Autumn Recipes
Comments 4

Butternut squash and Ricotta Lasagne

Italians – wow they know how to transform fresh produce into a dish fit for a King. It was on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago that I discovered an Italian dish that had hit the nail on the head when it comes to serving pumpkins. Pumpkins have somehow always eluded me. I love their colour. Their quirk, folksy shapes appeal. They look like they’re brimming with the good stuff. I really want to get to know pumpkins and feel as though we could have a beautiful relationship – but somehow their flavour overpowers the whole meal and I just haven’t learned to love them in a way I feel I should.

Sweet pumpkin pie…roasted pumpkins…pumpkins soup….regardless of method the overbearing taste of pumpkin always slams through and puts me off this wholesome looking vegetable. Until that is I had the good fortune of attending a friend’s wedding in Italy. On the buffet-table was a plate of pumpkins wrapped in a fine filo pastry. They tasted divine. What had the chef done that I had not to transform a rough, in-your-face, flavour into a culinary master-piece?. The chef was not around to ask and, in any case, I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate at a friend’s wedding to head into the kitchen to unearth his or her secret.

When I got home I decided ricotta was the secret ingredient. Result. The combination of ricotta and pumpkin is truly a match made in heaven. It is so worth a try and very, very simple to prepare. An alternative to layering the pumpkin puree in lasagne is to squeeze the puree into cannelloni and bake them in the oven in a cheese sauce. Or to spread them in a plain wrap and bake in the oven.

I think it is also only fair to point out at this stage that strict adherents of a traditional diet spurn pasta. Yes. Hard to believe but they do. Probably for good reason. Most pastas are made from unsoaked or unfermented durum flour – a form of flour that is brilliant for pizza dough’s and pasta but one which is high in protein. That all said if you eat pasta only once or twice a week and mix it with plenty of other fresh produce it is probably unlikely to cause too much harm. Eating pasta every day for a long period of time, tempting though that is, may cause problems for those sensitive to high-gluten grains.

But let’s not get bogged down with whether pasta is or is not the devil’s own invention …. just enjoy this warm, delicious bake that pleases the family.

Ingredients

2 butternut squashes (or any small pumpkin).

1 pot of ricotta.

1 onion.

Salt & Pepper

Spinach Lasagne

For the béchamel sauce

A large pat of butter.

1-2 table-spoons of either arrow-root or plain flour.

1 litre of milk.

Grated cheese.

Directions

Place the butternut squashes in a baking-tray and bake in an oven for around 60-90 minutes (until soft).

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I love the colour and shape of these butternut squashes – they resemble loveable characters from a children’s story book or television series!

Once they are soft scoop out the flesh of the butternut squash and discard the skin and seeds.

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Fry the finely cut onion in some butter and olive-oil and add the flesh of the butternut squash.

Add the ricotta cheese and stir into the mix.

With a hand-held blender whisk the mixture into a fine purée.

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When ready prepare the cheese sauce.

When the sauce is ready, spread half of the pumpkin and ricotta purée into a baking dish and layer the top with spinach lasagne. Over the pasta pour half of your cheese sauce. Repeat the process one more time. Let the layering begin…

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Sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the cheese sauce and place in a pre-heated over at around 180 degrees centigrade for 30-40 minutes.

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Serve with a fresh green salad and sour cream dressing.

4 Comments

  1. Trui says

    Mmmm ! Much easier than the squash-lasagne I usually make but very tasty…everyone liked it !
    Only you can’t eat a lot of it, so a good salad was really necessary here.
    To thank you for the recipe, I’d like to recommend a yummie dessert-way of using the left-over butternut :-).
    Make a dough of 250g of flour, 50g of powdered sugar (=icing sugar ?), 125 g cold butter, 1 egg and some milk. Knead with your hands briefly and form a ball. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30′.
    Put 300 ml of milk with 300g butternut – mine was already tender after being baked in the oven, but you could also make cubes and let them cook till tender in the milk- 75g of sugar ( I used some brown castor (?) sugar and cane sugar) and half a teaspoon vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10′. Let it cool and then stirr 2 small or 1 big eggs in it.
    Bake the crust first without any filling for about 20′, then fill it with the sweet squash-puree and let it bake at 160° for 30′.
    We ate some leftovers from last week today and that always feels like only-half-a-meal since it is a little bit of this and a little bit of that without real ‘care’ for the menu, or so it feels to me.So as a treat we had some of this butternut dessert afterwards, it was still warm and very good !
    Maybe your family would like it too, or is this to ‘modern’ as a recipe :-)?
    Thanks anyway for yours, Trui

  2. Great! I’m so pleased you enjoyed this recipe. I agree: the tangyness freshness of the salad dressing and the flavours of the salad accompany this dish very well. I love the sound of your recipe and will definitely give it a go one of these days. Masterinthekitchen has been a bit quiet these days as I try to finish off the X-mas presents I’m making myself this year. Will hopefull have some more posts by next week.

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