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Can be made ahead of time.
One of the questions I am asked most often is how do I come up with recipes? The answer is simple: greed. When I’m not eating, I’m thinking about what I might want to eat, and the notion of pumpkin lasagne came into my head when speculo-salivating, and it found its way from my head to my kitchen and to my stomach with gratifying ease.
This is an easy lasagne to make in that, unlike a traditional meat one, there are not two sauces to do in advance. I simply cook the pumpkin earlier and layer it up with fresh lasagne sheets (bought from the supermarket) that don’t need pre-cooking and an easy cheese and egg mixture.
Don’t be put off by the length of the recipe that follows. It takes longer to explain than to do!
To make the pumpkin filling:
1. Heat the oil and butter in a shallow Dutch oven or cast-iron braiser and fry the sage leaves over a gentle heat for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan and fry very gently for another 10 minutes or so.
3. Add the pumpkin pieces, turn well in the oniony oil and, after about 5 minutes, add the vermouth (or wine), the water and diced tomatoes. Simmer, covered, for an hour, stirring occasionally so the pumpkin cooks evenly. Taste for seasoning – I tend to add quite a bit of salt here – and leave to cool.
For the tomato sauce:
1. Simply pour the tomato sauce and water into a large jug or bowl, and stir in the sugar, salt and pepper, whisking it all together.
To make up the cheese layer:
1. In a separate bowl beat the goat’s cheese and ricotta with the eggs, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F, slipping in a large cookie sheet as you do.
3. To assemble the lasagne, begin by putting 2 cups of the cold tomato sauce in the bottom of a roasting pan (measuring approx. 14 x 10 x 2 ½ inches).
4. Then layer with a third of the lasagne sheets, overlapping them well (Italians do it with the pan horizontal but the pasta vertical, if that makes sense, but I don’t know that it truly matters…). Leave the rest of the tomato sauce aside for the time being.
5. Layer a third of the pumpkin filling over the lasagne, and dollop on a third of the cheese mixture, coaxing with a rubber spatula. It won’t cover completely; think more of spreading blobs about. Then start again with a layer of lasagne, followed by pumpkin, then the cheese. Repeat once more – lasagne, pumpkin, and the last of the cheese mixture.
6. Pour the remaining cold tomato sauce over, letting it sink down and be absorbed in the layers.
7. Slice and chop the mozzarella and dot over the top.
8. Bake in the oven, on the cookies sheet, for 1 hour. Once baked, take it out of the oven and let it stand for 15-30 minutes to make cutting and serving easier. (I love when it’s stood for an hour or so, too.) As you cut and slice, you will notice a shallow tomatoey cheesey pool at the bottom of the pan; bread dunked into this is gorgeous.
9. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the lasagne, and cut into squares to serve.
MAKE AHEAD TIP:
Up to 2 days ahead, make the pumpkin filling, leave to cool and keep covered, in the refrigerator. Make the cheese layer and keep, covered, in the refrigerator. When ready to use, assemble the lasagne and cook as directed.
FREEZE AHEAD TIP:
Cook, cool and freeze the cooked pumpkin for up to 1 week. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to use, assemble the lasagne and cook as directed.
Nutritional information is based on 15 servings and 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.