So last Friday, I had a craving for lasagna. Instead of going down to Little Italy and getting a piece from one of my favorite restaurants there, I decided it would be more fun to make my own. Afterall, it has been quite some time since I made it for myself, mainly because lasagna is not something that can be made in a single portion. I began searching through numerous lasagna recipes for inspiration. One thing I must note is, with the exception of my grandma's family recipes, I rarely stick to a recipe. For me, they lay the foundation to release my creativity through food. Recipes provide me the basic ingredients and cooking conditions. The rest, I leave up to imagination. One particular lasagna recipe that I came across jumped out at me in my search...pumpkin lasagna. Perfection for my foundation seeing as my favorite fall flavor is pumpkin (yes, I also am hard at work tasting various pumpkin beers, lattes, muffins, etc etc to blog about in the future). So here is how pumpkin infused itself into a familiar Italian favorite.
For my sauce, I made red sauce of tomato sauce, Zinfandel, basil, and various other spices. The thing I love about making sauces is they allow you to season to your liking. One herb I always find myself using in sauces and Italian cooking is basil. There is something about the sweetness that really brings out the tomato and pulls together a nice pasta dish or pizza. But enough of my basil bias and on to my cheese filling. Here is where the pumpkin and "autumn-ness" comes in. I used a blend of romano, ricotta, and mozzarella cheeses and one small can of pumpkin puree (like you would for pumpkin pie). Now be careful when buying your canned pumpkin because on the shelf right next to pumpkin puree is pre-made pumpkin pie filling. This layer I seasoned only with cinnamon. Next time, I may also add a dash of nutmeg hoping to bring out the pumpkin a little more. Now one thing I love about making lasagna is the freedom to build it however you want. I chose to also add zucchini which was sauteed in garlic and sweet onion, and baby portabella mushrooms. When you make this, you can add meat, sausage, other veggies, or just more cheese. After topping with more of the shredded mozzarella and romano and a light sprinkle of fresh basil (there's that basil bias again), a half hour or so later, my craving was fulfilled. I served it with acorn squash that was baked with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar, and a piece of ciabatta along with a glass of the Zinfandel. The perfect comforting fall meal for a slightly chilly September Sunday evening (after a tough Browns loss too). With that being said, the leftovers I packed for lunch are calling me.
Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill you hunger.