recipes

Pumpkin and caramelised onion lasagna with blue cheese sauce

left: original artwork, right: the tea towel itself (creased, stained and used)
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Inspired by the flavours of Bologna’s signature pasta dish, tortelloni di zucca; sweet pumpkin and caramelized onions, cut through by sharp cheese and the spicy nuttiness of nutmeg. This is a soft, delicate lasagna which needs to be eaten with a peppery salad and dry sparkling wine. 

6-8 servings
1-1.5 hours

300g fresh lasagna sheets (if you can only get dried sheets, you may need to very briefly boil these first as this isn’t the sauciest lasagna, so dried may cook too slowly)
2 small, sweet pumpkins
such as delicata (around 2kg — use a standard supermarket squash if you can’t find pumpkins)
2 small red or white onions
1 tbsp brown sugar
¾ tsp nutmeg
(if you can freshly grate it, do!)
Handful of toasted pine nuts
6-10 sage leaves
fried in butter or oil until crisp
4-6 amaretti biscuits
(medium sized)

For the blue cheese béchamel
750g milk
(almond or dairy)
250g double cream
(or replace with milk if you don’t have this)
200g blue cheese
, crumbled (a sharp stilton works well)
8 heaped tbsp plain white flour
100g butter

  • Cut the squash or pumpkin into thirds with the skin on (seeds removed) and bake with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt at 180 (fan) for 30-40 minutes or until soft (but not too soft). Turn once halfway through. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  • To make the caramelized onions, thinly slice both onions. On a medium-low heat, heat a saucepan for which you have a lid and add a glug of oil. When the oil is hot add the sliced onions, a tsp of salt and the brown sugar. Add a very small splash of water and put the lid on. Keep an eye on them, stirring every few minutes to ensure they don’t catch. They should become jammy after around 20 mins, remove from the heat and set aside. 
  • Make the béchamel by melting the butter in a large saucepan on a low-medium heat then whisking in the flour. When a paste forms, slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly. When all the milk is added and no lumps remain, add the cheese and whisk until the cheese has melted. Set aside. 
  • Heat your oven to 180 (fan). 
  • The pumpkin should be cool enough to peel now. Discard the skin (or freeze to use for a stock in the future!) and roughly mash with a fork — you want it to remain a little lumpy. Stir in the toasted pine nuts, crumbled amaretti biscuits, fried sage leaves, nutmeg, caramelized onions and season well. 
  • Cover the base of a baking tray (roughly 30x20cm) with a thick layer of the béchemal, then a layer of pasta followed by another layer of béchemal. Add a third of your pumpkin mix, a layer of pasta, then béchemal and the second third of your pumpkin mix. Repeat until you run out of mix, finishing with a layer of béchemal as the final layer. 
  • Bake for 30 mins or until the top is beginning to brown and bubble. Serve with a peppery salad and grated parmesan.