For the Love of Pumpkin

Fall means comfort; it means things to warm you up, like soup and classic pasta dishes; it means nights in. Bright summer foods resembling the sun in which they grew are replaced by autumn’s changing colors of red apples, yellow root vegetables, and orange pumpkins. Italians are especially aware of the seasonality or stagionalita’, of ingredients, as the shift in market produce dictates a change in dishes served. In America fall seems to bring out all the pumpkin recipes. Here’s a way you can incorporate your love of pumpkin with your skill for Italian cooking.

The recipe below is sure to warm your insides and make you want to break out all your fall decorations.

Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

1/2 cup half-and-half cream

1 teaspoon dried sage leaves

Dash of pepper to taste

9 no-cook lasagna noodles

1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a small skillet, saute the mushrooms, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil until tender; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, cream, sage, pepper and remaining salt.

Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 11×7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles (noodles will overlap slightly). Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of mushroom mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce.

Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.  Serves 6

Pro Tip: Save Time

Freeze option: Cover and freeze unbaked lasagna. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake as directed, increasing time as necessary to heat through and for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°.

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