Prep time: 40 minutes (does not include time for making the pumpkin pasta dough or sauce)
Cook time: 40 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10
1 batch pumpkin pasta dough (recipe below), cut into lasagne noodles
1 batch béchamel sauce (recipe below), heated to a simmer
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
10 ounces Gorgonzola dolce cheese, crumbled or diced
8 ounces Fontina or fontal cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the baking dish
To make the lasagna recipe, spread a clean tablecloth or several clean tea towels on a flat surface near the stove. Have ready the uncooked pasta, the béchamel, and the cheeses. Place a large bowl filled with ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the cooked lasagne noodles to remove excess starch.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt it generously. Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagne noodles, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil the pasta for about 1 minute, as fresh pasta cooks quickly and the lasagne noodles should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to remove the lasagne noodles from the pot and gently immerse them in the bowl of ice water. Then use the skimmer to remove the noodles and let them drip before spreading them on the clean tablecloth. Continue to cook, cool, and spread out the lasagne noodles until you have cooked and cooled all of them.
Spread a thin layer of béchamel in the bottom of the prepared dish. Arrange a single layer of the lasagne noodles over the sauce. Spread just enough béchamel over the pasta to cover it, and sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the béchamel. Sprinkle about 1/5 of the Parmigiano over the mozzarella. Arrange another layer of noodles in the dish and spread béchamel over them. Sprinkle the Gorgonzola and a little more Parmigiano on top. Arrange a third layer of noodles in the dish and cover with béchamel. Sprinkle the Fontina and more Parmigiano on top. Arrange a fourth layer of noodles in the dish and spread béchamel over the pasta, reserving enough of the sauce for the top. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and some Parmigiano on top, reserving enough Parmigiano for the top. Cover with a final layer of noodles and of béchamel. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano on top. (The lasagne may be assembled and stored, unbaked, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.)
Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake the lasagne for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. To serve, cut the lasagna into individual portions, and transfer to shallow rimmed bowls. Serve immediately.
Pumpkin pasta dough:
1/3 cup pureed cooked pumpkin or winter squash, such as buttercup or kabocha (or substitute canned pumpkin puree)
2 large or extra-large eggs
2 to 2 1/4 cups “00” flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons semolina flour, plus more for the work surface
3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and 1 egg. Set aside.
Place 2 cups “00” flour, the semolina flour, salt, and nutmeg in a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the pumpkin-egg mixture and pulse briefly. Add the remaining egg and pulse until the mixture forms crumbs that look like small curds. Pinch together a bit of the mixture and roll it around. It should form a soft ball. If the mixture seems dry, drizzle in a few droplets of water and pulse briefly. If it seems too wet and sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse briefly.
Turn the mixture onto a clean work surface sprinkled lightly with semolina flour and press it together with your hands to form a rough ball. Knead the dough by using the palm of your hand to push the dough gently but firmly away from you, and then fold it over toward you. Rotate the dough a quarter turn, and repeat the pushing and folding motion. Continue kneading for several minutes until the dough is smooth. Form it into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
To form lasagna noodles, stretch the dough as thin as you comfortably can, no thicker than 1/16 inch. If you lift a sheet with your hand, you should be able to see the shadow of your hand through it. Because lasagna noodles are layered, they need to be very thin. Using a sharp chef’s or similar knife, cut each sheet into rectangles about 4 inches by 5 inches.
3 cups whole or 2 percent milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
To make the béchamel sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Do not let it boil over. Remove the pan from the heat.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot milk in driblets, whisking constantly and taking care to avoid lumps and scorching. When all of the milk has been added, cook the sauce, stirring it frequently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, for 10 to 13 minutes, or until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
Season the béchamel sauce with the salt, pepper to taste, and nutmeg, and remove from the heat. (The sauce may be stored in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat it in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash or two of milk if necessary to loosen it.)
The following are some of Stephanie Nuccitelli‘s favorite pumpkin dessert recipes from her blog, 52 Kitchen Adventures. You can find many more recipes at www.52kitchenadventures.com. For more local food blogs, visit The Sacramento Bee’s blog and community news network, www.sacramentoconnect.com.
Soft pumpkin spice cookies
Yield: 32 cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
In a separate large bowl, beat butter and both types of sugar together. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Scoop two teaspoons of dough (I used a small cookie scoop) onto prepared cookie sheet. Flatten dough into cookie shape (it will not spread so make it the size and thickness desired).
Bake for 15 minutes, until cookies feel slightly hard when pressed gently. Let cool completely.
Combine all icing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Drizzle over cooled cookies.
Pumpkin chocolate chip blondies
Yield: 16 blondies
6 tablespoons coconut oil or softened butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, beat coconut oil and sugar together. Add egg, vanilla, and pumpkin to the bowl and mix until well combined.
In a medium bowl, combine flour with spices, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add mini chocolate chips to bowl and stir to combine.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into even layer. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool, then cut into two-inch squares and serve.