Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpkin Lasagna

Until recently, I didn't think of pumpkin as a likely companion for cheese, but I've come really to appreciate it's ability to pair wonderfully with all different types as of late. I know few people who can turn down a pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting, and it really holds it's own against strong cheeses like chevre or Parmesan. In this lasagna it pairs up with a classic trio - ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan - blending seamlessly with all the richness and creaminess of those cheeses. Joining all the sweetness and richness are earthy shiitake mushrooms, which give the lasagna enough savoriness and heartiness to make the absence of meat a mere afterthought. Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and although this holiday lauds a perfectly roasted turkey, there's no reason that vegetarians shouldn't have a delicious main as well. Lasagna is an automatic crowd pleaser, and vegetarians and carnivores will happily dig into this classic with a harvest-y bent. Whether a vegetarian Thanksgiving centerpiece or simply a weeknight dinner, this meal speaks to the soul of the season.

Pumpkin Lasagna
adapted from Taste of Home
serves 4 to 6

1/2 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
Dash pepper
9 oven- ready whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. In a small skillet, saute the mushrooms, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil until tender; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, cream, sage, pepper and remaining salt.

2. Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles (noodles will overlap slightly). Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of mushroom mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce.

3. Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

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