Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today... Pumpkin Lasagna!

It's that day again... Thursday! Which means it is time for another pumpkin recipe. Which  makes my heart happy.





The past two weeks, I've been all about the sweet side of pumpkin. But today... I bring you over to the savory side with Pumpkin Lasagna! This recipe is one of my absolute favorites to make in the fall.


There's quite a backstory to how this recipe came to be. In the fall semester of my senior year of college, about 2 years ago, the student life program held a campus-wide Iron Chef competition. Can you say right up my alley? I had to enter.

The contest was structured so that we were competing in teams of four - and four of us cross country girls quickly joined together to form a team. And by 'form a team', I mean we all wrote our names down on the paper and I took charge. Pretty typical.





Anyways... the contest was a bit different that the Iron Chef TV show. We were given two secret ingredients, and 24 hours to come up with our dish. I was all sorts of nervous & excited about what the ingredients were gonna be.


Drumroll please.......................................... chicken & cheese. CHICKEN & CHEESE?! Not exotic. Not difficult to work with. Not even interesting in the least. They gave us cheddar cheese, but told us we could use whatever cheese we wanted.


So, the options were basically limitless. Pasta? Stir fry? Casserole? Stuffed? Grilled? Baked? Roasted? Soup? Salad? Sandwich? Seriously. I knew it would take something different to wow the judging panel. (Different is good.)


Circa 2009, making pumpkin lasagna for the first time.
So I started researching. I came across a pumpkin pasta bake recipe on Taste of Home, and thought about how it could be adapted to include chicken, and of course, cheese. And I knew it would be perfect. The perfect dish to serve in the crisp cool days of fall. Different enough to stand out from the rest... familiar enough to appeal to all taste buds.



And so... we came (fashionably late because we had cross country practice), we competed, and we CONQUERED! Oh yeah, 1st place out of 15 teams for our Pumpkin Lasagna. And the best part? The grand prize of $75 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory. The perfect reward for winning the GC Iron Chef.


Now if prize-winning doesn't say much (because winning the Iron Chef at a small po-dunk college in southern IL definitely says a lot, hehe)... I will tell you myself that this recipe is fabulous. 


Instead of a red meat sauce, there's a pumpkin-sage cream sauce that is just perfect. Not too rich, not too light, not too pumpkin-y. (Pumpkin-y? Yes, it's a word.)


Sauteeing like a pro.
The layers are stuffed with sauteed mushrooms & onions, tender chicken pieces, and three types of cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, & parmesan.


And the most fun part of lasagna? The layers!


Beautiful.



Here's the line-up:
Ingredients for success. 
Sauce in the bottom.
Then noodles.
More sauce.
Chicken/mushrooms/onions.
Ricotta cheese. 
Mozzarella & Parmesan.
Rinse and repeat.


And there you have it! A delicious twist on an old stand-by. You won't be disappointed!


Pumpkin Lasagna


  • ½ lb. fresh mushrooms
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • ½ tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • dash pepper
  • 8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

In a small skillet, melt the butter. Saute the mushrooms, onion, and 1/4 tsp. salt in butter until tender; remove from pan. Place chicken in same pan; saute until brown on all sides and cooked through. Combine chicken with mushrooms and onion mixture.

To make pumpkin sauce, combine pumpkin with half-and-half. Stir in sage, pepper, and remaining salt.

In a greased 9x9-inch pan, spread a thin layer of pumpkin sauce. Top with a layer of noodles. (You might have to break them to make them fit.) Top noodles with another layer of pumpkin sauce. Top with half the mushroom/onion/chicken mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake at 375*F for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer until cheese has melted and browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes

Our Iron Chef WINNING recipe!!

8 comments:

Alissa said...

SARA! I was laughing uncontrollably while I read this. I totally forgot that the motto for GC was Different is good! Remembering Coach P at practice (he was so mad at the time!) hahahaha. I am not sure this comment will make any sense, but I just wanted to say that I loved this post. I am going to try to buy a pumpkin and make pumpkin lasagna this weekend (maybe?)

Sara said...

Haha!! I was hoping someone would catch that motto! Yes, he was sooo mad. It's funny now. How did the chicken wraps turn out? I might try those this weekend... is it still really HOT in Korea?

LauraKatie said...

This recipe looks absolutely delicious! It makes me think of the Pumpkin Festival in Morton- yum!

Jessica @ rerunrunning said...

Woah! I never would have dreamed this possible... but I totally want to try it. My husband just said no... ha... good thing he's not in charge of the kitchen. It will be made and he will love it! Haha!

So cool that you guys won! And 75 bucks worth of cheesecake might just be heaven. Mmmm... Cheesecake Factory red velvet cheesecake... I'm drooling. :)

GossipKitteh said...

Sara, I love this story! The chicken and cheese part was my fave. I was like, seriously? Way to totally wow the judges. I'll have to try this recipe for sure!

Sara said...

@LauraKatie - LOVE the Pumpkin Fest! We just went back home to Washington last weekend so we got to go over Saturday for donuts.

@Jessica - tell him you really cannot taste the pumpkin! It does not taste like pumpkin pie or sweet pumpkin at all. Yes, that red velvet cheesecake is good. My favorite is the Kahlua Brownie Cocoa... yum.

@GossipKitteh - ha! I know! I actually tried to make this last fall when Adam came to visit us in September but there was no pumpkin to be found anywhere. Hope you like it!

Cecily @ www.rerunrunning.com said...

Haha I love that you showed up late and still blew everyone out of the water! Although I can see why, the lasagna looks and sounds so so yummy! I've never even heard of pumpkin lasagna, but I can't wait to try!

GossipKitteh said...

Adam's mom told me there was a pumpkin shortage last year! It sounded kind of weird, but I guess it was true!

 
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