I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Friday, October 15, 2010

From Pumpkin Patch To Table

Pumpkins give so much of themselves, they are decorative, they are fun, they are loaded with seeds for both snacking and replanting and all that glorious pulp to cook in a variety of ways.
We already have one very large pumpkin gracing our table with a beautifully carved witch all a glow by candle light. This very same pumpkin has given us golden toasted, slightly salty seeds to munch on. Now awaits the big hefty pumpkin sitting outside. This one is very heavy and extremely meaty and will be cut up and cooked down to be enjoyed in this recipe and probably several others by the size of it.

FYI- When preparing my fresh pumpkin, I like dividing the pumpkin into sections leaving the skin on. I then drizzle with a little oil and roast it at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. Then just scoop out the flesh and put it into containers and store in the refrigerator. You may also cut the flesh of the pumpkin into chunks and boil but I find the roasting brings out the natural sugar of the pumkin and imparts more flavor.

Pumpkin Lasagna

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large onions, chopped
1 can (about 4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained (sauteed fresh mushrooms, even better)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried, Italian seasoning
1 Pkg. of frozen spinach thawed, squeeze out all the liquid
2 cups of fresh pumpkin, canned works fine as well
1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese, preferably whole milk
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground, black pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup Alfredo sauce, jarred is fine
15 lasagna noodles (about 3/4 pound), cooked according to package

Cook time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and Italian seasoning, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and heat through; set aside.
Mix pumpkin and ricotta cheese in a large mixing bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper and nutmeg until well combined.
Grease the inside of baking dish with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, covering the bottom of the dish. Spread 1/4 of the pumpkin mixture over the layer of noodles and scatter 1/4 of the green mixture over the pumpkin. Repeat layers of noodles, pumpkin and greens, until you have 4 layers of each. Top with the remaining 3 noodles; spread the remaining 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce over the top. Cover with a sheet of foil and bake for 45 minutes until bubbling around the edges. Remove foil; top with remaining Parmesan cheese and return to the oven for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Let lasagna rest for about 15 minutes before cutting, the squares will hold together better.