I love love love this time of year. The trees are the most beautiful colours, cosy jumpers are a thing again, walks with the dog watching the sunset are blissful, Halloween is around the corner and pumpkins and squashes are everywhere. These beautiful autumnal vegetables are real delights and I light up the first time I see them beginning to be stocked on the shelves of supermarkets. I wish I was way more connected to nature and could write about harvesting them from the earth but woe is me I live in London and I'm super lazy. The one downside to these hardy root vegetables is their hardy skins. They are so damn difficult to cut up. I have the weakest arms ever, and I'm really clumsy, these things don't make for good pumpkin dissecting. My way around this was to make Jamie do it. I mean he does work in kitchens and has amazing knife skills, so it would be rude not to,right? So for the start of this recipe creating Jamie hacked at pumpkin and squash, and I danced around to Lauryn Hill. I would suggest following my approach to cooking!
I had never eaten a sweet dumpling squash before, there are very similar to a butternut squash but are sweeter. So delicious and I mean look at them, they actually look like love hearts, what could be cuter. Feel free to swap out the sweet dumpling squash for any other squash, or just stick to pumpkin.
Pumpkins have only 26 calories per 100g but are incredibly nutritionally dense. A cup of cooked mashed pumpkin contains 200 percent of your daily intake of vitamin A which aids vision. They are also high in vitamin C, fibre, and the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a roll in cancer prevention. The seeds are also full of health benefits, don't throw them away when cutting up your pumpkin. Scrape out the seeds and innards and then rinse in water and the seeds should separate easily, you can then roast these or eat them as is. Sprinkle on salads, soups or just snack away.
Lasagna, when I was younger was a real treat. It meant mum was cooking, which was rarer than a blue moon. It was a very 'mum' creation, this lasagna, rather than a white sauce it used cottage cheese. But me and my sister loved it none the less. While my taste in lasagna may have changed, my love of the dish hasn't. I decided to evoke that sentimental memory of lasagna while using the stunning seasonal vegetable available at the moment, in the hope of creating a warming cosy dish. And well I think I did it (with Jamie's help!).
1 cooking pumpkin
1 sweet dumpling squash
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Gluten free lasagna sheets
For the white sauce
4 cups of almond milk
1/2 cup of gluten free flour
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
8 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (plus extra for sprinkling on top of lasagna)
For the tomato sauce
4 large tomatoes
4 cloves of garlice
20g fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon of mixed herbs
1 tin of passata
1) Dice the pumpkin and squash into small chunks, and place on a tray. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and season with pepper and/or salt, and mix to ensure the spice is evenly coating the veg. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 200'c.
2) Heat the olive oil in a pan. Slowly sieve in the flour, stirring continuously. Add the nutmeg, the nutritional yeast, and season.
3) Add the almond milk to the pan slowly and stir continuously. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the consistency of custard.
4) Dice the garlic and tomatoes. Fry in a pan until soft. Add the passata, and the mixed herbs. Finely slice the basil and add to the sauce.
4) In a lasagna dish assemble the lasagna. First a layer of tomato sauce, then add the roasted pumpkin and squash, next a layer of spinach, then lasagna sheets, topped with white sauce. Then repeat this process. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top, plus sliced tomatoes if you fancy.
5) Place in the oven for 40 minutes, (check the timings on the back of the lasagna sheets and cook to packet instructions if different) at 200'c.