Thursday, December 11, 2008

Have Yourself a Vegetarian Christmas - Pumpkin Lasagna with Rosemary and Four Cheeses

This Pumpkin Lasagna is a gorgeous vegetarian main dish - fragrant and full of flavor. For those of you who might think to turn your nose up to pumpkin in lasagna - think squash - not pie!

Serve with green beans ( I buy the frozen haricot vert from Trader Joe's) dressed with butter, hazelnut oil, toasted hazelnuts, and shallots; homemade cranberry sauce; and a green salad with pears and cider vinagrette. The colors on the plate are festive indeed! Serve something chocolate for dessert.

Please use high quality cheeses. Inferior cheeses will render this dish ordinary.



One pound dried lasagna noodles, preferably De Cecco brand (do not use “no-boil” lasagna)


1 large can (29 ounces) pure pumpkin puree (do not use pumpkin pie filling)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2-3 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Original Blend
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mascarpone
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago
1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyère
1/4 cup creamy goat cheese
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Béchamel Sauce

1/4 cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons fresh creamy goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg


1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs mixed with ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 fresh rosemary sprigs

Heat a large stockpot of lightly salted water to a boil; fill a large mixing bowl with ice and water. Boil the noodles until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain. Transfer to the ice water. Drain the noodles well in a large colander and toss with a teaspoon of oil to keep pasta from sticking. Set aside.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat; sprinkle in the flour, stirring continuously with a wire whisk. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk; whisk in the goat cheese, salt and pinch of nutmeg. Heat to a simmer; cook, whisking often, until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with waxed paper to prevent a skin from forming, and set aside.

For the filling, combine pumpkin puree, thyme, sage, rosemary, Mrs. Dash, nutmeg, breadcrumbs, mascarpone, additional cheeses, brown sugar, goat cheese, salt, and pepper in a very large mixing bowl. Taste the filling and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Preheat oven to 375°. To assemble lasagna, spread a third of the pumpkin mixture on the bottom of a lightly greased 13“ x 9” baking pan (Pyrex or Corning Ware are fine). Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles, placed lengthwise side by side, overlapping the edges. Spread another third of the filling over the noodles; top with ¾ cup of the béchamel. Top with another layer of noodles, the remaining filling, and another ¾ cup of béchamel. Cover with a final layer of noodles and the remaining béchamel. Sprinkle with breadcrumb/Parmigiano-Reggiano mixture. Place the rosemary springs diagonally across the top. Cover the lasagna with lightly buttered Reynolds Release foil, folding the edges over the sides of the pan. Bake lasagna until heated through and bubbling, about 50 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the topping is golden brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven; cool 10 minutes. Cut into rectangles or squares.