Pumpkin Lasagne

Updated: Jun 8, 2021



Going on shift for the next two days, I was looking for something to make that would provide plenty of leftovers to make things as easy as possible. I lighted on lasagne. There was beef mince in the freezer and pasta sheets in the pantry. Easy. And then I discovered that we didn't have very many tomato tins. One in fact, and a small one at that. To go to the store and replenish, rethink the meal entirely, or improvise? I decided to improvise, and remembered that we had frozen roast pumpkin in the freezer from when pumpkins were in season. Perfect. The recipe took some tweaking to accommodate the different flavour profile of the pumpkin, but that was hardly an insurmountable challenge. To tweak the flavours, I used red onions instead of white and used some warmer spices, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, coriander and garam masala, to complement the pumpkin flavours. In order to then balance things out, red cooking wine and balsamic vinegar were splashed in. That done, assembly was quick and easy.


Also, have I mentioned that I love being able to make my own ricotta? Without any on hand, I could decide to make lasagne at the drop of a hat and have ricotta ready within 45 minutes. Hurray! I used some of the whey in lieu of other cooking liquids to keep the sauce moist enough too, so double yay! The cooking of the sauce happened slightly differently than I would normally, because Little Bit needed some wrangling. I added the tomato before the meat, but it came out ok anyway.


Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 red onions, chopped

1 head of garlic, chopped

500g beef mince

400g tinned tomato

1l (roughly 4 c) roast pumpkin

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp urfa biber

1 - 1 1/2 c red cooking wine

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 c whey (or stock, or water)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 c ricotta

1 zucchini, sliced thin.

lasagne sheets

100 g cheese to go on top (use what you wish or have on hand!)



1) Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot and sauté the onions. When they are starting to soften, add the garlic and stir for a few more minutes until fragrant.

2) Add the tomatoes and spices and stir for a few minutes. Add the meat and allow it all to simmer together until the meat is cooked. Add the pumpkin, wine and balsamic, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Taste test. If it is too thick for assembly, add enough whey/stock/water to compensate and bring it to the right consistency.

3) Begin layering: courgette, pumpkin sauce, lasagne sheets, ricotta, repeat. I only had two layers of courgette, after that I spread the sauce directly on the ricotta. I had enough for 3-4 layers, finishing with pasta, sauce and then cheese.

4) Bake at 160°C for 2 hours (we had a weird scheduling issue this evening so I left it in long and low) or 180°C for about 45 minutes.


I wrote the first part of this post while the lasagne was in the oven, waiting rather impatiently for dinner. Having now had some, I am sated and can also confirm that this worked out superbly. It is sweeter than regular lasagne, which was to be expected, and a perfect comfort food , but in a slightly different way to its more usual counterpart. I didn't add any extra butter or cheese as I normally would, but it did not need it at all. It was rich and creamy and sweet, while still remaining savoury. It would work well as a vegetarian lasagne too, and I would be tempted next time (because there will be a next time) to use additional courgette layers instead of pasta. I loved this and hope you do too! Let me know your thoughts!


Book Pairing: I was listening to Mr Midshipman Hornblower by CS Forester while making this. I am enjoying it, but it is sort of the Boys Own version of the Aubrey-Maturin series. I had listened to Dark Voyage by Alan Furst just before and had thoroughly enjoyed being back at sea. I briefly considered starting the Aubrey Maturin series over, but then decided to try out the Hornblower series instead. I am enjoying it, but I don't know if I'm enjoying it enough to listen to the whole series. We shall see. Forester's characters are much less fully rounded than I had hoped and, aside from the eponymous character, there aren't very many that appear as more than passing figures for a chapter.






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