Lasagna with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Recipe by Christine Vazquez

Béchamel – 4T butter, 4T flour, 4 c. milk
Can of pumpkin puree [not pumpkin pie filling]*, 15 oz.
Cottage cheese**, 16 oz.
Lasagna sheets
Whole nutmeg, grated, 1/2t
Sage, 1T
Cumin, 1t
Salt
Pepper

Make your béchamel: melt butter on medium heat [careful – butter can brown quickly if heat too high], then add – one by one – the tablespoons of flour, stirring in each until butter absorbs it before adding the next.
Then, add milk – and bring to rolling boil [you won’t know how thick the béchamel is until this stage, because it’s when flour thickens sauce fully].
Grate 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg into the béchamel.
A classic pairing, and one it needs because it is bland, by nature.
Stir in a can of pumpkin puree, and see how thick your sauce is at that point.
You can always add more milk to get it to a spoonable consistency, but the general guideline is it should coat a spoon, meaning, you dip the spoon in, then swipe the back of it with your finger, and the line will stay.
Add a teaspoon of cumin and tablespoon of sage, then salt and pepper to taste.
*I feel like a big problem with pumpkin is adding too many spices that make the flavor too overpowering.
Most recipes I see call for pumpkin pie spice, and the spices in it are strong: cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves and nutmeg.
While usually called for in sweet pumpkin recipes – even some savory ones call for ginger, cloves, and/or nutmeg.
I think it’s this that turns a lot of people off, and it’s a shame, because on its own, with salt and pepper, pumpkin is delicious.
**I prefer cottage cheese to ricotta in my lasagna and stuffed shells.
My Italian friends are coming unglued at this, as they read it, but it’s true.
Unless it’s Fruition Farms ricotta, which is a whole other thing, but which I don’t have on hand often enough.
I find it adds more moisture, is less grainy, and it’s just my preference.
I always add an egg to enrich it, plus salt, pepper, and usually a pinch of Herbes de Provence, which I feel belongs in almost everything I cook.
In your pan, put a layer of sauce first, then lasagna, then cottage cheese mixture and repeat until you have as many layers as you want and your pan will allow.
One of the joys of lasagna is all the melted, gooey cheese, but I leave it off of this, since pumpkin is the star here.
But, by all means, add shredded mozzarella and/or grated parmesan in the layers and/or on top.
I believe in complete freedom and democracy when it comes to cooking.

350* 45m covered, plus 15m uncovered

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