As pumpkin season has ended for us here in Sicily, I was still able to find a late bloomer sitting so beautifully at the vegetable and fruit stand where I shop near my home. I was excited to see it because I wanted to make a pumpkin lasagna but had feared there for sure there would’nt be any left in season. So alas, when I found my pretty pumpkin she sat gloriously near my kitchen window as I salivated thinking how I was going to cook her up the next day! Now, you must know, my husband doesn’t like pumpkin. In fact, he once told me we wasn’t ever going to eat it. So with a challenge ahead of me, I was going to get him to like eating pumpkin if it was the last thing I do! Why? Because pumpkins are very nutritious and healthy. Not to mention delicious if you know how to cook it =) So needless to say, I went into my cooking lab (kitchen) in search of an Italian dish which can include pumpkin….and voilà, my pumpkin lasagna was born! Not only did my husband enjoy it, he even asked for seconds! Ahhhh, the thrill of victory =) So come in the kitchen and I’ll show how easy it is to make a delicious pumpkin lasagna you probably never thought possible.
Maestro, the ingredients please!……
– 2 to 3 cups of pumpkin purée (fresh)
-2 to 3 cups of bechamel sauce (home made or store bought)
-1 pkg of dry lasagna
-2 to 3 cups of Italian sausage or shredded pork meat (If using pork meat, you will need 1\2 lemon, olive oil, and 4-5 pieces of garlic)
-2 cups of Italian sharp cheese
-Dry or fresh sage and salt\pepper to taste
If using a fresh pumpkin, you’ll need to cut it up in chunks, removing all the inside seeds and strands, as well as the peel.
Place the chunks in a stock pot filled a third of the way up with water (optional: add a bay leaf) and boil on low until fork tender. Drain the water (….or you can store it in the fridge for another use. My 14 month old loves when I flavor her oatmeal with it =) Mash the pumpkin and set aside.
Next, if you are using sausage, cook the sausage in a bit of olive oil and set aside. If you are using fresh pork meat, remove any fat\bones and place in a skillet. Add 1\2 of the garlic, a couple of bay leaves (optional), olive oil, lemon juice, and salt\pepper. Cook, covered, on medium low until done. Discard the bay leaves.
You can now shred the meat by hand, or you can do what I do: Place the meat in a mixer and mix at the highest speed (of course moving gradually from the lower speed to the higher!)
In about 2 minutes, the meat should be nice and shredded. Set aside.
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the lasagna until just below al dente. Drain and QUICKLY separate each noodle, placing them on a kitchen towel, to prevent them from sticking to one another. If making your own bechamel sauce, now is the time to prepare it. (…don’t mind my stained kitchen grates…we’ve been through a lot together! Besides, as they say in the United States, “Never trust a skinny chef”…I say in Italy “Never trust spotless grates!” =)
Next, take the sage (if fresh, dice it finely) and add it to the pumpkin purée along with a drizzle of olive oil, remaining garlic (grate it using a cheese grater), and salt\pepper to taste. Add the bechamel sauce to the pumpkin puree and mix well. Set aside again.
Begin layering the lasagna: Place a bit of sauce at the bottom of an oven proof tray. Next add the lasagna noodles, followed by more sauce, meat, then cheese. Repeat for as many layers as you would like.
I had some left over fresh sage, so I added it as garnish.
Place in a preheated oven at 180°C \ 350°F for about 30-45 minutes or until nice and golden. (Ahhh, isn’t she a beauty?? Come to mamma!)
Now go ahead and give it a try…I’m sure you’ll love it!
For more delicious recipes, be sure to check out my new eBook “Cucina Siciliana” filled with lots of truly authentic recipes given to me by family and friends here in Sicily….it’s only 99 cents!
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