Silverbeet and Pumpkin Lasagne

Each winter calls for a new take on the classic layered pasta pie. We’ll be honest – this recipe takes most of the afternoon to make and you’re going to use half the kitchen utensils you own as well as a food processor, but hey, you’ll be eating lasagne for dinner! 

Serves 6

Ingredients

Roast Pumpkin:
Whole pumpkin/butternut, around 1.5 kg
Salt, pepper, olive oil

Silverbeet pesto:
1 bunch (about 500g) silverbeet
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Salt, pepper
Chilli flakes, to taste.
Bunch of parsley (around 30g)
1 cup grated parmesan
Zest of 1 lemon

Béchamel: 
600 ml milk
60 g butter
60 g plain flour
Salt, pepper
Nutmeg, finely grated

To assemble:
Lasagne sheets, we used around 350g (around 9 sheets)
250g mozzarella cheese, grated or roughly torn.

Method

Each winter calls for a new take on the classic layered pasta pie. We’ll be honest – this recipe takes most of the afternoon to make and you’re going to use half the kitchen utensils you own as well as a food processor, but hey, you’ll be eating lasagne for dinner!

Silverbeet and pumpkin lasagne

Best to employ a sous chef, or at least a dish pig/let

Roast the pumpkin
Cut the pumpkin into 1/2cm ‘cheeks’. Spead them evenly across baking trays, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper (on both sides) and roast at 180 degrees for 30-40 mins until totally soft and golden. 

For the pesto
Cut the silverbeet leaves from the stems, then cut or tear leaves into 2-inch pieces. Thinly slice the stems crosswise.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (which has a lid) over medium heat. Add the stems, garlic, and shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes. Season with chilliflakes, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook until vegetables are extremely soft and starting to caramelize, 12-14 minutes (check and stir every few minutes).

Add the leaves to the pot, return the lid and cook for a further 2-3 mins. remove lid, and stir the wilted leaves to combine. Turn off the heat. Transfer the silverbeet mixture to a food processor; add the parsley and parmesan and lemon zest. Pulse until the pesto is to your preferred consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

For the Béchamel
To make the béchamel sauce, heat milk to scalding point and set aside. Melt butter in another saucepan and stir in flour. Cook stirring, until you have a smooth golden paste (known as a roux). Gradually work in hot milk and using a whisk, stir until sauce thickens and is very smooth. Continue stirring until béchamel sauce sauce boils. Simmer very gently for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Par-cooking the lasagne sheets – At this point, preheat your oven at 180°C. 
You’ll feel like skipping this step. Don’t. There’s nothing worse than pulling a lasagne you’ve slaved over out of the oven only to find the pasta to be undercooked.
Before you begin, make a clean space on your bench or table where you can lay out the lasagne sheets once par-cooked.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add a tsp of olive oil.
Lower the lasagne sheets in batches of 2-3 into the boiling water, one at a time. Cook for 2 mins, then using tongs, remove each one and lay out on a clean surface (they’re super sticky, so don’t be tempted to overlap them). Repeat until all sheets are par-cooked.

The layers go as follows
One quarter of the bechamel
Lasagne sheets
One quarter of the bechamel
One third of the pesto
Half of the pumpkin
One third of the cheese
Lasagne sheets
One quarter of the bechamel
One third of the pesto
Half of the pumpkin
One third of the cheese
Lasagne sheets
Last quarter of the bechamel
Last third of the pesto (mix it with the previous layer of bechamel)
Last third of cheese.

Bake for about 40 mins, until it’s suitably golden and crispy on top and bubbling around the edges.

We love serving a rich meal like this with a simple salad that has an acidic edge. Try shaved fennel, a handful of rocket and a handful of chopped parsley dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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