I had a friend who was visiting for a few days and I found out that she had stopped eating meat since the last time I saw her. On a whim, I told her that I too would give up meat. If you read my blog, you’ll notice that I’ve always loved cooking/eating meat and there are a considerable number of recipes penned here. So while the decision to do this was initially born out of curiosity to see if I could last a few days, I knew lasting more than a week wasn’t going to be easy. I don’t know how long this will last – a few more weeks? Months perhaps? Forever? I’m not really sure but for the meantime, I’m starting to enjoy the challenge of making tasty and meatless dinners.
This is one of those meatless dishes that I could happily eat everyday. Think layers of creamy pumpkin puree and ricotta in between sheets of homemade pasta – believe me – it’s enough to convert any carnivore.
A little note about the recipe – it’s very simple to put together – unless you’re like me where you want to complicate things and make your own pasta (it’s worth it though) – but if you’re pressed for time, use store bought lasagna sheets. Also, the pumpkin puree is delicious as a side dish too.
“I’m vegetarian!” I told proudly told a work colleague during drinks one day.
“Since when?” he asked.
“Wait a second,” another friend interrupted. ”Didn’t you just put that pate in your mouth?” She asked.
“Ahh… actually I still eat chicken… and sesafood.” I clarified.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna with Sage, Hazelnuts and Burnt Butter Sauce
- 1 kilo Pumpkin
- 150 grams unsalted butter plus 50 grams butter
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 400 grams ricotta
- 1 egg
- pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 recipe pasta (see here)
- 100 grams parmesan cheese
- 10 sage leaves
- 20 grams toasted hazelnuts
- To make the pumpkin puree, peel the pumpkin and diced into 2 inch cubes. Heat the 150 grams of butter in a pan and add the pumpkin once the butter is melted. Add the vanilla bean and scraped seeds and cook the pumpkin until soft enough that you can cut it with a spoon, around 20 minutes. Stir the pumpkin once in a while to make sure that the pumpkin doesn’t catch to the bottom of the pan. Once the pumpkin is soft enough, blend or process the pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
- Mix the ricotta, egg and nutmeg together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
- Grease a baking pan with some olive oil and lay sheets of cooked pasta to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer a third of the pumpkin puree and top with more of the lasagna sheets.
- Top with a third of the ricotta mixture and the cover again with more lasagna sheets.
- Now add half of the remaining pumpkin puree and cover with the lasagna sheets. Add half of the remaining ricotta and again, more lasagna sheets. Finally, spread the remaining pumpkin puree and on top of this add the rest of the ricotta. Top with parmesan cheese.
- Bake the lasagna in a pre-heated oven at 180c (fan forced) for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.
- Heat the remaining butter along in a small sauce pan until it goes nutty brown. Add the sage leaves and to crisp them up. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.
On another note, the Council of Italian Restaurants Association (CIRA) has just posted their latest class schedule for June/July/August. If you are interested in attending any of their classes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @italcira on twitter for more details.