Pumpkin Goat Cheese Lasagna
Fall is here! Which to many of you will mean wonderful running weather and PUMPKIN EVERYTHING! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread. The list goes on and on! I’d like to offer you a pumpkin recipe to celebrate the season that isn’t sweet but rather is savory, unique, and tastes like fall. Pumpkin spice isn’t for everyone- if you aren’t a fan, don’t let that stop you from enjoying pumpkin in a different way!
Let’s start by discussing pumpkin itself. Do you realize that the stuff you buy in a can (pumpkin puree) actually comes from the same pumpkin that you carve up and put in front of your house? Sometimes I am not quite sure if people put that together in their heads! The pumpkin I use for this recipe is fresh pumpkin- so much more flavorful and very easy to find this time of year. You can find pumpkins at a pumpkin patch, at a farmers market, a ton of roadside farm stands, and even at the grocery store. Do yourself a favor and pick one up to bake- you will not regret it! I pick up 1-2 smaller pumpkins each year, bake them off, then freeze the puree in 1 cup portions to use in recipes throughout the year. It’s easy and has such a better flavor and texture than the canned stuff.
And now for some lasagna talk. Labor intensive, but so worth it. The layering of lasagna truly is an act of love that you do for your loved ones, friends, and yourself. Here are some general lasagna tips I have learned to set you up for success:
- Don’t cook your lasagna noodles all the way as the package directs you to, or they will become mushy & overcooked as you bake the lasagna.
- Right after you strain your lasagna noodles, lay out some parchment paper and use a kitchen tongs to lay the lasagna noodles out flat. Because you aren’t cooking the noodles all the way, if you let them sit in the strainer while they cool (and you prep the rest of the components), they will retain the shape they are in. To have flat lasagna noodles to layer, you need to lay them out flat while they are still warm.
- When baking, place your lasagna on a sheet pan covered in foil for easy clean up. About 90% of my lasagnas end up spilling out the sides as it bakes, and the sheet pan makes it so it doesn’t get all over the oven.
- Lasagnas do not have to be made in 9×13 pans. I have a family of two, and a 9×13 pan of lasagna is simply too much lasagna for us. I make mine in a loaf pan, which comfortably feeds 4!
Pumpkin Goat Cheese Lasagna
2 cups pumpkin puree (recipe to follow)
8 lasagna noodles (plus 1-2 extra, just in case)
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk
½ med onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
8-10 oz. fresh spinach
¼ tsp nutmeg
1.5 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella
4 oz goat cheese
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- Preheat oven to 375
- Get a pot of water boiling, salt the water, and add the lasagna noodles. You will only want to cook the noodles for about 5-6 minutes before straining & laying flat.
- While the water is boiling/noodles are cooking, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a high sided skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes.
- Add all the spinach and cook until it is wilted down, about 4 minutes. Season with ½ tsp salt, mix in the fresh sage, then place spinach mixture into a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter.
- Add 2 tbsp of flour and continually whisk for 3 minutes. The goal here is to get the roux (flour & butter mixture) toasted and lightly browned, but if you do not whisk it will burn.
- Lower heat to medium low and whisk in the 2 cups of milk. Add the bay leaf.
- Continue to cook on medium low heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture has thickened. The time this takes seems to change each time- it can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on how high your heat is. (Note: don’t turn the heat past medium-low and be sure to whisk frequently, or you run the risk of the sauce curdling). You’ll know your sauce is done when it is thick & coats the back of a spoon.
- Season with remaining salt, pepper, and the nutmeg.
- Remove the bay leaf and whisk in the pumpkin puree. Taste the sauce and adjust your salt seasoning (I added a little here).
- In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and whipped egg together.
- To create the lasagna:
- In a loaf pan, ladle the pumpkin sauce so that a layer covers the bottom of the pan. You don’t want to skimp here- this is what prevents the lasagna from sticking to the bottom.
- Put down a layer of noodles- two noodles, side by side (will slightly overlap lengthwise), trimmed so that they are the length of the loaf pan.
- Layer ⅓ of the ricotta mixture, 1/4 of the goat cheese (crumbled), then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Just add a light layer of mozzarella- you don’t want an obnoxious amount of cheese or you will end up with a sloppy mess.
- Layer ⅓ of the spinach mixture.
- Put down a layer of noodles.
- Ladle sauce all over the noodles.
- Repeat steps 3-6 two more times.
- On top, for the final cheese layer, sprinkle with mozzarella, remaining ¼ goat cheese, and some more grated parmesan.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove foil, bake for additional 25 minutes.
- Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes before slicing, then enjoy!
Fresh Pumpkin Puree
Time: 15 minutes active, 1 hour total
1 small pumpkin
Small amount of water
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Clean out the insides of the pumpkin: Cut the top off, similar to if you were to carve the pumpkin. Cut the entire pumpkin in half, lengthwise, and then scoop out the strings and seeds (I always reserve the seeds to roast).
- Cut the pumpkin halves into quarters (so you end up with 8 total pieces of pumpkin), and lay on a parchment paper lined baking sheet so that the skin is facing down.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the flesh.
- Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle it. Scoop pumpkin flesh out of the skin, and puree the pumpkin flesh in a high power blender (Vitamix) or food processor. You may need to add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the pumpkin mixture will puree.