Now that Fall has settled in, I find myself with an overabundance of pumpkins. It’s my own fault though. I go to the pumpkin patch and all of a sudden I have way too many pumpkins and other varieties of squash coming home with me. Then I have to cook them all. What to do with all those pumpkins? I love pie, but I really don’t want to be tired of it by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more veggies into the family diet, and pumpkin is a great option. My household will eat most any pasta dish, but I wanted to sneak some healthy greens in there too. I figured pumpkin lasagna with kale and pecan pesto was a good call.
This is my favorite time of year and I love finding new ways to use the ingredients this season brings us. I have added a classic bechamel sauce for a little richness between the layers of pumpkin and pesto. Even the pesto is a departure from the usual basil variety. Baby greens such as chard and kale make a great substitute, and the pecans provide a lovely stand in for pine nuts. You might want to make a double batch of this pesto, and save the rest for another use such as tossing with roasted vegetables or stirring a spoonful into a bowl of soup. The pancetta adds a bit of texture to an otherwise smooth filling, but it can be left out to make this a vegetarian dish.
This lasagna does take a little time to put together but don’t let that deter you from giving it a try. It makes eight servings, so it’s great for a dinner party or just for having some leftovers. If you are looking for a change from your typical thanksgiving sides I recommend serving this at your next gathering.
A Few Notes About This Recipe
- I used no boil lasagna noodles, but you can substitute another type and boil the noodles first or make your own.
- Be sure to drain your pumpkin puree if you are using fresh pumpkin, it is much more watery than canned pumpkin.
- If you can’t find Fontina cheese, a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan will work fine.
- Roasting the pumpkin and making the pesto ahead will save you some time if you can do those steps in advance. For more detailed roasting tips take a look at my post on making your own pumpkin puree. If you are roasting the pumpkin along with making the lasagna, there will be added cooking time for the pumpkin. The pumpkin and the lasagna each bake at the same oven temperature.
I hope you enjoy this lasagna as much as my family does. This recipe is such a nice change of pace from the usual pumpkin soup, and it is surprisingly light yet substantial. If you have tried this recipe, please let me know. Happy Cooking and Happy Fall!
For the Pumpkin Filling
- 6oz Pancetta, chopped
- 1 cup Whole Milk Ricotta
- 2 cups Pumpkin Puree (see notes)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Garlic clove, chopped
For the Bechamel
- 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
- 2 cups Milk
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
For the Pesto
- 2 cups Baby Kale and Baby Chard, packed
- 10 Fresh Sage leaves
- 1/3 cup Unsalted Pecans, chopped
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 1/4 cup Avocado Oil
For the Lasagna
- 10 oz No Boil Lasagna Noodles
- 8 oz Fontina Cheese, shredded
- Saute the pancetta in a saucepan on medium high heat until browned. While the pancetta is cooking, run the pumpkin puree through the food processor for a few pulses to eliminate lumps. Once pancetta is browned, transfer to a plate with a paper towel to soak up any grease.
- Transfer the pumpkin puree to a medium sized bowl and stir in the ricotta, salt, and garlic clove and stir until well combined. Stir in the pancetta.
- Heat Oven to 375 degrees. While the oven is heating, wash the food processor bowl and then add the baby kale and chard, sage leaves, pecans, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and give it a few pulses. Slowly add the avocado oil and pulse until mixture is well combined.
- To make the bechamel, heat a medium sized sauce pan on medium heat. Add butter and heat until melted. Add the flour and stir with a whisk, cooking for about 3 minutes until a paste forms and you can no longer detect the smell of flour. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. The mixture will slowly start to thicken. Add the salt and nutmeg and continue stirring for a few more minutes. Once the mixture has thickened, turn the heat down to low.
- Grease a 13X9 Casserole dish with butter. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the bechamel to the bottom of the casserole dish and spread to form thin layer. Top with enough lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the dish. Next, add one third of the bechamel on top of the noodles and spread to cover. Then, add one third of the pumpkin mixture on top of the bechamel and spread to the edges of the dish. Then, add one third of the pesto and spread on top of the pumpkin.
- Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients until there are no more noodles, pumpkin, pesto, and bechamel. You should finish with noodles on the top. There should be enough bechamel remaining to spread a thin coating on top of the last layer of noodles. Top with the fontina cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until the edges are bubbly and the cheese is light golden. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.