Tag Archives: fall seasonal foods

Fall Pumpkin Lasagna

3 Nov

The farmer’s market is full of fabulous  fall vegetables and fruit: pumpkins, kale, turnips, pears, and butternut squash. This being Georgia, we also have the last remaining tomatoes and peppers as well. To celebrate the fall, I decided to make fall pumpkin lasagna for some friends. I had a  sage and butternut squash lasagna once and it was wonderful. This receipe is loosely based on that.

pumpkins ready for chopping and roasting

My first step was to roast the pumpkins. Well, actually, my first step was to forget the ricotta cheese at the store, which changed my plan slightly. Back to pumpkin roasting- because pumpkins are very hard to cut,  this time I tried microwaving the whole pumpkins for 5-6 minutes. Be very careful in this step. Microwaving the pumpkins for more than 5 minutes might result in exploding and/or cracking pumpkins. The pumpkins will be very hot and the stem will fall off easily.

This quick zap softened the pumpkins enough that I didn’t cut my hand off in the process of cutting them half. Scoop out the seeds for roasting later.  I rubbed a little bit of olive oil on the inside and roasted them in a 400-450 degree oven until soft (30-40 minutes?). Meanwhile, chop onions and carmelize them in a saute pan. 

Roasted pumpkin cooling on the window sill at dusk.

As the pumpkins finish roasting, begin making a basic white sauce. Melt approximately 4 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan (I set aside the carmelized onions and reused the pan. This means more flavor and less dishes to wash.) Once the butter is melted, slowly sprinkle in approximately 4 tablespoons of white flour, stirring as you go.

cooking butter and flour to make a white sauce

Cook the combination flour/butter for a few minutes, then slowly whisk in milk. I used skim milk, because that is what I had on hand. Use whatever you have in the frig. Once combined, add whatever cheese you would like. I used soft goat cheese, parmesan, and mozzarella. Remember, the cheese will thicken the sauce so if it gets too thick, whisk in more milk. Add any herbs you would like. I used oregano. Sage would be perfect with this receipe.

goat cheese melting in the white sauce

While making the white sauce, slice the kale (or other quick-cooking leafy green) into ribbons and steam the greens. Once the pumpkins are roasted and cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Add the carmelized onions, salt, pepper, and chopped basil (or other favorite herb). In  a 9×13 inch pan, layer the pumpkin mixture, the cooked kale, and sliced portabella mushrooms, putting no-bake lasagna noodles on the bottom, top, and in between each layer of vegetables. Also put a thin layer of the white sauce on top of each vegetable layer. Make sure each of the noodles is fully covered, or they won’t bake. It wouldn’t hurt to put a trickle of water in the bottom of the pan, to prevent drying. Cover the lasagna in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

The finished lasagna

a close-up of the layers of fall lasagna


Freestyle Fashion Pumpkin Soup

25 Oct

Pumpkin soup is a fantastic, warm, hearty meal for fall. My version is not sweet, but it can be adapted in many ways.  Soups are some of the easiest meals to freestyle fashion. This recipe makes roughly three dinner size portions and is awesome with some crusty bread and goat cheese.

Take three small pumpkins and cut them in half. This part is a bitch. I am a distance swimmer with considerable upper body strength, and I find it nearly impossible. Use a very sharp, thin knife, and keep your fingers clear of the work. Next time, I will be experimenting with microwaving the pumpkins whole to soften them a little bit before cutting into them. This will be delicate, because I don’t want them exploding all over the microwave. If you try this, definitely puncture the skin before attempting this.

Once you have the pumpkins cut in half, scoop out the seeds and set them aside. I microwaved the pumpkin halves for 5 minutes on high to shorten the time in the oven. Be careful- they will be hot!. Smear olive oil on the inside of the pumpkin halves and roast them in a 400 degree oven until they are soft. This may take up to 30-40-50 minutes depending on if you pre-microwaved and the thickness of the pumpkin.

While the pumpkin is roasting, slice and saute an onion in a little bit of olive oil. After about 10-20 minutes slice portabella mushrooms and add them to the saute pan. The moisture in the mushrooms will require you to stir frequently. Red or green bell peppers or chilies would be a great addition to the saute.

Remove the pumpkin seeds from the inner flesh, toss them with a little bit of salt and pepper, and spread them out on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake them in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Once the pumpkins are roasted and cool enough to handle, scoop out the inner flesh into a blender. Add several teaspoons of smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Start small and add as you blend. You can always add more, but you can never remove. Add liquid as necessary to make the blender work. I use water to keep it healthy, but stock, milk, or cream would only add more depth of flavor. Blend until completely smooth. Check spice and seasoning levels and adjust as necessary. Stir in sautéed vegetables. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds. Delicious warm or room temperature.

To freestyle this recipe, change up the sautéed veggies and spices. Curry powder or garam masala would make it sweet and spicy. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger would make it taste like pumpkin pie. Any of your favorite spices would be good on the pumpkin seeds as well. Crumbled bacon would be really good, but less healthy and not vegetarian. This time, I swirled chopped arugula into my bowl for crunch and kick.

%d bloggers like this: