Easy and Impressive Pumpkin Lasagna

Slice of lasagna from the side showing layers of pumpkin and kale

This make-ahead pumpkin lasagna is both unexpected and elegant.

by Erin Henderson

I’m not sure why the good folks who can pumpkin puree insist on doing so in only gigantic tins.

They’re never the right size for any recipe, usually far too much, but on the rare occasion you need a slight bit more, it’s just enough so that you must open a second gigantic can, and still have seven-eighths left over. 

It was a few years ago, facing my annual autumn plight of pumpkin puree excess, that I came up with this lasagna as a means to use it all up. (I also came up with this pumpkin spice syrup – brilliant for putting a fall spin on classic cocktails.)

Initially, the flavour combinations may strike you as unusual, and indeed they are a departure from the beefy ragu fillings of which you may be more familiar. But this vegetarian version is delicious with the silky sweet pumpkin set off by the salty sharp parmesan and mellow earthiness of the kale.

Even though I rate this recipe “intermediate” for chef skills, that’s only because there’s a few parts that may require some balance if making this all at once. But, if you approach it in three stages: the Swiss Chard sauté, the mixing of the pumpkin sauce and then the boiling of the noodles, really this is pretty beginner.

You can even save time by making the chard and mixing the pumpkin the day before, for a super-fast but satisfying week-night dinner.

To make a bigger pan, like a classic 9x13 lasagna, just double the ingredients.

Pumpkin Lasagna

Yield: 8x8 pan, 4-6 servings depending how you slice it.

Chef level: Intermediate

  • 6 good quality dried lasagna noodles (I really like Rummo brand)
Swiss Chard Filling:
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped small
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large bunch of green Swiss Chard, washed well and sliced into ribbons
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Pumpkin Filling:
  • 500 g plain canned pumpkin puree (Such as E.D. Smith – make sure this is not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup (plus 3 Tbsp) full fat, unsweetened coconut milk (you could also use cream if you prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped fine
  • 1 dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 dash of ground cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  1. In a deep pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. When warm, add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  4. Working in batches, add in Swiss Chard stirring to incorporate and wilt slightly before adding in the next handful (this helps create room in the pan.)
  5. Sauté the mixture until the chard has wilted completely and all the moisture has been released from the leaves.
  6. Season with S+P.
  7. Drain the mixture (there will be a good portion of water released from the leaves.)
  8. Meanwhile, set up a very large stock pot with water to come to a boil.
  9. When boiling, salt the water generously and add the noodles. Cook until al dente, according to the package instructions (for me this is usually about 8 minutes).
  10. Right before draining add a glug of olive oil to the water, this will help to separate the noodles easier in the colander.
  11. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree with the parmesan cheese, ¼ c. of the coconut milk, sage, spices and S+P.
  12. To assemble, lightly oil your lasagna pan.
  13. Add 3 Tbsp coconut milk to the bottom of the pan, moving it around to coat the bottom (it won’t evenly coat, and it doesn’t matter.)
  14. Add one layer of cooked noodles overlapping each noodle just slightly.
  15. Spread on the pumpkin mixture (I find it easiest to do this with my hands – get in there!)
  16. Spread the chard mixture over top of the pumpkin.
  17. Add another layer of noodles, going the opposite direction from the first layer (so if your first layer went north-south, this layer goes east-west.)
  18. Keep alternating noodles, pumpkin, chard, until the final noodle layer (you should have three layers.)
  19. After placing the final noodles, top with pumpkin and then top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
  20. Preheat the oven to 420F
  21. Cut a piece of parchment paper and place over the top of the lasagna, then cover tightly with tin foil (the parchment will help keep the cheese from sticking to the cover.)
  22. Bake for 15 minutes, covered.
  23. Uncover, and bake for another 15 minutes.
  24. Finally, place directly under the broiler and broiler for 3-5 minutes until cheese is golden and melted.
  25. Let cool for 15 minutes and serve.
Wine Pairing

Dry, South African Chenin Blanc, which is luscious and full with oily/silky texture, matches the weight of the creamy lasagna and can handle the rich layers of pasta and sauce.

And check out this blog to learn about pairing wine with tricky fall vegetables!


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