pumpkin and spinach lasagna with italian sausage

Until I made this recipe I never thought about the fact that I never make lasagna. I finally concluded that the reason is a Greek dish my grandmother makes often called pastichio. It is essentially a bolognese lasagna dish but instead of flat pasta we (Greeks) use thick round ones, and instead of multiple thin layers there are only three fat ones… Sauce/ pasta/ béchamel. This lasagna however couldn’t be more different. Multiple layers of interchanging orange and green colour tell a completely different story. I also used an italian sausage that we got from Sienna when we had visited Tuscany for an epic week of gastronomic decadence.

Those beautiful layers first started with a delicious, fresh pumpkinThis is what it looked like after baking. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderfully delicious it was!

– mel

Ingredients, pumpkin filling:
– 1 onion finely chopped
– 1 leek finely chopped
– 1 garlic finely chopped
– 1 cup chicken stock
– 1 cup white wine
– 1kg pumpkin peeled and cut in grape sized pieces
– 200 gr italian sausage finely chopped or pork minced meat
– 1 tbs sage
– 1 tbs olive oil
– 1 tbs butter
– salt and pepper

Directions, pumpkin filling:
1. Place a skillet on medium-high heat and add oil and sausage. Cook until nicely browned for about 10 minutes stirring regularly.
2. Remove the meat and discard the fat.Place skillet back on the heat and add the wine to deglaze. Remove when the wine has reduced to half and pour over the reserved meat.
3. Place the skillet on medium heat and add butter leek and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally then add garlic, sage, meat and pumpkin and cook for a further 5 minutes.
4. Season lightly and add the stock and cook for a further 20-30 minutes until pumpkin is cooked through. What you are looking for is a moist mixture but with no excess water.
5. Remove from heat check and adjust salt and pepper and reserve.

Ingredients, spinach filling:
– 500 gr fresh spinach
– 250 gr ricotta cheese
– 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
– salt and pepper

Directions, spinach filling:
1. Place a big pot that has a cover on medium-high heat add butter and then spinach. Cover well and let it steam for about 3-4 minutes.When you open the lid the spinach must look wilted and reduced to a fifth of its size. Remove from pot and let spinach drain for a few minutes.
2. Add spinach in a bowl and mix in nutmeg salt and pepper and ricotta cheese. Place next to the pumpkin filling.

Ingredients, bechamel:
– 2tbs butter
– 3tbs flour
– 400ml milk cold
– 70 gr grated parmesan for topping
– pinch s&p

Directions, bechamel:
1. Place butter in a pot and bring to medium heat.
2. When butter melts, start adding the flour gradually stirring continuously with a spoon.Cook for a few minutes till it starts browning slightly and start adding the cold milk gradually stirring continuously with a balloon whisk. When everything is incorporated season lightly and cook for 1-2 minutes then remove from heat.Place next to other fillings.

Lasagna, preparation:
1. Place in front of you a baking pyrex, about 250 gr lasagna pasta and your three fillings.
2. Place thin layers of filling and pasta in the following way:
– pumpkin
– béchamel
– pasta
– spinach
– béchamel
– pasta
Repeat as many times as your dish allows and at the end top with remaining béchamel. Sprinkle the cheese and bake on middle rack of preheated oven at 220ºC for about 30 mins.
3. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting

Serves 6

** If your bechamel curdles just complete the recipe and strain through a sieve.
** I mention the option of minced meat because some testers found the sausage a bit overwhelming although I personally couldn’t see why.

….for more recipes from us, check out our archives.

…….mel writes too little & the controlling side of me felt I had to add a few things. Let’s start with a picture. Have you met the Chef? This was about as good a picture as I could get. Turns out, he’s even better at hiding from the camera than I am.

I also want to add that our trip to Italy was breath-taking & gorgeous. I don’t think we stopped eating a single moment, but it was always filled with smiles, a nice bottle of wine & an incredible view.

Oh, and we don’t “sometimes call it” pastichio, it’s always called pastichio in greek. Always.

– nickey


4 thoughts on “pumpkin and spinach lasagna with italian sausage

  1. Hats off to the brilliant chef that is my brother !!! I am just about to fall asleep, but I had an urge to find something special to cook tomorrow for me and Tryf ! I think this is it ! I was in between the chicken curry pasta and this dish but I think I am now convinced I have to make these lasagna !!! More to come tmr evening ! After I attempt to make this ! Thanks for the idea…

    • Thanks. Mel is pretty good about incorporating colour into our food, that in turn makes me wonderfully happy since it’s more fun to photograph & it’s always incredibly delicious. Thanks for the kind words.

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