Dining Features

Simple Art of Cooking: Spooky Pumpkin Lasagna and Baked Apple Sauce

Trick or Treat is surely a treat when “Spooky” pumpkin lasagna awaits. Patti Halsey of the Green Thumb Organic Farm in Water Mill suggested Spooky, a firm fleshed pumpkin for this lasagna, which couldn’t be more perfect for Halloween dinner.

There’s no more local ingredient for applesauce than the apples from a neighbor’s orchard. A group of neighbors picked the apples and had no idea of the variety. I peeled, cored and coarsely chopped apples into a baking pan with fresh apple cider, then baked and crushed them with a potato masher. Serve with crushed graham crackers or over ice cream.

SPOOKY PUMPKIN LASAGNA
“No kidding, the variety of pumpkin is truly named Spooky,” said Patti Halsey of the Green Thumb Organic Farm in Water Mill.

Serves 8 to 10

8 oz. fresh lasagna sheets or lasagna noodles
4 cups pumpkin purée
2 beaten eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard leaves, washed and coarsely chopped
freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 to 15 leaves fresh sage leaves
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter to finish

1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the fresh lasagna sheets, if using, 4 sheets at a time, lift into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and place each one on a clean kitchen towel, layered with a dry towel between. For dry lasagna noodles cook according to package directions. Set aside.

2. Place the pumpkin purée in a bowl and add the beaten eggs, cream, Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. In a 12” sturdy skillet, heat the oil and put in the diced onions. Sauté the onion for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent, then pile the greens into the skillet and toss to mix with the onions. Add about 1/3 cup cold water to the greens and toss. Toss the greens until they begin to wilt as they cook. Continue to cook until the liquid evaporates and greens are tender. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Transfer to a dish to cool and set aside.

4. Melt butter in a small skillet and when bubbles subside, add the sage leaves. Sauté for 3 minutes or so just to crisp the leaves. Remove from heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F.

5. Butter a 12” x 8” lasagna baking dish and place a layer of pasta on the bottom. Spread 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture over the pasta and sprinkle about 1/3 of the breadcrumbs. Place another layer of pasta and spread over 1/2 of the Swiss chard, continue layering, ending with the last third of the pumpkin mixture and bread crumbs. Cover top with pasta and dot with butter. Cover the lasagna with a sheet of foil, shiny side down and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes. Garnish the top with the buttery, crispy sage leaves and another sprinkle of Parmesan, cut into squares and serve.

BAKED APPLE SAUCE WITH APPLE CIDER

YIELD: About 2 1/2 cups

2 1/2 pounds apples
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
Graham cracker crumb and cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F

Peel, core and coarsely chop the apples. Place in a parchment paper-lined baking pan and pour over the cider. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and crush in the pan with a potato masher and let cool. Refrigerate, covered in a suitable container until ready to serve. Serve with cinnamon spiked graham crackers crumbs

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