Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pumpkin Lasagna

It's been a while since I've made a post here, but at least I brought you something good!

As a kid, lasagna was always one of my favorite dishes. My sister and I loved to help my mom layer the ingredients, but we could never quite agree on the ratio or the order of them. The summer before my junior year of college, when I moved off-campus (and away from dining halls), I went on a huge recipe-finding spree. I found a recipe for Florentine Lasagna on the back of a pasta box that turned out to be a total winner. Since then, I've made it countless times and it's become something of a signature dish. Normally the only thing I vary in my recipe is the cheese (all mozzarella vs. half mozzarella, half ricotta), but then I heard about pumpkin lasagna.

This past October, my mom and aunt traveled to China. She got back shortly before I came home for the weekend, and she raved about the pumpkin lasagna my aunt had at one of the restaurants on their trip (weird, right?). I had been on a bit of a squash kick, so I bought a few pumpkins when they were on sale. The first was roasted and mashed into a normal lasagna with marinara sauce — bad idea. The tomato flavor completely masked the the pumpkin flavor. My second pumpkin sat on my kitchen shelf until this past weekend, when I decided to do something before it liquified. I read up on a few recipes on TasteSpotting and FoodandWine.com to get some ideas, but eventually decided to wing it. I ended up with a very tasty lasagna that was full of pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin Lasagna

  • 1 pumpkin, roasted or steamed then mashed; or 1 large can pumpkin puree (28 ounces)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or cream
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 pound spinach, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Boil the lasagna noodles according to package directions.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic, the dried rosemary or sage, and the pumpkin puree and mix. Add 1/2 cup milk and stir, then add more by 1/4-cup portions, stirring well after each addition, until the puree is soft and easily spreadable. (Honestly, I just poured straight from the milk carton until the puree looked right. I don't actually know how much milk I added.) Add the nutmeg in; be careful not to add too much or it'll be overpowering. The puree should smell buttery and slightly spiced.

Preheat your oven to 375° F.

Once the noodles are drained and the sauce is ready, pour 1/4 cup milk into the bottom of your casserole dish. Put a layer of noodles in, then a small handful of cheese (just enough to lightly cover the noodles). Layer on half of your spinach, spreading evenly, then follow up with a little more than a third of your pumpkin puree. Cover with another handful of cheese. Repeat this process one more time — noodles, a little cheese, remaining spinach, pumpkin puree, more cheese. The final layer is noodles, remaining pumpkin puree, and remaining cheese.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the cheese is melted on top and the sauce is bubbling slightly on the sides. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


For my normal lasagna, I use a bottle of Trader Joe's marinara instead of the pumpkin puree. You can swap half the mozzarella out for 8 ounces of ricotta if you like. Mix an egg and some of your cheese (either half the mozzarella, or all of the ricotta) into the spinach.

Layering: Two spoonfuls of sauce on the bottom of the pan (to cover it), noodles, half of the spinach mix, a third of the mozzarella cheese, and a third of the sauce; repeat once. Top with the last layer of noodles, remaining sauce, then cheese. Bake as directed above.