Gourmandistan

Harvest lasagne with pumpkin, kale and pork

Pumpkin Lasagne

Last week we were told by our CSA farmer, Pavel, that the enormous orange and green gourd he handed us was known as a Musque de Provence pumpkin. Maybe some of our francophone friends will tell us whether it should be called musque or musquée. The English language sites seem to be just about equally split, though the French sites do lean toward the side of musquée. It’s apparently also known as the “Fairytale Pumpkin,” for obvious reasons.

We can’t say exactly where it sits on the pumpkin family tree, but we can say we’re beginning to become desperate for ideas on what to do with the thing, which so far has yielded about eight pounds of squash meat along with a batch of seeds and we’re still less than two-thirds through it. We also have a number of butternuts and what we believe is a Long Island Cheese variety on our kitchen counter, with the prospect of more to come—not to mention the pulp of some of last year’s gourd crop still residing in the freezer. (The latter will, per Michelle’s wishes, probably go to the chickens.) We thought a pasta dish might deliciously deliver us from a bit of our mountain of musque/musquée, and debated between cannelloni (which we successfully made recently) and lasagne. Lasagne won, mostly because the simpler assembly allowed more latitude for our somewhat experimental filling.

We wanted to use some kale, because we also had a late-season CSA pile of that in the refrigerator. Before the cold kills it off, we felt compelled to add some of our surfeit of herb garden sage. We used Fontina cheese for a bit of nuttiness, and put in a bit of heritage pork for added umami. We enjoyed our cheesy, squashy supper very much (and had a ton of leftovers to freeze for later meals), but ended up adding salt and red pepper at the table. A bit of mildly spicy sausage may have worked better in the recipe. And, given the prospect of several more squashes to come from our CSA, we’ll quite possibly have the chance to find out before winter really arrives.

PUMPKIN, KALE & PORK LASAGNE

This recipe has a number of component parts. However, most can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until needed.

Pumpkin filling:

  • 5 lbs. pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped in rough 1-1/2 to 2″ cubes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 TB butter
  • 2 TB chopped fresh sage leaves

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place pumpkin pieces on a jelly roll pan. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for about an hour, tossing once in the middle of cooking time, until pumpkin is soft. Set aside to cool a bit.

Brown butter in a large saucepan. When butter foams up (just before it browns), add sage leaves and stir in. Add pumpkin and accumulated juices to the pan. Mash with a potato masher. If mixture is watery, cook over high heat, stirring, until liquid cooks off. You want the mixture to have the consistency of a thick tomato sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Pork and kale filling:

  • 1 lb. kale (preferably Lacinato), stems removed
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork or pork sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 or 7 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 c. chopped mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Blanch kale for 3-4 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain in a colander and shock with cold water to cool quickly. Let drain, then gently squeeze additional water out of the kale. Roughly chop.

In a large skillet, cook the pork or sausage, breaking up with a spatula. When almost fully cooked, remove meat to a plate.

Drain all but a small amount of fat from the skillet. (Or, if your pork was particularly lean, add a little olive oil.)  Add onions to skillet and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms, tossing until mushrooms are cooked. Return pork or sausage to the skillet and add chopped kale. Season to taste with salt, pepper and pepper flakes.

Béchamel sauce:

  • 1 stick (8 TB) butter
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 4 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 TB chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add flour and blend to make a roux. Cook until raw flour taste is gone. Add milk, stirring the sauce constantly until it is thick and smooth. (Use a whisk if necessary to remove any lumps.) Stir in wine, then sage. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Assembly:

  • Lasagne noodles, preferably homemade*
  • 1 lb. ricotta
  • 6 oz. Fontina cheese (preferably an Italian variety), grated
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan

Cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water until done. Drain, then place in a bowl of cold water. Lay out a clean dish towel for drying the noodles as you need them.

Smear a bit of the Béchamel sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Cover the pan with noodles (dried with a towel) in a single layer, overlapping slightly and filling in where needed with small pieces.

On top of the noodles, layer:  half of the pumpkin mixture, then half of the pork and kale mixture, then half of the ricotta, one-third of the Fontina and one-third of the Parmesan.

Add another layer of noodles, then repeat the process.

Add a final layer of noodles, then the remaining Fontina and Parmesan.

Cover with aluminum foil. (Dish can be refrigerated at this point.)

Bake at 375° F for about 30 minutes (longer if you have made ahead of time). Remove foil and bake for about 15 minutes longer, until bubbling and warmed throughout. Run under broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top.

*One batch of Steve’s homemade pasta, made with 1 cup of 00 flour and two (of our relatively small) eggs, worked for this. Roll out sheets to “5” on a pasta roller and, after cooking, cut the noodles to fit the pan. A package of bought dried lasagne can be substituted.

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51 comments

  1. Love, love your blog … and your recipes that work around what you have available, not what you can buy. I love it, too, that waste is seldom an option … even if you have enough pumpkins for Cinderella and her whole horrid step-family to go to the ball!

    • Oh, Annabel, what a sweet comment. I always tell people that it’s good that we have chickens. Because we can feed them (most of) the stuff I want to throw away, but Steve would forbid me to!

  2. I love the name ‘harvest lasagne’. It sounds so fitting, considering the ingredients and the season! A great adaptation for your mountain of pumpkin (that is possibly the coolest-looking pumpkin I have ever seen… from a fairytale indeed; I’d probably carve that thing right up until it resembled a carriage!). I’d love to try this when I get back to my kitchen. Lasagnes always seem like so much work but it’s always SO worth it when you tuck in to the cheesy, delicious goodness.

  3. valerie

    I’ve not heard of musque or musquée squash, so I’m afraid I can’t help on that one (must have left France much too long ago). But how pretty it is. And how happy it must be to have ended in that incredible lasagne!

  4. I had a huge squash a while ago, so I can totally feel what you´re going through right now – in the end, the thing felt like a sticky house guest unwilling to leave 😉 This lasagne sounds fab, I´d love to try if only my husband loved squash more than he actually does….(maybe I´ll try anyway)

    • That is a great way to describe it, Sabine! Despite a giant pan of lasagne and a pork and pumpkin stew, every time I open the refrigerator door I am confronted by what is still a giant portion of the beast…

  5. This is such a beautiful lasagna. Great photos. The sage is perfect there too. What a beautiful squash. I love its romantic name. I would probably use it for soup or just roast it as a side dish. Send some my way! 🙂

    • Sweet. Oh, despite a pork and pumpkin stew we made from a recent Bon Appetit, there is still plenty left to make soup. And to roast. And… It’s almost scary and, as Steve always tells farmers at the markets: “I’m sorry but there are only two of us!”

  6. Score! Great lasagna – wonderful Thanksgiving alternative (cranberry chutney on the side?) – followed by pecan pie. Good for you guys, even if you do have 10 pounds more of the squash to get through. Ken

  7. That is a serious pumpkin! I would totally be at a loss to do with it all (pumpkins have a tendency to perplex me a bit in the kitchen) but it sounds like you guys are off to a great start — that lasagne looks incredible. I’m a big fan of sage and fontina together too, such a great combo. Add in pork too and yum!

    • I felt guilty throwing the last quarter or so in compost pile. And, then later said: OMG we should have made gnocchi! But there are plenty more winter squash on the counter. Actually, the very last thing we made, the tried and true Paula Wolfert soup from The Cooking of Southwest France, was the best of all.

    • Thanks, Mimi! I can’t take any credit for the growing of the pumpkin. Though we do have some tiny decorative pumpkins that regrow themselves every year in the compost pile.

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