I can’t think of lasagna without thinking of my paternal grandmother, Rose Casale, who was the daughter of two Sicilian immigrants that never once ate at a restaurant in America. Home cooking wasn’t a luxury of time or a special occasion- it was a way of life. The older I get the more I can see qualities of my grandmother reflected in me, both physically and emotionally. She was a very beautiful, very stylish, very loving, and very anxious woman. My sharpest memories of Grandma Rose are from the dinner table: sitting and watching her bring steaming dishes of Italian cooking to the table, constantly doting on my father, never sitting, always flitting to get someone something despite our teasing and protestations. No matter my or my sister’s age, she would habitually tuck our hair behind our ears and we both hated it. I’ll note here that I always wear my hair tucked behind my ears and out of my face now that I’m growing it out.
Needless to say, my grandmother left a culinary legacy that honestly gives me pause to either order lasagna at a restaurant or to cook it myself. Sure, it’ll be good enough but there will always be the memory of her pasta perfection in my back of my mind and palate. So when I saw a recipe for pumpkin lasagna from Taste of Home while googling a use for a can of pumpkin puree, well, a sick curioscity compelled me more than a peaked appetite, to be honest. Especially when seeing that there was to be no tomato sauce included. Hmm…
Now I’ll say that this isn’t on par with Grandma Rose’s lasagna but consider that no pasta dish ever will be in my mind. But it is, despite all my skepticism, really good. Good enough that I’m sad one pan will only lasted me from Sunday to Wednesday in lunch and dinners. Good enough that I’m going to consider this a staple meal recipe through fall and into winter. And let’s not overlook that pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin A (which aids in skin repair, good vision, bone growth, as well as lots of other processes in our bodies that are kind of really important) and dietary fiber. There’s even a bit of protein in there too!
Vegetarian or not, this is a great dish for even the most skeptical of pumpkin denouncers. After a failed butternut squash quiche- I may be a little too trusting of my fellow man when it comes to online reviews- I gave this recipe the side-eye even while preparing it. But luckily for all, that first bite swiftly crushed my initial cynicism and mistrust. While cooking, I added two cloves of garlic and substituted a shallot for the small white onion. Between those two flavors and the substantial amount of sage called for in the recipe, the pumpkin taste is much more of a backdrop for everything else at play and gives the dish an even creamier texture.
Along with the addition of the shallot and garlic, I also had to make about 3/4 cup extra sauce because I got a bit overzealous in my earlier layering. Next time, I think I’ll opt for wheat lasagna noodles for some added fiber but I did love the convenience of no-cook noodles. Another user gave a great tip to sprinkle one to two tablespoons of water on the uncooked pasta layers to make sure they didn’t dry out in the oven. Following this tip, my noodles came out the perfect consistency and dryness wasn’t a problem in any part of this dish- I know because I just ate the last helping while writing this very post.
Are you absolutely sick death of pumpkin flavored everything by now? Have any interesting recipes for pumpkin or other squashes? Want to share what your costume will be this weekend? Let me know in the comments below!
Be kind. Live authentically. Practice gratitude. Hustle daily. Work hard. Stay humble.
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