It’s October and as Autumn settles in I love the copper colours on the trees, the crunchy noise of the leaves on the pavement when you step on them, and the smell in the air and my kitchen. It’s open season for pumpkins, mushrooms, chestnuts and spices!
Pumpkin is particularly typical of this time of the year and its versatility is astonishing. It can be cooked in so many different ways and it’s perfect make savoury and sweet dishes, like my pumpkin, chocolate and pecan cake!
This week I bought a delicious Italian Delica pumpkin from Natoora, an amazing fruit and vegetables distributor, and decided to make a pumpkin lasagna for Sunday lunch. Since Delica pumpkin is a very sweet type of pumpkin, I added some mushrooms and truffle salt to cut through the sugar and add some sapidity.
You can of course use any other type of pumpkin or butternut squash for this recipe, just make sure to adjust the salt to balance the sweetness of the pumpkin
For the Lasagna
- 500gr Lasagna sheets (ready to bake)
- 1.2kg Pumpkin flesh (it is about a medium size pumpkin)
- 200gr Chestnut mushrooms
- 600gr Vegetable stock (you can use water as an alternative)
- 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 tsp Rosemary finely cut (fresh or dry)
- 3 Garlic cloves
- 75gr Soft goat cheese + 1 tbsp Almond milk (or 80gr ricotta cheese)
- 30gr Pecorino cheese (grated)
- 1/2 cup White wine (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Truffle salt (optional)
For the Béchamel
- 500gr Almond milk (or cow milk)
- 50gr Vegetable butter (or cow butter)
- 50gr Plain flour
- Nutmeg to taste
1. I used some frozen vegetable stock that I had in the freezer, however if you do not have any at hands, here is how I make mine.
I add 2 carrots, one medium potato, 2 celery sticks, 1 small onion and 4 cherry tomatoes, and about 2 litres of water. I let it simmer for at least one hour. The longer it simmers, the richer and more concentrated it gets. I then divide the stock into jars and freeze it. I also blend the vegetables with some of the stock to use them when I make vellutata or soups.
2. Warm up one tablespoon of EVOO and one clove of garlic in a frying pan. When the garlic is golden, add the mushrooms that you have previously cleaned and sliced. Cook on a medium heat until soft adding the salt and pepper just before they are ready. When cooked put the mushrooms in a bowl and set them aside to use later.
I used truffle salt to season the mushrooms for this recipe, but you can use sea salt.
3. Wash and peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut it in small cubes. Add two tablespoons of EVOO and two cloves of garlic to the frying pan used for the mushrooms and cook for one minute on a medium flame. Add the chopped rosemary and let it cook until the garlic is golden. When the garlic is golden, remove it from the pan and lower the flame. Once the oil with the rosemary cools down a little, add one ladle of vegetable stock and let it cook for a couple of minutes. This step allows the rosemary to fully release its flavour into the oil.
4. Add the pumpkin cubes to the frying pan and stir it on increasing the heat on high for few minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the white wine, if using it, and continue to cook the pumpkin for another couple of minutes until the wine evaporates completely. Add one ladle of vegetable stock, cover with a lid and let it cook on a medium flame for about 15 minutes until it is soft.
During the 15 minutes stir the pumpkin regularly and add one more vegetable stock if it needs more liquid to cook. I usually add the extra ladle as I do not want my pumpkin to be too dry.
5. While the pumpkin cooks make the béchamel.
Warm up the milk with some grated nutmeg in a small pot. Melt the butter on a medium heat in another small pot. When completely melted, take it off the heat, add the flour and whisk to incorporate the two ingredients so to create a roux. Return the roux to the flame on medium heat and cook until golden. Once golden, slowly add the warm milk to the roux and stir vigorously so to incorporate the ingredients without any lumps. Finally, let the béchamel cook for a few minutes until it thickens, then take it off the heat and set aside to use later.
Once ready always taste my béchamel and adjust it to my taste. I added some salt and I usually have a good amount of nutmeg to enhance the pumpkin flavour.
Since the lasagna sheets require some liquid to cook, make sure that the béchamel is not too thick. I usually whisk in one tablespoon of vegetable stock to make it a bit runny.
6. Stir the tablespoon of almond milk into the soft goat cheese so to create a mouse. This is my alternative to cow ricotta, since I cannot find goat ricotta in the UK.
7. Now that you have all the ingredients ready it’s time to assemble the lasagna!
To start spread a couple of tablespoons of béchamel on the base of the baking tray and cover with 4 sheets of lasagna noodles. The for sheets will overlap slightly, however you want to make sure that there is not too much past overlapping or it will not cook properly
The first layer is created by spreading a couple tablespoons of béchamel over the lasagna sheets and covering with about 3 tablespoons of pumpkin, some mushrooms, one tablespoon of the goat cheese mousse and one teaspoon of pecorino. Season and cover with lasagna sheets.
Make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed and repeat this step for each layer of your lasagna.
The quantities of the ingredients per layer depends on the number of layers you are making. The ingredients on the recipe make a lasagna with three middle layers and one open top layer.
There are a few things to note:
- My baking dish is 32cmx20cm (about 2.4L) and the recipe makes 6 good portions
- When making an open top layer, make sure you cover the whole surface with béchamel to protect the lasagna sheets
- Although the ingredients list 500gr lasagna, I did not use all the lasagna sheets in the box. I have 8 left of the 30 sheets in the box.
- The sides of the baking dish tend to become wider as you add layers, so you will need to decrease how much you overlap the lasagna sheets and you will need to add one sheet on the side. I usually cut one sheet in half and use it to fill the gaps on the side.
- When using “ready to bake” lasagna sheets noodles, you need to ensure that there is sufficient liquid in the filling to actually cook the noodles while the lasagna bakes. This is usually easily achieved when making lasagna with tomatoes sauce, but trickier when making white lasagna. My trick in these cases is to use the vegetable stock! I poured about 3 tablespoon of stock in the pan where I cooked the pumpkin to give it more flavour, then I poured one tablespoon on the top layer and there remaining 2 on the sides of the lasagna. The vegetable stock will help cook the lasagna sheets during baking
8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C Fan for 25 minutes and 200C Fan for an extra 10 minutes. once ready, take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving it.
You can freeze any leftovers. My suggestion would be to freeze them in a small baking dish so that you can defrost it and put it straight into the oven.
This lasagna is delicious and very autumnal, perfect for a family meal and a nice vegetarian dish for this time of the year!
If you want to make this recipe and share it on your social media please mention me using @prepandproperrecipes and the tag #prepandproperrecipes