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Pumpkin and Ricotta Lasagna

 

Yields:  6 -8 servings  Prep Time:  25 minutes       Total Time:  1 hour

 

A combination of pumpkin puree, ricotta and Parmesan cheese blends with a little sage and shredded chicken to create a savory side to this favorite fall squash. 

 

Ingredients

1/2 - 3/4 pound uncooked chicken or 1 uncooked chicken breast (about 1 cup cooked and shredded)

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree (canned or fresh roasted)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

 

Directions

1. Place the chicken in a saucepan, and cover it with the 4 cups of broth.  Bring to a boil and cook all the way through.

 

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

3.  In a bowl, combine pumpkin puree, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, ground sage, ground nutmeg, salt and ground pepper.  Mix well.

 

4. When chicken is cooked through, remove from heat, and first shred using two forks to pull it apart.  Then dice the shredded chicken to break it into smaller pieces.  KEEP THE BROTH!

 

5. Add the diced chicken and 1/2 cup of the broth to the cheese and pumpkin mixture.   Combine well.

 

 

6. Prepare a baking dish (I used a Le Creuset 7” by 10.5” dish) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom.  Add 2 -3 tablespoons of cheese and pumpkin mixture to slightly coat the bottom and provide moisture for the first layer of noodles.

 

 

7. Add the first layer of noodles to cover the bottom, without much overlapping.  Break the noodles if you need to.

 

8. You will need about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin cheese mixture for the final layer, so set this aside.  Then, place half the mixture on the next layer, spreading evenly.  Add another layer of noodles. 

 

9. Place the second layer of dry noodles, followed by the other half of the pumpkin mixture. 

 

10. Follow up with one final layer of dry noodles, then use the saved 1/2 cup of the mixture to spread on the top. Sprinkle about 2 extra tablespoons of Parmesan cheese on the top.

 

11.  Right before it goes into the oven, spoon about 6 tablespoons of the chicken broth evenly over the dish.

 

12. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

 

Boy, am I lucky to have good friends.  A good friend showed up today with a few bags of roasted pumpkin puree and roasted squash puree.  Even better, they were grown organically in her garden – local and organic!  Plus, she did all of the hard work for me!  But for those who don’t have access to fresh roasted pumpkin or have the time, canned pumpkin puree works just as well for this recipe.

 

The other component to this recipe involves the lasagna noodles.  I did use no boil lasagna noodles.  For this reason, I used some of the chicken broth in which I cooked the chicken to not only help moisten the noodles, but also add flavor to the dish.  If you would like a softer, less crispy (on the outside) noodle, then regular to-be boiled noodles may be a better option.  I appreciate the time saver of the no boil noodles, and I prefer the crispy sides.

 

If you are looking for a vegetarian option, you could always leave the chicken out and substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth.  For us, the chicken added great texture as well as flavor, combining beautifully with the pumpkin, spices and cheeses. 

 

My husband commented that it was delicious, but that it didn’t taste like pumpkin.  I asked him what pumpkin tasted like, and he said, “You know, cinnamon and all those pumpkin spices.”  To his credit, I understand to what he is referring – the typical pumpkin pie flavor.  However, pumpkin on its own is not a strong flavor, yet has a mild sweet flavor that combines perfectly with savory flavors.  This lasagna is a perfect example!

 

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