To all the vegetarians reading this: be warned.
If you’re planning to make Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna as a meat-free main course for your Thanksgiving dinner, make extra.
Because all the turkey eaters at your Thanksgiving dinner will eat this too. They might even take seconds.
So bring a backup lasagna, or get ready to elbow your way to the front of the line.
As a turkey eater, I’d like to apologize for all the times I’ve made this for the vegetarians in my family and taken a large portion for myself. I’m sorry for all the times I’ve eaten the leftovers.
I’m sorry that I’m not sorry.
Layers of noodles stuffed with spinach and mozzarella, doused with creamy pumpkin béchamel, and topped with salty Parmesan cheese is the kind of vegetarian main dish that is welcoming to meat eaters too.
Even if they weren’t invited.
The secret to any good lasagna recipe is a good béchamel sauce. Béchamel is a heated mixture of butter, flour, and milk that combines to make a ridiculously creamy sauce.
A can of puréed pumpkin and a pinch of nutmeg turn the classic béchamel into something that plays nicely with roast turkey and cranberry sauce- even if they get jealous sometimes.
It’s important that the milk stirred into the flour/butter mixture is hot, or the béchamel sauce will get lumpy. If lumps do appear, just whisk them vigorously until your bicep hurts.
Once you’ve finished the béchamel sauce, and perhaps done some light arm stretches, you’ll make the spinach filling.
This recipe calls for a full pound of baby spinach.
As you add the greens to a large skillet (with onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, lots of salt, and plenty of olive oil) they’ll wilt easily and beg for more. So more you’ll give. Depending on how big your skillet is, you might have to wilt the greens in batches.
This would also be great with mushrooms added to the spinach filling if you’re truly unafraid of vegetables.
Finally, you’ll combine all the layers: pumpkin béchamel, noodles, spinach filling, mozzarella, more pumpkin béchamel. Repeat.
To make this in advance, assemble the lasagna fully, double wrap it with plastic wrap, cover it with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator the night before Thanksgiving, take it out Thanksgiving morning to bring it to room temperature, then bake it according to instructions.
- For the Pumpkin Béchamel
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups hot milk
- 1 15 ounce can pureed pumpkin
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg
- For the Lasagna
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb baby spinach
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 box oven-ready/no-boil lasagna noodles (usually 9oz)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan, plus more for serving
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Make the béchamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour, cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. While whisking, slowly add the hot milk. Cook 4 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened, whisking frequently. Stir in the pumpkin, salt, ½ tsp pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer a few more minutes, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary- it should be well-salted and not bland. Set aside.
In a large skillet, add olive oil and chopped onion. Cook, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes until the onion is fully translucent. Season with 1 tsp salt. Add garlic, spinach, red pepper flakes and 1 more teaspoon salt to the skillet, along with another drizzle of olive oil. Cook until the spinach is wilted, you might have to do this in batches. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
To assemble the lasagna: add ⅓ of the béchamel to the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Layer over about 4 lasagna noodles lengthwise. You can break the lasagna pieces to make them fit snugly without any overlap. Add half of the spinach mixture on top of the noodles. Cover with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Pour another ⅓ of the béchamel over the mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles, remaining spinach mixture, and remaining mozzarella. Top with last layer of noodles. Pour remaining béchamel over the top layer of noodles. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove cover, and bake 15 minutes longer or until edges are bubbly and golden brown.
Remove from oven, top with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan and a few cranks of black pepper. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.
I like a refreshing white wine to balance out the richness of this dish. Try a Pinot Gris or a sparkling wine like Prosecco or Cava.
There’s a pumpkin-spiced glow over the Internet right now.
“Best-ever Thanksgiving side dishes” and “all-star holiday treats” compete with “foolproof pie dough” and “make ahead mashed potatoes.”
It’s enough information to make you sick of Thanksgiving recipes well before the 4th Thursday of November.
So here’s a collection of decidedly-not Thanksgiving dinners: no turkey, no cranberry sauce, and definitely no pumpkin spice.
To be clear, I love Thanksgiving food and shamelessly adore pumpkin spice, but I like to switch it up in the days before the feast.
When your refrigerator is stuffed with all the vegetables at the farmer’s market, six extra containers of stick butter, and a giant raw turkey, you need simple meals with few ingredients to get you through the week.
The following meal plan includes healthy weeknight recipes that you can make in under 30 minutes (or 45 minutes if you’re simultaneously doing the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and prepping Thursday’s pies).
You’ll find one dinner with meat, one vegetarian, and one fish.
If none of these options suit you, I’ve got plenty more ideas for meat/chicken, pasta, veggies, and seafood recipes.
Best of luck as you prepare for the delicious, stressful, exciting days to come- let the following meals serve as healthy moments of joy along the way.
This take on the classic orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe is good enough to make an Italian mother proud. Spicy sausage, zesty lemon, parmesan cheese, and perfect bites of broccoli combined with whole-wheat pasta.
A fast (vegan!) meal that tastes like a giant hug to yourself. Chickpeas fry in healing spices, sweet tomatoes, and piles of spinach to create something way too healthy to be so delicious. Warm pita for dunking is non-negotiable.
Delicate fillets of white fish powered-up with sweet roasted tomatoes, salty cured olives, plenty of lemon, and a ton of peppery arugula. A fast, flavorful, healthy weeknight dinner, all in one pan.
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