Autumn Comfort Food: Pumpkin Lasagna, New Baby Edition

My heart is soaring.  Last night, on October 4, 2013, one of the most important people in my life did an amazing thing.  She gave birth to one of the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.  My friend gave birth to little Sofia last night and Sofia is beyond exceptionally amazing.  I can’t lie…I sobbed uncontrollably at the sight of her.  Bringing my own Olivia into this world was, as cliché as this is, truly the most amazing experience of my life.  No, I’m not saying there was no pain and that labor was a breeze.  I’m not saying that those first few weeks were all bliss.  There were many tears, some Olivia’s, mostly mine. There were struggles. There were frustrations beyond belief.  There was also an immense love I couldn’t comprehend.  I literally looked at her one day and started sobbing (ok, maybe, just maybe, I had tons of hormones going crazy, too), looked at TJ and couldn’t stop professing my love for her.  To see such a dear friend of mine about to embark on that same journey – it was just so overwhelming.

I also remember being overwhelmed by the immense amount of help and support we received from family and friends.  We had meals for days, clean laundry, little catnaps while Olivia was being rocked to sleep by someone we knew and loved.  We were so lucky.  I couldn’t wait to return that favor and be that support system for someone who has always been there for me.  (And if you’re wondering, this is the same friend who had the wonderful baby shower last month!)  One way TJ & I thought we should try and be of some help is to prepare a meal for them.  I like to prepare lasagnas for occasions like these because it is a wonderful comfort food, can be assembled ahead of time, or just made ahead of time and refrigerated.  Because my friend is a pumpkin fan, and because little Sofia has come right in time for our favorite season, Autumn, what better way to celebrate her arrival than with a Pumpkin Lasagna!  What I love about this lasagna, too, is that it has a little twist.  Instead of using traditional lasagna noodles, I use cheese ravioli as the ‘noodles’.  Delicious, right?  Let’s get started.

What You’ll Need:

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus a bit more for the top

1 finely chopped large yellow onion

1 finely chopped clove of garlic (if you’ve been reading my other posts, you know darn well by now that I almost always double or triple the amount of garlic called for in a recipe, so I put in about 3 cloves)

1 large bunch of Spinach, roughly chopped (Optional) **

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper

2 Tbsp freshly chopped sage

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 15-oz cans of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, but pure pumpkin)

1 pint of heavy cream

1 1/2 cups of grated Parmesan Cheese

1 1/2 packages of 18-24 oz of refrigerated cheese ravioli (upon our arrival to Trader Joe’s, we couldn’t find a plain cheese ravioli and opted for the Spinach and Ricotta ravioli. Yum!)

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What You’ll Do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter and add the onion to it.  Cook the onions for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and spinach (if using) and cook for about another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Add in the sage and nutmeg.  In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, heavy cream, 1 cup of Parmesan, and the remaining salt and pepper.

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Place a layer of ravioli in a buttered 9×13 baking dish.

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Top with half of the onion mixture and then almost half of the pumpkin mixture and spread evenly.

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Top this with another layer of ravioli.  Again, continue with the rest of the onion mixture and almost all of the pumpkin mixture (leave about 1 cup of the mixture).  Place one more layer of ravioli on the top and spread the remaining one cup of pumpkin mixture on the top.  Spread the Parmesan on top.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining butter, cut up into small pieces.

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Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for another 15 minutes.

** VARIATIONS **

Instead of spinach, which is optional anyways, you can always do 2 large bunches of Swiss Chard, roughly chopped with the stems removed.  Lovely!

I decided that I would assemble this ahead of time and just leave this in their refrigerator, left with some instructions taped to the top, so, unfortunately, I don’t have a finished product picture this go around.  I do hope, though, that when they get home with their new beautiful daughter, they can pop this in the oven, have something warm and comforting to eat that Tastes Oh-So-Good.

~ M ~

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