When I think of winter and snow, I think of snuggling up in my fleece pajamas and fuzzy socks and watching tv (and doing absolutely nothing else). But, ya gotta eat dinner, right? When I think of winter in terms of food, I think about all of the wintery vegetables- squash, pumpkin, cabbage, onion, potato, etc, along with the warm flavors of nutmeg, cinnamon and of course chili- to keep you warm and comfy.
Here’s an awesome winter Italian Lasagna dish that packs in all of those yummy flavors and keeps you full and happy. Its creamy, spicy and sweet and oh so garlicky. One serving won’t be enough. FAIR WARNING: this is not a healthy dish as my other recipes are, but its ok because winter time is meant for sweat pants and hibernation
I wish my pictures did more justice to this dish..but my family was in such a rush to eat, that I had to quickly get a good shot. This meant I couldn’t fix my surrounding lights or environment that much. But trust me, this recipe is amazing.
Also, I’m not sure if you noticed by now, but I’m not a stickler for measuring (only when it comes to cooking, but measuring in baking is a must). So, if you see a measurement of say “a little less than 1 tbsp,” just go with your gut feeling. Plus, most of my recipes are catered to each individual person’s taste. For example, I eat really spicy food, so my recipes will have [what you may consider] a ridiculous amount of chilies and chili power. You obviously don’t have to put the amount I do.
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (I used Polly-O Brand)
- about 1/4 cup organic pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp (or more) salt
- coarse black pepper
- 1 tbsp red crushed pepper
- 3-4 cloves Roasted Garlic (recipe below)
- 1 tsp fresh chopped sage
1. In a small bowl mix the ingredients all together until smooth. Taste for salt, spice and pumpkin. You may need to adjust the amount of pumpkin puree to add depending on how pumpkiny you want the filling to be.
Caramelized Acorn Squash-Onion Filling:
- 1 large Vidalia/white onion- thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper- sliced
- 1 cup sliced acorn squash (cut in same length as the onions)
- 1 clove garlic- chopped
- 1 tbsp dry italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped sage
- 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp red crushed pepper (or to taste)
- freshly grated nutmeg- 1/2 tsp
- pinch of cinnamon
- coarse black pepper
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- PAM Olive Oil Spray
1. In large heavy saucepan spray with PAM and pour in olive oil. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers and saute of medium flame. You don’t want to add the squash right away, because it doesn’t take that long to cook, and you don’t want the pieces to end up mushy in the lasagna. After about 8 minutes and once the onions have softened, add the sliced squash, Italian seasoning and red crushed pepper. You don’t want to add the fresh thyme and sage right away, because you want it to burn.
2. After about 6-7 minutes, and once the onions are more caramelized and the squash softened, add the sage, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Saute for a couple of more minutes until everything is cooked and taste for salt and seasoning. You might need to add more nutmeg, depending on how strong you like the flavors- I added about a 1/2 tsp because I did not want it overpowering the other flavors. Remove from the pan and set aside. DO NOT wash the pan out- it will be used to make the sauce, and you want to grab all those yummy flavors left behind.
Roasted-Garlic Sage Cream Sauce:
- 2-3 cloves Roasted Garlic (recipe below)- chopped/mushed
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2-3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup light cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- red crushed pepper (to taste)
- PAM Olive oil spray
1. In the same pan used to saute the vegetables, place of low heat and spray with a little PAM. Add the butter and sprinkle in the flour- use a whisk to whisk together and breakup all the leftover veggie bits from the bottom of the pan. Mixture will resemble a thick paste and you should whisk it until smooth. Slowly pour in the cream and add the roasted garlic cloves and incorporate until thick and smooth. Add in the whole milk and whisk until incorporate. Simmer on low. Add in the herbs and spices. Whisking so it doesn’t burn. You want it to thicken and heat through and be flavored well. Taste for salt and spices- adjust flavors accordingly. Once heated through, set aside.
- 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
- 1 package reduced fat shredded mozzarella
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- PAM Olive Oil Spray
- red crushed pepper
1.Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. Using a sheet of foil, place the garlic clove in, spray with PAM and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and red crushed pepper. Fold foil over to create a packet. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes or until completely tender. Remove and let cool. One cooled, you can squeeze out the garlic cloves.
Assembling the Lasagna:
Preheat oven 350 degrees
1. Using a large casserole dish, pour about 1 cup of the sauce at the bottom of the dish. Place 4 uncooked lasagna noodles at the bottom. Coat with a generous amount of the pumpkin-ricotta filling. Top with a heaping spoonful of the squash and veggie saute. Sprinkle with reduced-fat shredded mozzarella. Repeat this layer.
2. Top with the remaining 4 lasagna noodle and sprinkle on cheese. Pour over ALL of the sauce. Sauce should cover the ENTIRE dish- since the lasagna noodle aren’t cooked, you need the moisture from the sauce for the noodle to cook. If the sauce seems less, simply add some more milk (don’t worry, it won’t change the flavor of the dish), until well coated.
3. Wrap with foil and bake for about 1 hour or until the noodles are fork tender. Once fork tender, remove the foil and bake uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. If the dish seems dry, again, add some milk.
4. Remove and let cool for a few minutes. Cute a heaping square-shaped piece and serve with a sprinkle of fresh sage and parmigiana cheese.
Like this? Then try my other Italian Dishes!