Friday, January 02, 2009

Pumpkin Lasagna

Ever since I started cooking I've eaten a lot of squash, which confuses my parents since they never cooked them when I was growing up. (Squash is my form of rebellion.) In Seattle I've met lots of new squashes, like the delicata, which is my favorite for its creamy, dense, sweet flesh. But this post is about the pumpkin, and the lasagna that Lindsay and I made from one. I used Mark Bittman recipes for the pasta and the Béchamel sauce.

The pasta:
  • 1/2 pound spinach
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs

Put the spinach in boiling water and cook it till it wilts (about a minute and half). Run cold water over it to cool it down. Pick it up and try to squeeze all the water out of it. Then chop very finely, or put it in a food-processor and puree it.

Mix up the flour and salt in a large bowl. Crack an egg and mix it in. Add some spinach. Repeat with the other eggs, incorporating the spinach as you go. Once you've added all the eggs and spinach, try to form a ball of dough, adding a little bit of water if necessary (it almost certainly will be, but you'll probably only need a tablespoon or two). Once you've gotten the dough together, roll it out as thinly as possible, and cut into appropriate strips for lasagna.

The Béchamel sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 tbs. flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk

Heat the butter in a small pot. When it's done foaming up, add the flour and cook over low heat, whisking. When the flour is light-brown, start adding the milk gradually. Whenever the sauce looks thick, add some more milk, stirring with a wooden spoon the whole time and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. You can turn the heat up a little bit while you do this. After 15-30 minutes, you should have a thick sauce, and you're done.

Everything else:

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin
  • 1 pound of mushrooms (we used hedgehogs and black trumpets)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs. butter, plus a bit more for greasing the pan
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg

Cut the pumpkin in half, take out the seeds, and roast at 375 degrees till it's very soft, about 1 1/2 hours. Scoop out the flesh and season it with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Cook the mushrooms in the butter and olive oil over medium heat with some salt and pepper. Cook until all of the exuded mushroom water has evaporated, and then let the mushrooms brown a little bit.

Boil water and cook your pasta for a minute or two.

At this point, everything is prepared and you just need to assemble the lasagna. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a pan with butter and put strips of pasta on the bottom of the pan. It's okay if they overlap a bit (or if they don't). Put down a layer of pumpkin, a layer of mushrooms, a layer of Béchamel, and a layer of cheese. Put down another layer of noodles and repeat the whole thing two or three times. End with a layer of pasta, Béchamel, and Parmesan. Bake this for thirty minutes (or until it starts to bubble). Let it rest for at least 10 minutes, and serve.

Here's the first layer of the lasagna:

And this is what it looked like after it was cooked:

Thanks to Lindsay for the pictures.


Rosanna said...

Have you ever tried the "sweet dumpling" squash? It's a ravishing little delicata relative. Say those last two words aloud -- almost as fun as eating the sweet dumpling, roasted till buttery. (Con: you can't eat its skin).

Lasagna looks magnificent.

Toby said...

No, I've never had sweet dumpling squash. I just found a picture and it looks like a delicata but round.

I have a cooking inquiry for your blog that I'll email you separately.