I promise this is not one of those ‘pumpkin-spiced everything’ recipes. It is, however, a great use of fall vegetables like pumpkin, yellow squash, and zucchini. And as much as this would be a perfect dish for my veggie friends, the carnivore in me had to add the spicy Italian sausage for no reason other than it ended up tasting so good, I couldn’t have imagined the dish without it!
I chose fontina cheese for this recipe, rather than the traditional mozzarella, because the creamy, earthy, nuttiness of the fontina pairs so well with the flavors of the sage and pumpkin. But if you’re a die-hard mozzarella fan, that will work too!
1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, ground
6 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 yellow squash, grated
2 zucchini, grated
3 cups fontina cheese, shredded
1 cup yellow squash, finely chopped
1 cup zucchini, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1 package lasagna noodles, uncooked
1-16 oz container low-fat ricotta cheese
1 can of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1) Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan set to medium heat. Add the sausage and cook it until it’s browned and cooked through, breaking the meat up with a spoon until it’s crumbly. Transfer the meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
2) In the same pan, using the olive oil and sausage drippings, add the garlic and cook it until it’s golden for about 2-3 minutes. Next, add the onion and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the onion is soft. Then stir in the squash and zucchini and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes.
3) Add the fresh herbs to the vegetable mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and remove the pan from the heat. Mix the cooked sausage in with the vegetables until thoroughly combined.
4) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5) In a large bowl, stir the pumpkin puree and the marinara sauce together.
6) To assemble the lasagna spread 1/2 cup of the pumpkin-marinara sauce in the bottom of the lasagna pan and then arrange a layer of the uncooked noodles on top. Then spread 1/2 of the ricotta cheese on the noodles and half of the vegetable/sausage mixture on top of the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle 1 cup of the shredded fontina cheese on top of the vegetables.
7) Repeat step 6 above and make your final layer just the noodles, sauce and fontina cheese.
8) Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on the counter and spray the area within the diameter of your pan with the cooking spray. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, cooking spray side down. Spraying the interior of the foil with cooking spray will help keep your melted cheese from sticking to the foil and stay on your pasta. Bake the lasagna in the oven for one hour. After one hour, remove the foil and continue to bake the lasagna for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.
9) Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before cutting. Letting the lasagna rest, allows the noodles to soak up more of the liquid, and the cheese to thicken, so your lasagna doesn’t fall apart when you cut it.