Friday, October 30, 2015

Lasagna Stuffed Pumpkin with Spinach-Pumpkin Seed Pesto

With Halloween happening this weekend and Thanksgiving coming soon, I thought I would experiment with some pumpkin recipes.  Pumpkins are very versatile in the cooking world.  They can be hollowed out and used for decorating tables, holding soup, or serving dip.  Cakes can even be baked inside them.  Today, I present you with a lasagna stuffed pumpkin.  If you love pumpkin lasagna, this will be an easy and elegant equivalent.  I suggest serving this to your guests for the holidays.  It's vegetarian and gluten-free friendly.  You can purchase raw pumpkin seeds for the pesto instead of shelling your own and you can also adapt the recipe for a larger pumpkin or different ingredients.  I like to peel off the skin and slice into the pumpkin and lasagna, with a little dip into the spinach pesto.  Yum!! 

1 (3-4) pound pie pumpkin, washed and dried  
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles, uncooked
9 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
3-4 ounces spinach leaves
1½ cups half-and-half
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground sage
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Romano cheese

Spinach-Pumpkin Seed Pesto

2 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, shelled
1 clove garlic
½ tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.  Cut off the lid of the pumpkin and set aside.  Remove seeds and fibers and rub inside of pumpkin with oil and garlic. 

2.  Break one lasagna noodle into two or more pieces to fit inside bottom of pumpkin.  Cover with about ¼ cup ricotta and an ounce of spinach.  Mix half-and-half with nutmeg, sage, salt, and pepper.  Pour about ¼ cup over spinach layer.  Cover with a heaping ¼ cup of mozzarella. 

3.  Repeat Step #2 three more times.  Cover with remaining noodle and half-and-half mixture.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and replace pumpkin lid to cover.  Bake on prepared sheet for about 2 hours or until noodles are tender and sauce is thickened.  Remove from oven and let rest. 

4.  Place spinach leaves, shelled seeds, garlic, and lemon zest in a food processor and process until minced.  While the machine is running, slowly pour in olive oil and blend until smooth.  Add the cheese and process until combined.  Stir in salt and pepper, to taste. 

5.  Remove lid from pumpkin.  Cut pumpkin into quarters.  Serve with pesto. 

Servings:  4