Pumpkin, kale and pork lasagna

This is in large part a recipe based on a Food52 recipe, but what I have done is deconstruct it further. Italian sausage is not an ingredient that is readily available in the UK, so after some research and testing I came up with my own recipe. I decided to roast my own pumpkin, and ended up using the pumpkin seeds as the topping. This dish was also the first time I had made fresh pasta, and I was really pleased with the end result. It is a multi-day effort, but can be made in advance if you are serving to a number of people and requires no last minute attention apart from letting it cool once you take it out of the oven.

Italian sausage

  • 1kg minced pork
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted then ground
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns, toasted then ground
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Pumpkin Béchamel

  • 90g butter
  • 90g flour
  • 1l hot whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 medium pumpkin or winter squash, roasted

Pasta

  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g flour, plus extra if needed (I used plain/all purpose flour, but you can use 00 if you wish)

Pumpkin seeds

  • pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • olive oil

For the lasagna

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200g kale
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 500g ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 250g fresh mozzarella (shredded or sliced)
  • 20g finely shredded parmesan

Day One

  1. In a dry medium-hot pan, toast the fennel seeds and black peppercorns.
  2. Once toasted add to a spice/coffee grinder with the rest of the herbs and spices. Blitz until a fine powder.
  3. Added the powdered spices the pork in a bowl, along with the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.
  4. Mix thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until needed.

Day two

Pumpkin

  1. Preheat oven to gas mark 6 or 200° C.
  2. Half the pumpkin length-wise. Remove the seeds and set aside. oil the pumpkin on all sides in a neutral tasting oil, then place cut-side down on a baking sheet.
  3. Place pumpkin into the oven, and cook until pumpkin is tender (mine took an hour and a quarter).
  4. Once the pumpkin is cook, remove from the oven and remove the skin. Place the pumpkin flesh on a chopping board and roughly chop it to break up any large lumps.
  5. Place in the bowl and cover with cling wrap and store in fridge until needed.

Pumpkin seeds

  1. Wash the seeds and remove and fibres.
  2. Place seeds in a saucepan with twice their volume in water, and two tablespoons of kosher salt. Bring to boil and simmer for ten minutes.
  3. Once seeds have been cooked, drain and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle over olive oil to coat the seeds.
  4. Roast in the same oven as the pumpkin for 20 minutes. Once roasted set aside a store in a cool dark place.

Pasta dough

  1. In a food processor and the flour and eggs, then pulse until is comes together in single dough ball. You may need extra flour if the mixture is too sticky.
  2. Form the dough into a disk and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in fridge.

Day three

Béchamel sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom 2 1/2-quart saucepan, then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth, somewhat loose paste. Stir over medium heat until the butter and flour foam together for 2 minutes without coloring more than a buttery yellow. Remove from heat.
  2. When the bubbling stops, pour in the hot milk at once, whisking vigorously to blend thoroughly. Then whisk rather slowly over moderately high heat, scraping along the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce comes to a simmer; simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and pumpkin from the fridge. Simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Kale and sausage, and ricotta fillings

  1. In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook through, until all the pink is gone, stirring occasionally. After sausage has cooked, drain all but 2 Tbsp. fat. Add kale and garlic stirring to coat kale with oil/fat. Cook until wilted. Add pepper and remove from heat.
  2. Mix ricotta, eggs, and sage in a bowl. Set aside.

Pasta

  1. Clear a table, and cover it with clean kitchen towels.
  2. Remove the dough ball from the fridge and split into three. Cover the remaining two portions so they don’t get dried out.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Fill your largest bowl with cold water and ice.
  4. With a pasta roller, roll out a third of the the dough ball on the widest setting. Dust it with flour, fold it back up again, and roll it through again. Repeat the process until it rolls out smooth. Reduce the thickness by one or two notches, then roll it through again. Repeat until you’ve run it through on the second-to-thinnest setting.
  5. Cut the sheets to around 12" each.
  6. One-by-one, place each sheet in the boiling salted water and cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Lay out each ribbon of pasta onto the towels and wipe their top-sides with another towel to get them all reasonably dry.

Assembly

  1. To assemble the lasagna: add 1 cup of béchamel to the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Cover bottom by layering 2–3 lasagne noodles lengthwise.
  2. Spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture over noodles. Add 1/2 of kale-sausage mixture on top of the ricotta. Cover with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Pour 1 cup béchamel over the mozzarella.
  3. Add another layer of noodles, remaining ricotta, kale-sausage mixture, and mozzarella. Top with last layer of noodles. Pour remaining béchamel over the top layer of noodles. Sprinkle with parmesan and the roasted pumpkin seeds over top.
  4. Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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