Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Open Lasagna with Sage and Butter sauce...

Are vegetarians wealthy?  They don't buy meat, which is always the most expensive thing on my shopping list.  They probably don't buy leather, meaning expensive clothes and cars are out.  They probably grow a lot of their own food.  I imagine they don't eat out much as well due to the limitations forced on them by carnivorous chefs.  Am I being a bit too sterotypical?  Should I stop talking about them like a mythical creature?

Apparently only 3% of the western world is Vegetarian.  So in the interests of being representive of society at least 3 in every 100 posts on this blog must be Vegetarian!

The V word is one that can scare some.  I've never understood why.  I'm as big a meat eater as the next person but I also follow the philosophy that if it tastes good it should be celebrated.  I celebrate often.

Besides, sometimes you get that lethargic 'I've consumed too many carcasses for one week' feeling and a good shot of vegetables is just what is needed!

The below dish is one which wouldn't really fall into the healthy section, although it certainly fits into the tasty one!  Sweet pumpkin mash, caramalized onions, iron rich spinach and creamy ricotta are layered between fresh pasta sheets and then topped with a sage and pine nut butter to make a delicious offering that will persuade at least 3 in every 100 people to let Bambi live another week.

Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Open Lasagna with a Sage and Pine Nut Butter sauce

Serves 2
Prep and Cook Time: 60 minutes

This dish involves getting all the components together and then putting it together at the end.  Try to get your timings right to ensure everything is still warm.

1kg Pumpkin
30g Butter
Fresh Pasta Sheets
3/4 cup Ricotta
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
A few Sage leaves ( I used 10 small ones)
1/2 Red Onion
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Parmesan shavings
Crispy sage leaves (whole leaves cooked for 10 seconds in hot oil) [optional]
  • Turn your oven onto about 200 degrees C.
  • Skin and De-seed your pumpkin then chop into chunks about 4x4cm.  Cover in 2 Tbsp Olive oil and season then place in an oven tray lined with baking paper.  Chuck in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, turning once.
  • While that's cooking cut the onion into slices and put in a cold pan with 1tbsp Olive Oil.  Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring often so it doesn't color too much.  Mix in the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, season, and then cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Using either a ramekin dish or pastry rings about 9cm wide cut 8 circles of pasta out of the sheets.

  • Place the pine nuts in a small roasting dish and roast until nice and toasted.  Be careful not to burn them.  It should take only 2-4 minutes.
  • Cook the spinach as per packet instructions.  I used frozen spinach but fresh works even better.  Ensure that you let the spinach drain and squeeze out that extra moisture.
  • Remove the cooked pumpkin from the oven and place into a medium sized saucepan.  Mash magnificently.  Add a small knob of the butter and 1/4 cup of the ricotta.  Place on a low heat stirring constantly until the mash is smooth and thick. Mix in half of the pine nuts to give some texture to the dish.
  • Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan then add the chopped sage leaves  Cook on a medium heat until the butter lets off a wonderful nutty aroma and goes slightly brown.  Add the remaining pine nuts and remove from the heat.

  • At the last minute cook your pasta.  As it's fresh pasta it will only take between 3-4 minutes.  Cook the rounds in plenty of boiling salted water.  When al dente drain the pasta well.
  • Construct!!! This is where all the parts become one.  Do with finesse if you have guests.  Do quickly if you are hungry.  Layer your cooked concoctions in this order.  Pasta, Pumpkin, Caramalized Onions, Pasta, Spinach, Ricotta, Pasta, Pumpkin, Pasta.  Top with a bit of the Caramalized Onion, some shavings of parmesan and some crispy sage leaves.  Drizzle the sage and pine nut butter over the lasagna and around the plate.

And after all that the only thing left to do will be to ring your local butcher and tell him why you aren't coming round so often anymore.

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