Pumpkins, pumpkins, everywhere... October 06 2015, 0 Comments

We may be the kind of people who get excited about the pumpkin craze this time of year, but, even if you tend to groan inwardly every time you see #pumpkineverything, there are still plenty of reasons to try this unconventional lasagna.

For starters, the recipe contains multiple ingredients that are rich in carotenoids—pigments created by plants that are associated with health benefits such as a reduced risk of eye disease and certain types of cancer. Both of the orange gourds in this lasagna (pumpkin and butternut squash) are rich in beta-carotene—a carotenoid that can be converted to vitamin A, which is necessary for your body’s development. Egg yolks contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which may be especially beneficial to eye health. And the overachiever of the group—spinach—contains all three, as well as iron and the vitamins A, K, and C! With the calcium offered by cheese and the protein in the walnuts, this recipe offers some wholesome goodness for your body alongside the rich, warm, full flavor that makes lasagna so desirable.

On top of all of the health benefits offered by this vegetable-laden dish, the best thing about it—for us—is the fact that all of your effort can be a direct expression of care for the people you’re feeding. It isn’t the quickest process, plenty of peeling, chopping, and layering to do, but, at the end, you’ll have a warm, delicious dinner to share with your loved ones on a chilly autumn night.

And those moments together, they’re the center of what good food does for us: it brings us together.

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Lasagna

 

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 5-6

  • 1 25 oz jar Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
  • 9 lasagna sheets
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (you can buy a whole butternut squash or, at some grocery stores, find a pre-cubed squash)
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups basil
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Pine nuts (optional)

PREPARATION: 

Spread a thin layer of olive oil on a baking sheet. Boil lasagna sheets, 1-2 at a time, and place on the baking sheet--the olive oil will help keep the lasagna from sticking. Peel butternut squash (a potato peeler works perfectly) and cut off the top and bottom ends. Scoop seeds out. Cube the squash, 1"x1" cubes will work well. Then place squash cubes in a pot with about 1/2" of water at medium-high heat. Cook for 20 minutes, or until tender.

While the squash is cooking, use a food processor to break up the walnuts--they do not have to be finely ground, but they should be broken up into small pieces. Add the basil, olive oil, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and blend. This will create a pesto.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and then thoroughly combine with the ricotta cheese. Add your walnut-basil pesto to the ricotta and mix until well blended.

When your butternut squash is tender, beat or blend until smooth, add nutmeg, and then salt and pepper to taste.

Time to assemble the layers. Add each, one on top of the other, to your casserole dish (9"x9" or 8"x8" for nice, thick pieces. If you want more pieces, you can use a 9"x13" dish, but you will have to use 4 lasagna sheets per layer instead and the other layers will have to be thinner):

  • 1/2 of the butternut squash puree
  • 1/2 of the ricotta-pesto blend
  • 1/2 jar Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
  • 3 lasagna sheets
  • 1 cup spinach (spread the leaves evenly across)
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 3 lasagna sheets
  • second half of the butternut squash puree
  • second half of the ricotta-pesto blend
  • 1 cup spinach (spread the leaves evenly across)
  • second half jar Cucina Antica Tuscany Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
  • 3 lasagna sheets
  • 1 cup mozarella
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan

Cover dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Carefully take off foil (there will be steam). If there are any spots where the lasagna is showing, add more mozzarella or Parmesan to cover. Sprinkle with pine nuts and place dish back in the oven for 15 more minutes. Remove, allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

 

Sources on health benefits:

www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-spinach

Extension.illinois.edu/pumpkins/history.cfm

lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/articles/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/carotenoids

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12134711

www.womenshealthmag.com/food/vitamin-a-foods