Thursday, December 9, 2010

Awesome pumpkin lasagna!

When I saw this recipe of a lasagna that was layered inside of a pumpkin, I was amazed. It looked so delicious! I immediately thought it was the kind of recipe I would admire from afar but never try to put together myself. THEN I saw sugar pumpkins on sale at NOWBC, and I decided to go ahead and try to make the lasagne myself. The rest is history.

I made a few substitutions, and ended up with not quite enough filling to fill my pumpkin to the top, but it turned out really good:

My very own lasagna layered inside a pumpkin! And it tasted great. Here is the recipe I used (tweaked to provide more filling that would actually fill the pumpkin next time), slightly adapted from the original recipe:


1 med sugar pumpkin, about 9 inches in diameter, mine was about 5 lbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ginger (big pinch)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (big pinch)

For the mushroom filling:
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 shallot, diced (or 1/2 onion, diced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
1 cup portabello or crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme (could use sage instead)
1/4 cup white wine (or marsala wine, or vegetable stock)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
approx. 2/3 c. pumpkin puree (made from the flesh of the roasted pumpkins)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound sunchokes (jerusalem artichokes), cleaned and diced into 1/2 inch dice -- (can substitute 12 chestnuts, diced, or 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped)
1 yellow or green zucchini, washed and sliced thinly
7 lasagna noodles, cooked and sliced in half (I always make a few extras in case I make a mistake)
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

For the bechamel:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (I used 1% and I wouldn’t recommend using anything with less fat than that)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Begin by preparing your pumpkin. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and dry your pumpkins, then cut off the tops. You can save the tops to use as a garnish when you serve, but it’s not necessary. Scoop out the seeds and membrane, and either discard or keep the seeds to use to make roasted pumpkin seeds.

2. Rub the insides of your pumpkin with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon ginger. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft and the flesh is easy to scoop out.

3. Scoop a little flesh out of the pumpkin, but leave enough so that the pumpkin remains firm enough to support the lasagna you are going to bake inside of it. You should get about 2/3 cup of flesh. Mash up the pumpkin flesh as much as possible. Set the pumpkins and the puree aside.

3.5. Next, if you are using Sunchokes, you'll need to cook them. Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a frying pan on medium, and add in the diced sunchokes. Cook 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until brown on most sides and tasting good. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sunchokes never really get soft like potatoes.

4. Now, make your mushroom filling. Begin by melting a tablespoon of butter in a small pot or pan, then add in your diced shallot. Cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, cook for a minute or two, then add in the mushrooms, and cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes, until softened. Add in the sprigs of thyme or minced sage, then add in the 1/4 cup of wine and cook over medium heat until the wine has mostly evaporated, another 8 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for a bit.

5. When the mushrooms have cooled, remove the stems from the thyme. Place the mushroom mixture in a bowl along with the ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, sunchoke or nuts, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and taste, seasoning as you see fit. Set aside.

6. Now it is time to make your bechamel sauce and cook your lasagna noodles. Boil your water for the lasagna noodles, and cook them according to package directions. You can leave them in the water, off of the heat, for up to 10 minutes while you are assembling.

7. Melt your tablespoon of butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, then add in the tablespoon of flour and whisk until combined. Do not let the roux brown or you will have to start over. Add in the cup of milk, whisking the whole time, then turn up the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and continue to whisk while you turn the heat down to medium-low, bringing the bechamel to a simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until reduced and thickened.

8. Now, assemble your lasagna. Start by placing half of a lasagna noodle at the bottom of your roasted pumpkin. Top with a dollop of your ricotta mixture, followed by some sliced zucchini, a teaspoon of bechamel, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Layer another noodle on top, then another dollop of the ricotta mixture, zucchini, bechamel, and Parmesan cheese. Continue until you’ve reached the top of your pumpkin. Be sure to press the mixture down every so often so that you can make as many layers as possible. I did about 4 layers in mine. For the last layer, lay down a lasagna noodle, then top with the remaining bechamel and Parmesan cheese.

9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or so, until the cheese is bubbling and the filling has heated through. Serves 3-4, depending on how much you plan to eat.

Mahesh loved this recipe so I wanted to be sure to blog it before I forgot how I made it. It was time consuming but I think worth it, especially for a semi-special occasion. Or, in this case, Thursday. Also, it's not too unhealthy as far as lasagna goes. And, besides, how cute is that:


--- added on Jan 17 2012 ---

Okay, so I was making this and overcooked the pumpkin so it collapsed. SO I layered it all into a traditional lasagne and it was great! For that I did 2 layers of noodles (8), at least double the mushroom mixture, and 1.5 cups of bechamel. Probably a bit more parmesan too. Delicious! Even better than in the pumpkin because there's more other stuff, IMO.