PUMPKIN LASAGNA WITH SAGE WHITE SAUCE
Pumpkin Lasagna with Sage White Sauce with Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese is a mouthful to say and more than the best mouthful to eat that you will every find anywhere. Well, that may be a little over the top, but I want you to get the idea of just how fulfilling this dish really is.
To be quite honest, my first reaction was, “Really, do I really have to deal with all of this? What in the world am I going to do with all these pumpkins?” Let me tell you, this has been one of the most delightful few weeks of recipe developments I have ever had.
The flavor, and texture that pumpkin brings to the table has amazed me. I have used them in just about every dish that I have prepared ever since those great big baskets of pumpkins were harvested and left staring at me from the kitchen countertop.
I have created pumpkin pudding, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin biscuits (they are similar to sweet potato biscuits), pumpkin pasta with sage butter sauce, good old-fashioned pumpkin pie and the list goes on. One recipe that really hit a home run in my book is Roasted Pumpkin Salad. I adapted a recipe I developed for Bonnie Plants, Roasted Butternut Squash and Avocado Salad with Orange Dressing, by replacing the squash with the pumpkin and it turned out perfectly. The nuts, seeds, and sprouts give a crunch to the smooth creamy texture of the pumpkin/squash and avocados. I love pairing the salad with this Pumpkin Lasagna.
I have to tell you one really heartbreaking night. As I was developing this pumpkin dish, I was interrupted what seemed like every 30 seconds. Does that happen to anyone else? This recipe which should have only taken about 40 minutes prep time, turned into a few hours.
I kept having to take breaks to answer kid’s questions and put out the little “fires” that come up on days like this. Well to get to the point, I ran out of light. I wanted a great photograph of the lasagna so I put the lasagna unbaked, therefore uneaten(that is where the sad part comes in), into the refrigerator for the next day’s photo shoot and meal. May I tell you, IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!
By the way, if you bake it, you can re-warm it in a 250 degree oven the next day. Just get any moisture off the top with a clean dish towel, bake, and eat!
I tell you this story to let you know that this meal would be a fantastic make-ahead meal. If you are going to entertain, this is the meal for you. It is surprising, special, and all-together perfect! You can freeze this meal and bring it out anytime you just need something with a little extra “it” factor.
Pumpkin Pasta with Sage White Sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
For the Pumpkin Purée
2 Seminole pumpkins or butternut squash, halved and seeded
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Lasagna Sheets
1 Seminole pumpkin or butternut squash, halved and seeded
4 extra-large eggs
4 1/2 – 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
4 teaspoons semolina flour, plus more for the work surface
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
For the White Sauce
2 sticks tablespoons butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pats, plus more for greasing
10 sage leaves, plus more for serving
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
For the layers and top
3 cups mozzarella cheese
3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 pumpkin, halved and seeded, on a sheet pan and drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a fork easily pierces through the pumpkin.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven and scoop the pulp from the shell of the pumpkin to a food processor. Whiz the processor until pumpkin is fully pureèd. Remove 1 cup of the pureèd pumpkin to a small bowl and the remaining pureé in a medium bowl and set aside.
Add 4 eggs to the pumpkin pureé in the medium-sized bowl.
For the pasta, add 2 of the eggs to the small bowl containing the 1 cup of pumpkin pureé. Whisk until combined.
In a food processor place 4 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of semolina flour, salt, and nutmeg. Pulse for about 2 seconds just to combine. Add the pumpkin and egg mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the remaining 2 eggs until a dough is formed. If the mixture is moist and sticks together nicely like a dough, turn the mixture onto a clean work surface sprinkled lightly with flour and semolina flour. If it is too dry, add a few drops of water. If it is too wet, add a little flour. This dough should not stick to your hands, but just barely not sticky.
Knead the dough by using the palm of your hands and push the dough away from you then fold it toward you. Rotate the dough and continue until dough is smooth. This will probably take about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap each ball with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
For the white sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-heat. Add the sage leaves to the butter and fry them until crisp. Be careful not to allow the butter to burn. Remove the leaves to a paper towel. Slowly sprinkle 1 cup of flour over the butter and stir until combined (this should take about 2 minutes). Whisk milk and cream into the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thick, about 20 minutes, stirring consistently to keep the mixture from burning. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Remove one of the dough balls from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is at the most 1/16th of an inch. You should be able to see through it. Cut the pasta into sheets to fit your pan with a very sharp knife.
Grease a 13 x 9-inch lasagna pan or casserole with butter. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Ladle a thin layer of the cream sauce on the bottom of the casserole. Cover the sauce with lasagna noodles. Overlap the dough if necessary. Add another layer of sauce to cover the noodles, top with 1/6 of the mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat layering 5 times more, then ladle on the remaining sauce, and add the remaining purèe pumpkin (from the small bowl) randomly over the top of the casserole along with remaining cheeses.
Cover the lasagna loosely with foil for 20 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.