While Craig was away on one of his far flung business trips recently, he sent me a text. Puh-lease…I heard you go AWWWWWWW. It really wasn’t cute in any way. His text messages are pretty much all business. Remember, this is the guy who was jetting all over the East Coast and didn’t so much as send me a text to wish me happy birthday (even when every member of his traveling party knew it was my birthday and told him he should at least text me – yes, I’m still holding a grudge over that little incident. If I did that to him on his birthday…..)
So the premise of this text message was to tell me the various dinner choices he had at some restaurant somewhere in Europe (I lost track of where he was at that point). I think he sent me about 7 different choices, as if I cared to help him pick out his dinner. About 4 hours later I received this: “they were out of pumpkin lasagna if you love me you’ll make this for me when I get home.” How about if I love you I’ll continue listening to your nonsensical ramblings and sleeping with you when you get home?
Of course, as you can now see, I fell for his thinly veiled double dog dare and made him pumpkin lasagna. Near as I can tell, this has been his lucky week. He was sick…I made him homemade minestrone soup and now this. He might be trying for the trifecta this week, but since I’m leaving town for a couple of days he’s probably SOL. For him, the trifecta would be something else food related, not sex related.
I suppose you’ve been scrunching up your nose since you saw that this was a pumpkin lasagna recipe. I kinda did that too when I first heard him talking about it. I’ve talked about my extreme dislike for pumpkin pie in some of my other fresh pumpkin recipe posts. There’s just something about the mouth feel of smooshed up pumpkin. ICK…it gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. So even though many a pumpkin lasagna recipe (yes, there are quite a few out there) calls for canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin cooked down and pureed, this one uses actual identifiable pieces of fresh pumpkin.
This is not a vegetarian pumpkin lasagna recipe. No, it incorporates some of the best parts of traditional lasagna: tomatoes (yes, trust me it really works in this recipe), cheese and spicy Italian sausage. I’ve also tossed in some more vegetables like zucchini and spinach to up the health benefits while eating this fantastic comfort food.
To make this lasagna, I merged two very different recipes and threw in a few of my own touches. I will proudly say that Craig was very happy with the results of this. While I wouldn’t call this a healthy lasagna recipe, I would say that it is a much healthier version of lasagna than you typically encounter – especially with all the vegetables in it.
Yes, it’s true…sometimes we (women) actually like to be subtle about getting even with our guys. I know, I know…this does nothing to help our sneaky reputations, but sometimes the most obvious things go completely overlooked by you guys. Let’s face it, you guys aren’t known for being the the most observant of the species.
So here’s a different way to use the tactic of subtlety. Be nice to your guy…I mean REALLY nice.
Surprise him with his favorite meal or dessert one night. The next night offer to give him a back massage while you’re watching TV. Are you with me so far? The next night let him control the remote without even the slightest hint from you that you absolutely detest watching (Jersey Shore, Pawn Stars, NASCAR, insert your own personal television hell here).
Continue doing these nice little things all week (yes, all 7 days). I promise you by about day 3 he’s going to start wondering what’s going on with you. By day 7 he’ll be begging you to tell him what he did wrong or what you need. At this point you can come out with it, but if you really want to keep him wondering, just tell him that you think he’s wonderful and you realized that you hadn’t made him feel like that in a long time.
I assure you that he will be very attentive to you (for at least a couple of days) and that he will also be begging you to return to the “normal” you.
Recipe: Fresh Pumpkin Lasagna
- 2 Pounds Fresh Pumpkin – to make 6 Cups of Diced Pumpkin (peeled and cubed into 1/2″ pieces)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion (diced)
- 2-3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 1 Pound Spicy Italian Sausage (casings removed)
- 1 Medium Zucchini (shredded)
- 1 14 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
- 1/2 Cup Red Wine
- 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
- 1 Package Frozen Spinach (thawed and chopped)
- 1 Pound Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
- 2 Cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese (separated)
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Walnuts (chopped)
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1/8 Teaspoon Fresh or Ground Nutmeg
- 1 Pound Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
- Insert a steamer basket into a large saucepan and fill to just below the basket with water. Add in the 6 cups of diced pumpkin.
- Cook over high heat for 7-10 minutes (with a lid on top) until the pieces are easily pierced with a knife. Do not cook them until they become mush.
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil and sautè the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent. Add the sausage and cook until browned (breaking it up as it cooks). Add in the zucchini and cook 5 more minutes. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan combine the diced tomatoes, red wine and chicken stock. Bring to a low boil over medium low heat. Adjust the flavor with salt and black pepper to taste. Then add the oregano and basil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer until ready to use. Stir it occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking.
- While the tomatoes are cooking….
- In a large bowl, mix the spinach, ricotta, 1 cup of Parmesan, eggs, a large pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.
- Build your lasagna in a 9×12 baking dish starting with a layer of tomatoes, a layer of pasta, a layer of 1/3 the cheese and a layer of 1/3 the sausage. Spoon a 1/3 of the pumpkin pieces in next and sprinkle with 1/3 of the walnuts. Do this 2 more times, finishing with the pumpkins and walnuts on top (it’s okay if the meat pokes through the pumpkin). Sprinkle with the remaining cup of Parmesan cheese.
- Cook for 45 minutes, loosely covered with foil.
- Remove foil and cook for 15 more minutes.
- Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. If you don’t wait for it to cool a bit, the lasagna will fall apart when you cut and serve it.
Do not cook the lasagna noodles. This will keep them al dente when the lasagna cooks. If you cook them before hand, you may get a pan of mush.
I used a Fairy Tale pumpkin for this recipe and really liked its flavor, which is slightly different than the traditional Sugar Pie pumpkin. The Fairy Tale pumpkins are the squat sort of burnished orange pumpkins that look like something out of a fairy tale. But the Sugar Pie pumpkin would work well too.
If you can’t or don’t want to mess with fresh pumpkin, you could use a couple of cans of pumpkin for this recipe. Do not use pumpkin pie filling. That’s not the same thing.
Preparation time: 25 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (General)