Pumpkin and Mushroom Lasagna

My wife’s parents cooked extensively from the original Moosewood Cookbook, which introduced many Americans to vegetarian cooking when it was published in the 1970s. When I went searching for a season-appropriate pumpkin lasagna recipe, I came across one that looked like it had potential. The Moosewood name (published in the Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates cookbook) gave it the seal of approval I needed.

The key to this recipe is the ricotta salata, a pressed, dry cheese that crumbles like feta. I had to travel to two grocery stores to find it (success at Whole Foods), but it was worth the extra effort. Its mild saltiness cuts the sweet creaminess of the pumpkin filling.

It’s not necessary to pre-cook the noodles before making the lasagna. There’s plenty of liquid the noodles will absorb. One pan of lasagna will serve eight for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large yellow onions (about 4 cups diced)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 20 ounces cremini mushrooms (about 6 cups sliced)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 2 eggs
  • 29-ounce can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese (about 27 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound lasagna noodles
  • 8 ounces ricotta salata (about 1 1/2 cups crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Step 1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the diced onions. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to sweat. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to sweat, too. Finally, add the sage, the marsala wine and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 5 more minutes and set aside.

Step 2. In a large bowl, prepare the filling. Whisk the eggs briefly, then add the ricotta cheese and pumpkin puree. Season with the pepper, nutmeg and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir until uniform.

 

Step 3. Build the lasagna. First, spoon out 1/2 cup of liquid from the mushrooms and onions and pour into the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan. Place a layer of noodles on top (carefully break the noodles to fit if necessary).

Then, spoon half of the filling (About 3 cups) of the pumpkin-ricotta filling on top of the noodles and spread it out.

Next, spoon one-third of the mushrooms and onions on top of the filling, and top with one-third of the crumbled ricotta salata.

Repeat with another layer of noodles, the remaining pumpkin mixture and another third of the mushrooms and crumbled cheese.

Finally, place the top layer of noodles and cover with the remaining mushrooms and any leftover liquid. Top with the rest of the ricotta salata and cover with the grated pecorino romano.

Step 4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. It’s a good idea to place a tray under the baking pan to catch any drips. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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