Sugar Pumpkin Lasagna

This month has been flying by. I can’t believe that November is almost here! My parents were in town last week, so that was a lot of fun to see them again. We went to Gramercy Tavern, which was such a treat! I had always wanted to go there, and my parents made it happen! Their autumn tasting menu was phenomenal. We had some tasty cocktails up at the bar before dinner, and then enjoyed many delicious courses, such as veal with a pear puree and heirloom tomatoes, a crab soup with sorrel, and fettuccine with duck confit and brussels sprouts. Kramer and I were truly in heaven. Each course really was better than the last, and even dessert was phenomenal, which I find is so rare, even in the nicest restaurants. If you are every lucky enough to have the opportunity to go, please do! I hope that we will be able to go back again some day.

The menu at Gramercy Tavern was so wonderfully seasonal that I wanted to do something similarly festive at home. I had always wanted to try baking a lasagna inside of a sugar pumpkin, ever since I saw Tiffani do it during the first episode of season one of Top Chef. I thought she was one of the strongest chefs on the show, and she definitely displayed her talents by baking a sugar pumpkin lasagna during that first episode. It really stuck with me through all of these years, so I finally decided that I needed to give it a try. I made a vegetarian lasagna with warm, autumnal ingredients, such a mushrooms, chestnuts, and, of course, pumpkin. I have to say, this might be one of the best things that I have ever made. The pumpkin shines through, but isn’t overpowering, and the mushrooms made the dish hearty, along with the chestnuts and zucchini. Even my husband, an avid meat lover, enjoyed this meal and ate until he could eat no more, which is always a good sign! The ricotta mixture for this lasagna was truly delicious, with each bite melting in your mouth. I used warm spices, such as cinnamon and ginger, and fresh thyme, to give everything a real “fall” feeling. I would eat this lasagna every weekend, if I could, it really was that good. I promise! Please give this a try, not only is it tasty, but it is presented beautifully and is quite impressive, either to serve to a small group or for a vegetarian option at your Thanksgiving table.



Your ingredients for the filling.


Cut the tops off of both of your pumpkins, and save them for the presentation, if you like (it’s not necessary). Scoop out the seeds and membrane, discard (or save and make roasted pumpkin seeds), and rub the insides with cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pepper.


Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-45 minutes, until softened.


Scoop out the filling, but leave enough so that the sides remain firm enough to hold the lasagna when baked. You will get about 1/3 cup or so per pumpkin.


Push through a mesh sieve to remove any remaining bits of membrane and to make sure that the puree is smooth.


Now prepare your mushrooms. Dice your shallot (or half an onion).


Saute your shallot in a tablespoon of butter over medium heat until soft and translucent, then add in your minced garlic and cook for another minute or so.


Thinly slice your mushrooms.


Add them to the shallot and garlic. Stir to combine, then add in your thyme.


Saute over medium heat until lightly softened, about 5 minutes, then add 1/4 cup of white wine to deglaze the pan a bit. Allow the wine to cook down over medium-low heat, another 5-8 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside until you’re ready to use it.


Chop your chestnuts to small bits. You can roast your own, but I didn’t have time for that, so I bought pre-roasted and shelled chestnuts at my local supermarket.


To the pumpkin puree that you’ve pushed through the sieve, add 1/3 cup of ricotta cheese, your mushroom mixture, your chestnuts, and a pinch of salt, and pepper. You can add some add some dried cranberries, too, but I did that just in mine, because Kramer doesn’t like dried cranberries very much.


Now make your bechamel sauce. Start by melting 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a small sauce pan.


Add 1 tablespoon of flour and whisk quickly, over medium heat, until combined. Do not allow the bechamel to brown.


Add 1 cup of milk and whisk. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add in a pinch of salt and continue to whisk. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes or so, until thickened.


When reduced, remove from heat and set aside. I usually cook my lasagna noodles while I make my bechamel.


Slice your zucchini very thinly.


Now it’s time to assemble your lasagna! Start by placing half of a cooked lasagna noodle in the bottom of your pumpkin, followed by a dollop of your ricotta and mushroom mixture, followed by a small dollop of bechamel sauce, then a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. I did every other layer with the zucchini.


I cut my lasagna noodles in half, just like this.


Just keep layering, tucking in the sides of the lasagna noodles as you get higher to the top.


For the final layer, top with a lasagna noodle.


Top with a dollop of bechamel, then a big handful of Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the filling has heated through.


Serve and enjoy! I found that half a pumpkin was more than enough for me, and Kramer only ate about 3/4 of his, so plan accordingly. They are quite easy to cut in half.

Sugar Pumpkin Lasagna
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2-4
 

Ingredients
  • 2 small sugar pumpkins, about 6-8 inches in diameter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon per pumpkin)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon per pumpkin)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (1/4 teaspoon per pumpkin)
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger (1/8 teaspoon per pumpkin)
Mushroom Filling
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 shallot (or half an onion, but the shallot is so delicious and I highly recommend it), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup white wine (or vegetable stock)
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • pumpkin puree (made from the flesh of the roasted pumpkins)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 12 (or more, depending on how much you like chestnuts) chestnuts, diced
  • dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1 yellow or green zucchini, washed and sliced thinly
  • 10 lasagna noodles, cooked and sliced in half (I always make a few extras in case I make a mistake)
  • ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Bechamel
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1% and I wouldn’t recommend using anything with less fat than that)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions
  1. Begin by preparing your pumpkins. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and dry your pumpkins, then cut off the tops. You can save the tops to use as a garnish when you serve, but it’s not necessary. Scoop out the seeds and membrane, and either discard or keep the seeds to use to make roasted pumpkin seeds.
  2. Rub the insides of your pumpkins each with ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon ginger. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the pumpkins are soft and the flesh is easy to scoop out.
  3. Scoop the flesh out of the pumpkins, but leave enough so that the pumpkin remains firm enough to support the lasagna you are going to bake inside of it. You should get about ⅓ cup of flesh per pumpkin. Push the pumpkin flesh through a mesh sieve to make the pumpkin puree smooth and discard any bits of membrane that are left over. Set the pumpkins and the puree aside.
  4. Now, make your mushroom filling. Begin by melting a tablespoon of butter in a small pot or pan, then add in your diced shallot. Cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, cook for a minute or two, then add in the mushrooms, and cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes, until softened. Add in the sprigs of thyme, then add in the ¼ cup of white wine and cook over medium heat until the wine has mostly evaporated, another 8 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for a bit.
  5. When the mushrooms have cooled, remove the stems from the thyme. Place the mushroom mixture in a bowl along with the ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, diced chestnuts, salt, pepper, and cranberries (if you like, I did in mine but not in my husband’s). Stir to combine and taste, seasoning as you see fit. Set aside.
  6. Now it is time to make your bechamel sauce and cook your lasagna noodles. Boil your water for the lasagna noodles, and cook them according to package directions. You can leave them in the water, off of the heat, for up to 10 minutes while you are assembling.
  7. Melt your tablespoon of butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, then add in the tablespoon of flour and whisk until combined. Do not let the roux brown or you will have to start over. Add in the cup of milk, whisking the whole time, then turn up the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add in ½ teaspoon of salt, and continue to whisk while you turn the heat down to medium-low, bringing the bechamel to a simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until reduced and thickened.
  8. Now, assemble your lasagna. Start by placing half of a lasagna noodle at the bottom of your roasted pumpkin. Top with a dollop of your ricotta mixture, followed by some sliced zucchini, a teaspoon of bechamel, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Layer another noodle on top, then another dollop of the ricotta mixture, zucchini, bechamel, and Parmesan cheese. Continue until you’ve reached the top of your pumpkin. Be sure to press the mixture down every so often so that you can make as many layers as possible. I did about 4 layers in mine. For the last layer, lay down a lasagna noodle, then top with the remaining bechamel and Parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is bubbling and the filling has heated through. To remove from the baking sheet, I used two clean oven mitts to transfer the pumpkin lasagnas to the plates. Serves 2-4, depending on how much you plan to eat (I could only eat half of my pumpkin – they slice in half quite easily).

 

54 Responses

  1. Megan says:

    Wow! This is so beautiful and it looks so perfect for fall. I’m totally impressed with your skills.

  2. Mom says:

    No kitchen mishap here! That is beautiful!

  3. Tina from PA says:

    Please Please……… can I come to your house for dinner? This looks amazing! I’ll even eat mushrooms! Great job! I love the picture of you ,Kramer and your parents. Just a beautiful group of people! Have a great day!!!!

  4. This is just simply beautiful. I love that you baked it in the pumpkins. So impressive.

  5. Ben says:

    Wow. I am so jealous. Last time I went to GramTav must have been 5 years ago. That place is – in a word – awesome.

  6. Wei-Wei says:

    Oh my gosh I saw this on picturing food and I was just BLOWN AWAY! They’re too cute and look absolutely delicious!

  7. oh my gosh, i’m amazed and impressed! this looks so so so great, I love it!

  8. SallieB says:

    Wowza! That is the most impressive and beautiful looking pumpkin dish I have ever seen! It evokes everything that is fall – crisp air, sweaters and scarves, falling leaves and of course comfort food!

  9. Jen says:

    I really want to make something in a pumpkin and being on a serious mushroom kick this might be it. I wanted to do the bread and cheese filled pumpkin though, so maybe I’ll just add mushrooms to that…Anyway, looks amazing!

  10. Fred says:

    So…are you supposed to eat the outside of the pumpkin, too?

    • Sydney says:

      Fred: You probably could, but I only ate whatever flesh was left on the inside and discarded the skin. I’d say it’s like eating a baking potato, how you eat the potato but leave the skin behind.

  11. Jane M says:

    Wow this does look like some treat! Lots of work, but well worth it I’m guessing!

  12. Just found your blog looking for something to do with my sugar pumpkin… amazing recipe!

  13. Sarah says:

    This looks amazing! What a lovely presentation. I’ll definitely have to try this. Do you have any idea what could be substituted in place of the mushrooms?

  14. Michelle says:

    This is such an awesome presentation. Very creative recipe!

  15. Marynne says:

    I made this last night after stumbling on to your blog yesterday…It was DELICIOUS!!!! My husband didn’t even miss the meat! Thanks so much!

  16. Jessamin says:

    I made this tonight on the strength of your comment that it was one of the best things you’ve ever made, and now that is true of myself as well. This was phenomenal, and much easier than I’d thought it would be. This is the 4th recipe I’ve tried from your blog, and none have failed. Thanks for the great posts.

    • Sydney says:

      @Jessamin: I’m very glad to hear that you enjoyed it! It is much easier than it seems, it’s just a lot of steps! Thank you so much for the kind words!

      @C.P.: Yay! I’m happy to hear it was a success!

  17. C.P. says:

    What an amazing recipe! Made it tonight for my family and they loved it – well worth the effort for a special dinner. Thank you for sharing with everyone.

  18. Peggy says:

    What a beautiful presentation! This is perfect for any fall meal!

  19. Dee says:

    Please remember to use rennet-free cheeses if you are making this for a vegetarian! <3

    • Sydney says:

      Dee: That’s a great point, although I know some vegetarians are fine with rennet and just don’t eat straight up meat – it’s all up to everyone’s own personal preferences!

  20. Dana says:

    What a darling looking lasagna! I love this idea. It would be great for a dinner party. And if you do cut them in half for a more easily finishable serving size, you probably will get some pretty stratification to look at too! You put me in awe Sydney!

  21. Sugar Pumpkin Lasagna | Crepes of Wrath…

    Sugar Pumpkin Lasagna | Crepes of Wrath: The recipe on this site is not spectacular, although it is very interesting. The site itself and the presentation is noteworthy and I would probably do something very similar if i would just start to do this kin…

  22. Sarah says:

    This is really beautiful. Are sugar pumpkins readily available at the grocery store? I have never actually purchased a pumpkin to eat, only as a decorative gourd.

    • Sydney says:

      Sarah: They are just pie pumpkins, so you should be able to find them at your grocery store. If not there, then definitely at Whole Foods or Sprouts or something like that. I hope you give it a try!

  23. Liz says:

    I have looked in three stores, and can’t find the chestnuts. Where did you find them?

    • Sydney says:

      Liz: Where do you live? You should be able to find them at any major grocery store, like Safeway or Publix or something like that, otherwise check out a more specialty type place like Whole Foods or Sprouts.

  24. beonca says:

    Must try looks very yummy

  25. katie says:

    How are you serving it once you’re ready to eat?
    Do you cut the pumpkin itself in slices?

  26. [...] about our little weekend getaway. I made these sweet potatoes on the same night that I made my sugar pumpkin lasagna. Kramer really enjoyed them, and as someone who has shown a less than enthusiastic appreciation for [...]

  27. [...] photo is from right after I removed the seeds from the pumpkin in my last post. It’s impossible to get the seeds out without some of the membrane attached to them, so rinse [...]

  28. Camille says:

    I’m all set to make this for Thanksgiving. Do you know if I can use the no-cook lasagna noodles? I imagine they’ll be hard to get into the round pumpkin. I bought those out of habit and wasn’t planning on going back to the supermarket!

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