Monday, February 28, 2011

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Lasagna

Normally when I feel like lasagna, I make a large batch of my veggie bolognese sauce, and then I simply layer it with lasagna noodles and shredded mozzarella cheese and bake it until the noodles are soft. That version of lasagna comes out great, but this time I felt like something completely different.

I tossed my cookbooks and the internet for various vegetarian lasagna recipes and finally  found Wolfgang Puck's recipe for pumpkin and goat cheese lasagna and knew that I have to try it. I used the recipe pretty much as it appears in that website, but I'm typing it up here just to add my comments and for your convenience. 
The recipe came out absolutely delicious, although I think perhaps next time I might use some more goat cheese to make its flavor more dominant.

I found the pumpkin puree at the "baking" section of my supermarket. Note that it needs to be 100% pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling (which is seasoned). If you can't get pumpkin puree, just cook and mash some pumpkin. Also, if you can't get your hands on pumpkin (I know it can be difficult to find in some places), I'm pretty sure squash will also work well here.

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Lasagna

Ingredients (for 6 main course portions):

- 1 package of lasagna noodles (if possible, get the kind that doesn't require pre-cooking. I ended up only using 1/2 package, but have a whole one on hand just in case)

For Bechamel Sauce:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter. 
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour (or for a GF version use corn or potato starch) 
- 3 cups of milk (the recipe calls for whole, but I used low fat succesfully)
- 2 oz (about 60 grams, or a few heaping tablespoons) creamy goat cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt 
- pinch of nutmeg

For Pumpkin Filling: 

- 29 oz can (about 800 grams) pumpkin puree (or pumpkin which has been cooked and mashed) 
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped 
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (you can use GF. I used Italian breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (I know, this sounds strange, but the lasagna does not come out sweet)
- 2 tablespoons creamy goat cheese (I think I will add more next time)
- 1 tbsp salt (make sure you season sufficiently, or else the result may be a bit bland)
 - 1/2 tsp black pepper

For Topping: 
-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 


0.  If you are using lasagna noodles that require precooking, cook them per instructions. 

1.Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C.  Prepare a 13X9 inch lasagna pan (33X22 cm, more or less) and spray it with nonstick spray.  Prepare the sauce: melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the flour or starch and stir continuously for about five minutes. While stirring, slowly pour in the milk. Stir in the goat cheese, salt and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Set aside. 

2. Make the filling: in a large bowl combine all of the filling ingredients. Stir thoroughly to make sure the filling is smooth and even. Especially make sure that you don't have gigantic chunks of goat cheese. Taste the filling to make sure it is appropriately seasoned. 

3. Assemble the lasagna: spread 1/3 of the pumpkin filling on the bottom of the pan (I recommend using a pan that is perfectly rectangular, if possible, to make for easy assembling). Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles. The noodles should cover most of the area of the pan and shouldn't overlap too much, but don't worry if you don't get perfect coverage. Cover the noodles with another 1/3 of the pumpkin filling and then top that with 3/4 cups of bechamel. Top this with another layer of noodles, then put the rest of the pumpkin filling and another 3/4 cup of bechamel. Finally, top with one more layer of noodles and cover that with all of the remaining bechamel. Sprinkle the topping breadcrumbs and parmesan over the top of the lasagna. 

4. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the lasagna is bubbling. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the lasagna settle for about 10 minutes. Slice into squares and serve. 


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