Pumpkin lasagna blends the flavors of the season into one hearty dish. Savory fall ingredients make a perfect vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe.
Fall is a wonderful time to tuck into a cozy kitchen and lose yourself in a great recipe. I like to think of cooking projects as culinary meditation. While you work, listen to some music that makes your heart happy, or put on a favorite old movie to play in the background. Lose yourself in the rhythm of chopping and stirring as the windows turn hazy from the steam of boiling water.
Lasagna from scratch may seem overwhelming at first. Take this one step at a time, and you'll see that each component is quite simple. You'll get the first hint of the goodness to come while sautéing the vegetables. When the nutmeg and black pepper hit your hot pan the pure autumn aroma should signal that the finished dish will be worth your labor.
The beauty of this lasagna is its combination of textures. Pumpkin is the unapologetic star of the dish. But, nestled between layers of creamy pumpkin and ricotta cheese is a medley of hearty vegetables that give this dish a balance of quintessentially fall flavors and textures.
Pumpkin lasagna is meat-less but the rich hearty vegetables should please many carnivores - I can't say all because I know it won't suit everyone, but, you may be surprised by how little you missed meat once you are finished. Diced Portobello mushrooms have a delightfully chewy texture that makes them a lovely alternative to the sausage or hamburger you are used to in a traditional Bolognese (meat sauce) lasagna. I'll go so far as to say, the meat eaters at the table may not notice the absence of animal protein on the plate if you, accidentally, on purpose, forget to tell them it isn't there.
If you are hoping to extend the season a little longer, look no further. Pumpkin lasagna is destined to become a fall classic you'll return to year after year.
- 1 pound kale thick stems removed and leaves chopped
- 1½ teaspoons salt - divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper - divided
- 1 generous teaspoon of minced dried rosemary - divided
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg - divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced (2 cups)
- 8 ounce Portabella mushroom diced
- 6 ounce carrots peeled & grated (1½ cups)
- 8 ounce zucchini grated (2 cups)
- 3 cups pumpkin puree - divided
- ½ cup part-skim ricotta
- 12 ounce fat-free evaporated milk - divided
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese - divided
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese - divided
- ½ cup low fat 1% milk
- 9 lasagna noodles
- Begin by placing the kale into a large, microwave safe bowl, cover loosely and cook on high for 2 minutes to wilt the kale and reduce the volume by about ½. Set the wilted kale aside.
- In a small bowl, blend the salt, pepper, rosemary, and nutmeg. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large frying pan. Cook the onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle over ⅓ of the spice mixture and stir occasionally until the vegetables begin to brown. Scoop the onions and mushrooms into a large dish and return the pan to the heat and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Cook the grated carrots and zucchini in the hot frying pan for about 5 minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated, sprinkle with ⅓ of the spice mixture while they are cooking. Add the carrots and zucchini to the onions and mushrooms. Return the pan to the heat and increase the heat to medium high. Add the wilted kale and sprinkle over the final ⅓ of the spice mixture. Stir the kale frequently until it has cooked down by more than half again and no liquid remains in the pan, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the kale to the vegetables and toss everything together until evenly combined - set aside.
- Heat the oven to 400F, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and have a 13x9 baking dish standing by.
- In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups of pumpkin, ¾ cup evaporated milk, ½ of ricotta, ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, and remaining spices (½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, ½ teaspoon of rosemary, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg). Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1 cup of pumpkin and ¾ cup evaporated milk. Set aside.
- Cook the lasagna noodles in the boiling water for 6 minutes. They should be rubbery, not cooked through. Drain the noodles through a colander and set the colander on a plate at your lasagna assembly station, next to the 13x9 baking dish.
- Assemble the lasagna : Pour the milk into the bottom of your baking dish. Place the first three noodles over the milk in an even layer (make noodle stripes) then spread half of the pumpkin and ricotta mixture over the noodles. Cover the pumpkin with half of the vegetable mixture and lay three more noodles over the top. Repeat the layering process with the remaining pumpkin, vegetables, and a final layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with the pumpkin and evaporated milk mixture. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes then remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.
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