Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Lasagna

It doesn't get much more Fall-ish than pumpkin lasagna!  It's a warm, snuggly dish that over the years has become a must on my cooking to-do list when the leaves start to change.  The preparation is very easy and requires minimal cooking.  I happen to be a user of no-boil lasagna noodles.  Though they lack the toothier texture offered by the ruffles of the traditional variety, I think they're just fine.  The fact that their use eliminates the requirement to wash a (big) pot makes it well worth it in my opinion.  

This started as a low fat, low salt recipe.  Unfortunately, as such, it seriously lacked flavor.  So I've made some changes over time and will provide the recipe as I prepare it.  I've never tried it with the dried sage the recipe calls for.  Fresh is so much better that I just don't keep the dried stuff around.  Thyme, dried or fresh, is another great alternative. 

Pumpkin Lasagna

1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil
16-oz can pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup half-and-half
Herbs (Options: 2 tsp chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
9 no-cook lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cups reduced fat ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a skillet, saute mushrooms, onions and 1/4 tsp salt in oil until tender; set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, cream, herbs, pepper and remaining salt.  Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 11x7 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Top with three noodles.  Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce to the edge of the noodles.  Top with half of mushroom mixture, 3/4 cup ricotta, 1 cup mozz, and 1/4 cup Parm.  Repeat layers.  Top with remaining noodles and sauce.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Parm, and bake for 10 minutes longer.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
I also wanted to share the apple pie result from Fall Marathon.  I've tried a number of pastry recipes, and I've found Barefoot Contessa's to be the most delicious, as well as the most fool proof!  She uses a food processor, which makes it easy and fast.  I know pastry can be stressful. The best bits of advice I can give are to use super cold ingredients, don't dawdle (so those ingredients stay cold), and keep the pastry moving while you're rolling it out.  Give it a quarter turn with every roll; this gives you a nice circular result and also ensures that you'll be able to pick it up at the end!  This is kind of a weird thing to say, but I swear dough seems to sense nerves...kind of like a horse.  It never fully cooperated with me until I stopped being scared of it and took the position of authority.  Back to the recipe - I actually don't make the innards of her Barefoot's pie, since I think her quantity of citrus is a bit overpowering.  So I combine the techniques of my two fave gals and use Barefoot's crust and Marth's filling. 

Perfect Pie Crust:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

I use this recipe as a guideline for the filling. 

The BEST part: 
kids in bed....warm slice of pie....mound of vanilla ice cream....husband....pj's.....couch....
funny tv show.


Courtney said...

that pumpkin lasagna sounds awesome - definitely adding this to the October repertoire of dinners.

sallies2120 said...

I actually experienced the exact same "the BEST part" myself last night. Now THAT'S the perfect recipe for a cool, fall night! :-)

Joanna said...

Do you think that, if you're as lazy as I, you could just top some frozen/refrigerated cheese ravioli with the pumpkin sauce and some of the sauteed veggies...and extra parm? I dunno. Wonder what would be the best method of warming the sauce? YUUUUUMMMMM! I love all things pumpkin.

Emily said...

Love this idea, Jo. Brilliant! After the veggies have sauteed, I would slop the sauce right on top of them in the pan and give it a few stirs to warm it through. This would be easy to make/freeze ahead too. Let me know if you try it!

Courtney said...

Made this for the fam this weekend and even my picky-eater dad enjoyed it. Will definitely be making this again in the future - thanks for the recipe!

Rebekah said...

You have de-mystified making pastry crust. And some Marine aviators are benefiting from your skills. Thanks for supporting the troops!

My chicken pot pies are totally getting amped up next time with this.

Rebekah said...

Also, can I just say that when I read your comments about the apple pie and ice cream I totally added the ingredients to my grocery list...hence the motivation for my pastry endeavor!

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