Meat lasagna or baked lasagna is definitely a classic Italian cuisine. A few years ago I tried to make a lasagna of replacing the meat sauce with diced pumpkin because I like to experiment with old recipes using unusual ingredients. I used a very firm type of pumpkin called “Marina di Chioggia”. The combination of pumpkin sauce with classic ingredients such as pasta and béchamel has won over my family members and friends who have tasted and tested it in turn.
This recipe requires a bit of time, but I’m sure you can fit it in over the weekend when you stay at home and work in the kitchen. Assistance from your husband and children can be fun too!
We are approaching Halloween night. Why not celebrate with this lasagna, a salad, and pumpkin muffins? A table set with candles and small pumpkins and a jack-o-lantern to complement the atmosphere. The lasagna can be easily prepared the day before and cooked the day you would like to serve it.
I used Montasio cheese in this recipe, a typical product of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which goes well with the flavor of pumpkin, but you can mix any two varieties of cheese, a young soft cheese and a harder older cheese. I suggest you use ready-made fresh pasta. Of course experts in the kitchen can easily prepare the pasta dough at home yourself. Fresh pasta that is purchased, if of good quality, guarantees good results without having to spend too much time in the kitchen.
There are three types of preparation in this recipe that will be helpful in many other dishes. I will refer to them in recipes to come.
Preparation time: 1 hour | Cooking time: 40 minutes in the oven
(For 8 people)
2 packages of fresh dough
100 gr. shelled walnuts roughly chopped
For the Sauce:
1 pound (400 gr.) of cleaned pumpkin (you can use a sugar pumpkin or other small flavorful winter squash)
1 large leek
3 stalks of celery
1 garlic clove
Italian flat leaf parsley
1 cup of white wine
3 teaspoons organic granulated vegetable broth (such as Rapunzel Pure Organic Vegetable Soup Broth) or 1 bouillon cube
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
- Thinly slice the leeks (white part only) and add them to a pan to sauté, add the small cubed pumpkin, chopped celery, salt and pepper.
- In a small pot, add 3 teaspoons of granulated vegetable broth to ½ a quart of water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, add in the vegetables and a cup of white wine and let evaporate. If the sauce is too dry and the pumpkin is not cooked, use more vegetable stock, adding a ladle at a time. Avoid adding too much because it will become too runny. When the pumpkin is cooked, turn off the heat.
For the Béchamel:
3 / 4 liter of milk
50 gr. of butter
100 gr. flour
a teaspoon of nutmeg
100 gr. Parmesan
a pinch of salt
- Bring the milk to boil in a saucepan. In another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add in the flour and let it brown, stirring constantly. Slowly ladle in the milk and keep stirring. I recommend using a wooden spoon or a whisk. When the consistency is that of a thick cream, turn off the heat and add the nutmeg, salt, and parmesan cheese, mixing thoroughly. Keep 4 tablespoons of béchamel aside in a separate bowl. Pour the béchamel sauce in the pumpkin mixture and mix. You can now compose your own lasagna.
- In a buttered baking dish, arrange a layer of pasta with pumpkin sauce and finish with a layer of pasta. On this layer, spread the béchamel that you set aside, diluting it with 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Finally, on the last layer, sprinkle coarsely chopped walnuts. If you used fresh pasta, it does not need to pre-cook in water, ladle vegetable broth along the edges of the molded lasagna. This will allow the pasta to cook better and everything will stay softer.
- Cover the pan with parchment paper that has been soaked and squeezed. This lasagna has to cook without browning the surface, so you have to keep it covered while you cook in the oven. Bake in preheated oven at 400°F for 40 minutes.
For the Cheese Sauce:
¼ of milk
100 gr. cheese (Montasio) Fresh
50 gr. of hard cheese
1 sage leaf
10 g butter
1 tablespoon filled with flour
- When you begin to prepare the lasagna, cut the two cheeses into small cubes and let them soak in milk. While the lasagna is cooking in the oven, prepare the sauce.
- Add the milk, cheese, and a sage leaf in a saucepot and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
- Meanwhile pour the flour on a plate with a piece of butter. Knead the two ingredients together with your hands to form a ball.
- When the cheese has melted, forming clumps and filaments to the point that you may feel like you have ruined everything, do not despair, add the ball of flour and butter with a whisk it until the mixture has melted. Simmer for a few minutes. At this point, you will have a smooth cream.
When the lasagna is cooked, remove it from the oven and cut it into individual serving sizes. Over each portion, pour a few tablespoons of cheese sauce. Serve immediately while it is nice and hot.