I looooove pumpkin. It is absolutely no secret that I will consume anything with pumpkin in it, be it soup, sauce or pie (my god, pumpkin pie with cream? I’m in food heaven). So when I came up with this culinary concoction I fell head over heels in love. Every single bite was like a warm burst of autumn flavours, and considering how miserable the weather has been here lately, it was beyond perfect. I know you’re all used to the classic “mince, cheese, bechamel” kind of lasagna (and god forbid if you’ve ever purchased one of the frozen variety… don’t worry, I’ll forgive you just this once) but the word “delicious” is an understatement when describing this one. A huge understatement. Make it for yourself and you’ll see the magic that unfolds.
Butternut Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Lasagna
Serves 6 (or 1, depending on how irresistible you find it)
For the lasagna
6 lasagna sheets, doesn’t matter if they’re dried or fresh
1 small to medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large sweet potato or 2 medium ones, peeled and cubed
handful fresh spinach leaves
300g ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
fresh sage leaves
For the bechamel
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp plain flour
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp dried mustard
1/2 cup to 1 cup grated tasty cheddar cheese (depending on just how cheesy you like it)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
For pumpkin & sweet potato filling:
- Preheat oven to 180C. Place pumpkin and sweet potato in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over the nutmeg, salt, pepper, cinnamon and toss until coated evenly.
- Put in oven and roast for 50 to 70 minutes (depending on your oven, as mine required 70 minutes).
- Once roasted through, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash until a spreadable but still slightly chunky consistency.
Ricotta Cheese Spread:
- Heat butter in a frypan over medium heat. Once it begins to bubble, add spring onion and garlic, cooking until the butter is browned – about 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t let it burn! You want a nice caramel colour and don’t want it to overboil.
- Remove from heat, let cool for 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with the brown butter mixture, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add in the flour and whisk until combined – you now have a roux. (if you feel it’s too liquid and needs a little more flour, feel free to add it)
- Add in the milk, whisk a little and then leave for a few minutes. The mixture will magically begin to thicken. Once this happens, continuously whisk, keeping a close eye on the sauce until you get the right, thick, gooey consistency.
- Remove from heat, stir in the cheese, nutmeg, dried mustard and seasoning to taste.
Assembling the Lasagna
Spray a large casserole dish with oil. Spread a small, thin amount of the pumpkin mixture along the bottom. Place 2 lasagna sheets on top. Spread about 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture on the sheets, followed by the spinach leaves, 1/3 ricotta mixture, and a generous drizzle of your bechamel sauce. Continue to layer the lasagna like this until you’ve used 6 sheets altogether. On the top layer sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese (and even a bit of tasty if you’re feeling up for visiting dairy heaven). Scoop the last of the bechamel on top, and sprinkle over some fresh sage leaves. Bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden, bubbly and slightly browned on the edges.