I’m on a roll with the pumpkin recipes this season.
I’ve made some yearly favorites (pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin French toast, etc.), and I’ve also made some new favorites, namely pumpkin lasagna and pumpkin flan. I’m saving my pumpkin cheesecake for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I also have a few more pumpkin foods I want to try making. I’m thinking pumpkin scones, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread pudding, and maybe some pumpkin granola…
Poor apples. They’re being so looked over by me this fall. Don’t worry my pretty apples, I will soon turn my attention to you as well.
Anyway, I really wanted to make something savory with pumpkin, other than pumpkin soup, and I decided pumpkin lasagna sounded pretty awesome. I couldn’t find a recipe online that I liked though, so I ended up making my own with very satisfying results.
Instead of pumpkin puree, I wanted to you slices of roasted pumpkin, so I turned to my absolute favorite pumpkin, kabocha. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but kabocha is also known as Japanese pumpkin. It looks similar to acorn squash, but with more of a small pumpkin shape with a green outer skin and bright orange flesh on the inside. It’s one of sweetest types of squash out there and very delicious. You can usually find it at Asian grocery stores and places like Whole Foods and Central Market. If you can’t find any, feel free to use acorn squash or butternut squash, but I encourage you to try out kabocha. It really is tasty.
The kabocha I sliced and baked on a baking sheet with some olive oil, dried sage, and salt and pepper until tender. You don’t have to peel kabocha (the outer peeling, more like a rind really, is edible, and tastes the same as the orange inside)
For the sauce, I made a bechamel, or white sauce. Basically just butter, flour, and milk. I cooked the butter until it browned, however, and then added some dried sage (sage goes great with most winter squashes and sweet potatoes) before adding the flour and milk.
For the cheeses, I used large curd cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese (it doesn’t really matter which you use though), grated Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (the last is amazing with sweet winter squashes and sweet potatoes). Yes, I used four kinds of cheese in this lasagna. That’s how awesome it is.
I used oven ready lasagna noodles, because they just make life so much simpler, and I topped off the lasagna with some pumpkin seeds/pepitas.
This is a vegetarian dish, but not really what I would call a “light” dish. It’s a nice change from regular lasagna though, and a delicious treat for welcoming the Fall/Winter seasons. And it has four kinds of cheeses in it. Come on, you can’t go wrong with that. You know I’m right.
(serves 5 – 6)
- 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles (you won’t use the entire box)
- 1/2 – 3/4 whole kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 container large curd cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 c. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. whole milk
- salt and pepper
- plain pepitos (pumpkin seeds) for sprinkling on top
- Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Scoop the seeds out of the kabocha. Cut off any brown, rough spots on the outside of the squash. Thinly slice the kabocha about 1/2 centimeter in thickness, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add 1 tsp. dried sage, and add dash of salt and pepper on top. Toss the slices to coat them. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and egg. Mix everything until well combined.
- In a skillet or saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 1 tsp. dried sage and continue cooking the butter just until it starts to brown. Sprinkle in the flour, mix until a paste forms, and continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes (you want to cook the flour, but you don’t want it to brown). Gradually pour in the milk, a little at a time, while whisking vigorously. Raise the temperature to med-high, and continue whisking until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. Remove from heat, and season with salt to taste.
- In a deep, 2 quart casserole dish, add a little bit of the sauce, and spread it around the bottom of the dish evenly. On top of that, layer lasagna noodles, half of the kabocha slices, half of the cottage cheese mixture, 2/3 c. of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 c. of the Gorgonzola cheese. Repeat with noodles, sauce, the remaining kabocha slices, the remaining cottage cheese mixture, 2/3 c. mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c. Gorgonzola cheese, noodles, the last of the sauce, the last 2/3 c. mozzarella cheese, and then sprinkle with pepitos.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400° F for 20 – 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 – 20 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes before serving.