Vegetarian roasted squash lasagna with pecorino cheese

homemade lasagna with squash and ricotta cheese

Hello my friends, how have you been?

All is generally fine here in Rome, temperatures are nice and mild and the markets have exploded with squashes and edible pumpkins of all colors and shapes.

As I mentioned in the past, Halloween is now fully imported in Italy. In our very traditional neighborhood, the feast has slipped away quite unnoticed. The local butchers however have done a great job with pumpkin meatballs (sorry not vegetarian!) and
these adorable ghost meatballs wrapped in pastry. I bet the butcher does not know he is supposed to make something spooky. These are more on the cute side than on the scary side 🙂

For me, the real feast is the arrival of squashes. I look forward to making some of my favorite recipes with this great vegetable. In my experience, butternut squash works well in Italian recipes but be adventurous and try new varieties when available.

I like to roast the squashes cut in half or in large wedges, sprinkled with salt and pepper and with a few sage leaves, 1/4 onion, and 2 teaspoons olive oil in the cavity. The flesh scoops out easily and freezes very well for soups, pasta, and risotto.

This month’s recipe might be unorthodox for some of you. It’s a very light, delicate, and thin lasagna. There is no tomato, just a thin layer of pureed squash enriched with ricotta.

For this reason, the recipe only works out with fresh pasta sheets. This lasagna is built with a balance of vegetables, sliced cheese, soft cheese as well as grated cheese. Feel free to double the layers if you like a thicker lasagna, but please exercise restraint with the sauce and cheeses as the whole point is to keep it light.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 lb) orange pumpkin or squash, cleaned and cut in half or large wedges.
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3-4 sage leaves
  • 300 gr (10 1/2 oz) thinly sliced, sharp – but not hard – cheese. A young pecorino is perfect but you could use fontina, smoked cheese, or a mixture made with 1/2 gorgonzola and 1/2 mozzarella.
  • 120 gr (4 oz) grated Parmigiano or Pecorino
  • 250 gr (8 oz) fresh ricotta
  • 500 gr ( 1 lb)  fresh lasagna sheets ( mine are 22×18 cm -7×5 inches)

For the sauce:

Preheat oven to 200 °C (390°F). Prepare squash as in the photo above and roast until fork tender.

Let it cool enough to handle, then spoon the flesh and the onion into the bowl of a food processor together with the ricotta. Discard the sage leaves as they might be bitter. Process until thick and creamy. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Assemble lasagna:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F). Butter a 40 x 30 cm (16 x 12 inch) roasting pan.
  2. To soak the pasta sheets, boil 4-6 cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour in a shallow bowl which must be larger than your lasagna sheets. Using a slotted spoon, deep one or two lasagna sheets at a time in the hot water until just soft, approx. 30 sec, strain and place in one single layer in the buttered tin.
  3.  Once the bottom of the pan is covered by lasagna sheets, pour 1/4 of the pumpkin/ricotta mixture over the pasta sheets and spread it in a thin layer. Top with 1/3 of the sliced cheese and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano.

    how to make vegetarian lasagna
    In this photo I was making lasagna for two, that’s why the pasta sheets don’t get all the way to the side of the pan. They cook beautifully anyway.
  4. Repeat two more times using each time 1/3 of the sliced cheese, 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano, and 1/4 of the pumpkin mixture reserving 1/4 for the top layer.
  5. Top with one last layer of pasta sheets, cover thinly with the rest of the pumpkin mixture, sprinkle with 2-3 additional tablespoons of Parmesan, and bake for 25 min or until golden-brown around the sides and lightly crunchy on top. Enjoy!

Serves 8

light vegetarian lasagna with squash recipe

NB. This recipe marks the beginning of my new project, a virtual Test Kitchen which I run through my newsletter platform. You are invited to participate in the project, there is an entire month to make the recipe and join the community to show your results and discuss problems and ideas. Please subscribe to read all about it, thanks!

Comments

  1. Perfect timing! I just invited a vegetarian friend for dinner while Matt will be in Europe for three weeks. This will be a good choice for dinner.

  2. I’m making this today. The onion and the sage? Does this get blended with the squash and ricotta? Or does it go out?

    • Hi Susan, I hope I am not too late! I don’t blen the sage but I do blend the onion!

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