Monday, March 5, 2007

First Post: Pumpkin Lasagna



I decided to start off my food blogging career with my favorite recipe to date found thanks to the Internet: Tiffani from Top Chef Season 1 on Bravo! made a Pumpkin lasagna for her very first dish, and it's one of the best I've ever had. I greatly enjoy her cooking style: a lot of Mediterraean flavors, done in really interesting ways (I also love that she pushed her way into the culinary world regardless of a lack of formal training...as much as I sometimes disagreed with her "tactics", she is a great chef). The following is the pumpkin lasagna, Thanksgiving incarnation. The recipe calls for making two, but I could only ever eat a fourth of one in one sitting; my boyfriend half. These things are filling, which, when you're on a budget, is a great benefit. That pumpkin is heavy stuff. They also make amazing leftovers--the flavors melt together even more initially, and the pumpkin really stands up to the microwave.

I also really enjoyed, and one of my guinea pigs commented, that this recipe doesn't overuse nutmeg, which a lot of pumpkin treatments do. The actual flavors of the pumpkin come out (accented by sage, which I totally adore), and aren't overwhelmed by heavy spices. So major kudos to Tiffani, wherever she is.

This is a view from the pumpkin cut in half... the picture doesn't quite capture it, but I do promise it's gorgeous. The colors are so bright and exciting! It's a very eye-capturing dish, and baking it actually in the pumpkin is a really cool asthetic trick that makes it seem way more advanced than it really is.

Note of warning: peeling the inside of a pumpkin for the filling takes a LONG time. I did it with Law and Order in the background...I suggest something similar.

In changes from the original recipe, I used lasagna noodles instead of making my own, and used a veggie peeler on the pumpkin instead of cutting it into dice--it makes pureeing it without a food processor remarkably easier.

INGREDIENTS

Pasta:
4 cups sifted flower "00" flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh orange zest
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. water

Pumpkins:
2 small sugar pumpkins
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Filling:
2 lbs. skin off pumpkin meat ( large dice)
2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chiffonade
1 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Pasta: In a food processor combine flour, salt, sage and orange zest- add eggs , olive oil and water to a dough consistency remove separate into four smaller pieces of dough wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

Pumpkins: Pre-heat oven to 375. Wash pumpkins thoroughly. Remove tops of sugar pumpkins scrape out all pumpkin innards. Season inside of pumpkins with above ingredients. Place pumpkins cut side up on half sheet pan roast in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Allow pumpkins to cool completely. Set aside.

Filling: Cut pumpkin into uniform pieces toss in a bowl with all above ingredients spread on a non stick baking sheet bake in 375 oven until fork tender. Place pumpkin in food processor and puree until smoothSeason to taste add 1 tbsp. fresh sage. Layer cooled pumpkins with pumpkin filling pasta, parmesan change and ground ginger snaps. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Increase oven temp to 450 for 5 minutes. Allow pumpkin to cool 5-10 minutes before serving- serve with freshly grated Parmesan and crushed ginger snaps.

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