Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I tried something new in the kitchen

Vegetarian lasagna.

It's been a long while since I've made lasagna and I always made the usual meat sauce type, but then I saw a vegetarian recipe in a magazine and thought I'd try it.

Pumpkin, spinach and ricotta lasagna.

it's in one of those free supermarket magazines that come out seasonally, so four times a year.
Looks nice doesn't it?

we start with chopping and cooking the pumpkin, then letting it cool. I left my chunks too big, the recipe says 3cm, but I somehow missed seeing that....doesn't really matter since it will be mashed later.

some of the other ingredients....

the rest of the ingredients.

I've never used fresh lasagna sheets before, always dried, so this was a learning curve for me.

washed baby spinach; the recipe asks for 120g...I had plenty left over so it's in the freezer ready for a quiche.
grated parmesan; 1/2 cup (I buy this in blocks and grate as needed)
finely chopped chives; 1 bunch

the flour, milk and butter were made into a sauce to which 1 cup of grated tasty cheese should be added. I forgot and added the whole 125g packet of grated tasty cheese....oops.

all of this would have had to be moved out of the way....

to gain access to this power point for the blender. I couldn't be bothered even climbing into the back of the cupboard to get the blender

I used my trusty potato masher to blend the too-cold-by-now pumpkin and the ricotta cheese. It's supposed to be done in a food processor. I don't have one, relying on the blender instead. Today, the masher had its turn in the limelight. The mix is supposed to become a smooth sauce. Hmmm, didn't quite get there.

add the parmesan cheese, chives, milk and an egg. Mix well.
Don't worry, I'll print the full recipe at the bottom of the page.

this mix is then layered between pasta sheets with baby spinach leaves and the cheese sauce.
The recipe says to use an eight cup capacity dish; mine only holds six cups, so I had spinach leaves and pumpkin mix left over, but ran out of cheese sauce.
The recipe is going to need some tweaking.
The top layer is supposed to be cheese sauce which is then sprinkled with the remaining grated tasty cheese. Which I had already put into the I improvised with grated mozzarella and parmesan

here it is in the oven, getting nice and browned. The book says to bake this at 200 degrees for half an hour or until golden. In my opinion, at 200 degrees, it would be golden long before it was thoroughly baked, so I lowered the temp to 160 when I put the dish in the oven and baked it for longer. I prefer my pasta soft, not crunchy.

how do you like my recipe holder?  I'm so resourceful.....

my tiny kitchen. I can stand in the middle and touch both sides at once. Easy-clean.

the lasagna was ready just in time for dinner, so I served a portion and sat down to eat.

you'll notice it didn't cut and serve in a nice tidy layered square like in the picture.
There's a reason for that, which I will now tell you.
I served it hot, so the sauce was still runny. (and my dish is too deep)
To get nice neat slices, a dish like this needs to be allowed to cool and set. Ideally, make it the day before you want it, refrigerate it then cut portions and zap in the microwave to heat through.
Even reheating in the pan without slicing, will result in neater slices as the sauce has had time to set. 

which is what I did with the leftovers. Refrigerate, not reheat. See how nice and neat it cuts?

packaged and frozen for future meals.

Taste?  A little too sweet for two reasons. I forgot the seasoning, it would have been much better with the pinch of salt and shake of pepper that was supposed to go into the pumpkin, ricotta, chives etc mix. Second reason? I chose butternut pumpkin (which USA readers will know as butternut squash) and it is sweeter than other varieties.
I also think the cheese sauce was a bit too much. Okay in a meat lasagna, but for this I think I would just sprinkle grated cheese in place of cheese sauce next time.

Here's the recipe and I'll leave it up to you to decide:

1.2kg pumpkin cut into 3cm pieces
60g butter
1/4 cup plain (all purpose) flour
2 1/2 cups reduced fat milk (I just used what I had in the fridge)
125g grated tasty cheese
300g fresh ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 bunch chives finely chopped
2tbs milk, extra
1 egg, whisked (I didn't whisk)
375g fresh lasagna sheets
120g baby spinach leaves

1. preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Grease (whoops, forgot that bit too) an 8 cup capacity ovenproof dish. Cook pumpkin until tender, drain and cool.

2. Melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine, cook for two minutes. Slowly add milk while still whisking, bring to boil, simmer two minutes**. Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup tasty cheese.

3. Place pumpkin and ricotta in food processor, process until smooth. Transfer to bowl, stir in parmesan, chives, extra milk and egg. Season.
Spread 1/2 cup of pumpkin mixture over base of dish. Top with pasta sheets, spoon over 1 cup of pumpkin mix. top with 1/3 of the spinach, (I just added one layer of leaves) then 1/3 cup cheese sauce. (I didn't measure, just spread sauce..which was a bit too thick after cooling, probably why I ran out)

4. Repeat layers ending with sauce. Sprinkle over remaining tasty cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve.

I would recommend a wider, flatter dish than the one I used which really is too deep for this. My original lasagna dish broke in the move and I haven't replaced it.

**this is difficult on an electric hotplate, it takes much longer than two minutes for it to cool from boiling to simmer temperature.


  1. Yummo. I add garlic to mine too. And anything else which leaps out of the fridge/cupboards at me. And it is too long since I have made lasagne. Soon.

  2. You did a sterling job at adapting the dish, River. And, it sure looks delicious.
    I imagine the smell filled your cute kitchen with mouthwatering aromas whilst it was baking.

    I do a similar veggie lasagne using mushrooms - big fan of mushrooms here.
    Thank you for posting the recipe, as I will write it down and make it very soon.

    And, lasagne is one of the best dishes warmed up after the initial bake, once all the flavours have infused. So yum.

  3. There aren't enough non dairy cheeses on the market to be able to make a decent lasagna. I did get a recipe for non dairy cheese but it's a big job and I'm lazy so there you go.

  4. I have to admit I have never made lasagne although it is popular with my offspring and their offspring. I can't even attempt it nowadays as too much pasta for us but it sounds so delicious. I love your kitchen....ours is not all that much wider although reasonably long.

  5. Elephant's Child; garlic will definitely be added next time. I always add it to the meat variety one.

    Vicki; I've done a mushroom-zucchini version many years ago, I added those to the meat sauce while it simmered the day before. I used a jar of bolgnese sauce that time, with extra garlic.

    Delores; I don't know anything about non-dairy cheeses, I just use the regular kind. I have a lactose intolerance, but that is for plain milk and the extra-creamy ice cream. I'm fine with everything else.

    Mimsie; it's a shame you can't eat very much pasta, it's quick and easy to cook and filling too. Would you be able to eat a low GI pasta occasionally? although probably not in a lasagna as that has layers of pasta so there would still be too much.

  6. You weren't scaring me off. I knew it would be delish!

  7. Ha ha ... like that about the tiny kitchen . . . can touch both sides :-)

  8. I was exhausted just reading that. My way is much easier, buy Lean Cuisine and throw it in the microwave.

  9. Joanne; it was delish! I was surprised. Too sweet, but still delish.

    Haddock; welcome to drifting. makes it super easy to clean too. One swipe with the mop and I'm done.

    JahTeh; I've tried Lean cuisine and I have to say I prefer more pasta, theirs has too much sauce, not really happy with their taste either. Visit here on Saturday and see my kitten playing with his favourite toy.

  10. Oh, yum!!

    I would definitely accept a slice of that. :-)


  11. Would canned pumpkin work as well? No fresh pumpkins here except in the fall.
    This sounds absolutely delicious. You had me at pumpkin.

  12. Those supermarket recipe cards have some great ideas, don't they? I love lasagna and make it quite often (home made pasta rather than dried sheets). I've made several different variations of vegetarian lasagne, but never with pumpkin, which is sadly never available here.

    I wonder if the recipe needs a little grated nutmeg to complement the flavours. I find that works well with cheesy sauces and with pumpkin. What I also like to do is to make up the lasagne and then cover it and refrigerate it overnight before cooking it. Then it seems to slice very well into nice pieces without sliding all over the plate (I often make it when we are feeding a crowd).

  13. I have been making lasagne for years and never knew that trick about cooling and setting before slicing!
    This recipe looks delicious, especially from your photos. Though I too find pumpkin a bit sweet sometimes.