble the lasagna. Mix whatever béchamel sauce you have left with the mashed pumpkin, and taste again. This is the filling of your lasagna. It needs to taste delicious!

11. Prepare the Breadcrumbs: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and toast over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the breadcrumbs turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

12. Add the herbs, parmesan, and season with salt and pepper.

13. Assemble the Lasagna: Spread ½ cup of the reserved béchamel sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with one sheet of the pasta (cut the sheet to fit your baking dish). Spread 1 cup of the squash mixture evenly over the pasta. Add another sheet of pasta, spread more squash mixture and repeat the layers of pasta and squash mixture until it fills your baking dish, leaving space for the breadcrumbs.

14. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over. You can prepare the lasagna up to 5 days ahead of time and keep it in the fridge well wrapped in film plastic. Or you can freeze the lasagna for up to 3 months.

15. Bake the Lasagna: Remove the lasagna from the fridge up to 2 hours before baking. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F and bake the lasagna until it’s hot in the center, golden all over, and bubbly on the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.