Due to popular demand at the office — colleagues stopping me in the corridor and popping into my office to catch me eating al desko — here is what I’m eating this week for my lunch.
It’s a very simple lasagna: only ricotta, pumpkin and peas. My idea of lasagna — and perhaps yours too — is hours spent making the various layers and sauces, before you even begin to assemble and bake the collated final dish.
With the minimum of main ingredients, this version cuts out much of that pfaffing about. Therefore you get straight to creamy, gentle comfort food, just right for the shocking onslaught of winter cold in Hobart.
There’s a subtle dash of smoky paprika and chilli and sage, and a little parmesan, just enough to tease your tastebuds (I didn’t want anything aggressively cheesy). What you’ll enjoy is the richness of the ricotta and smoothness of the pumpkin, punctuated by waxy, nubbly bits of walnut and those polka dots of peas. With the fresh pasta sheets and thin, elegant layers, this is not a greedy lasagna; it’s comfort carbs without tipping over to stodge.
I know I’ll make this again because it was so easy and delicious. The question is, will I be seeing this in my co-workers’ lunchboxes now?
Simple pumpkin lasagna
Adapted from delicious magazine, July 2007. You can find the original on the taste website. Next time, I would simply steam the pumpkin, as roasting did not add extra flavour, and it qould be even quicker; and I would use any variety or mix of pumpkin, even sweet potato. Finally, I don’t have a 24 cm square baking dish so just made do with my largest round one, and it worked out fine.
- First take one cup of frozen peas and allow to thaw. You need a packet of 8 fresh lasagna sheets and I find these easier to use at room temperature, so get them out now too.
- Preheat oven to 190 and line a baking tray with paper.
- Peel 1.2 kilos butternut (or other pumpkin) and chop into small chunks. Season with S&P and smoky paprika and dried chili, to your taste, and drizzle with oil. Cover with foil and bake until tender. As noted above, you could also steam this, and then fold thru the flavourings.
- While the pumpkin is cooking, blitz in your food processor 375 gms ricotta (from the deli), 1 egg, 1 generous tbspn greek yoghurt, and half a cup of grated parmesan; all til smooth. Spoon ricotta mix into a bowl and clean your food processor.
- Now take your cooked pumpkin, add 1 tbspn finely chopped fresh sage leaves, and whizz in your food processor til smooth.
- Now, butter a 24 cm square baking dish or other large sized one, and start assembling.
- Lay two lasagna sheets on the bottom; smooth half the pumpkin; sprinkle over half the peas; lay another two lasagna sheets; smooth out half the ricotta mix; lay another two lasagna sheets; smooth the rest of the pumpkin; sprinkle over the rest of the peas; lay another two lasagna sheets; smooth out the rest of the ricotta mix.
- On the very top, sprinkle over a layer of panko breadcrumbs, some freshly ground pepper, and some walnut pieces – as much or as little as you desire.
- Cover with baking paper then foil and bake for 35 minutes (in your still heated 190 oven). Then uncover and bake for another 15–20 minutes or until golden.
- When cool, portion out into your lunch boxes; and the next day, tantalise your co-workers.