Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Pumpkin Lasagne

We arrived in Cannes yesterday afternoon, gracefully motoring in as Arnold Schwarzenegger finished up his tea on one of the big Super Yachts and left with his entourage of body guards…was it something we said? Anyway, this is what it’s all about here. Its all glamour and sparkly, shiny, expensive boats and women.  I might have to start brushing my hair in the morning.

On the opposite end of the glamour scale, I’ve had a few requests for the recipe for my kitchen-sink-lasagne which featured briefly in my last blog.  It may not be very ‘Cote D'azure’, but is a great way to feed lots of hungry mouths in a very short space of time. Everything but the kitchen sink can go in it, hence the name (I’m sure you hadn’t guessed that) And it costs nothing to make. Ace.

More often than not, I find myself with around 90 minutes to cook lunch for 12 people  and can’t afford to take the time to go to the shops. Kitchen-sink-lasagne day I looked into the fridge to find 4 courgettes, a quarter of a bit of a pumpkin, and some very odd bits of cheese. Thus followed a huge lasagne!  So here it is and obviously you can use most left over vege’s that are in the fridge. If you have onions, you can make a feast out of anything in my book;

For a lasagne for 6-10 people you will need;

3-4 onions, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 medium sized potatoes, chopped into small cubes
Pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and chopped as small as the potato
4 courgettes, grated; the water squeezed out of them
100 g pinenuts, dry fried in a pan till golden
A box of dried lasagne sheets (or fresh if you have)
A white sauce (bought or homemade, instructions below)
Any bits of left over cheese, rind and all!
tsp of fennel seeds

  •         Because you’re probably in a hurry, the lasagne will cook quicker if it’s soaked first, so put a load of the pasta sheets in a dish of water. Unless you have fresh in which case skip that bit.
  •         Gently sauté your onions in some olive oil or sunflower oil with ½ tsp sugar. (I usually do this with onions, I find it helps drawer out their sweetness and helps round off the flavour of most dishes. My grandma taught me that)
  •         In another pan, at the same time as your onions sauté the pumpkin and potatoes in some oil until soft. Don’t fry them too hard, they don’t want to be browned, just soft. Add the fennel seeds and continue sautéing for a few more minutes. Add to your onions.
  •         Squeeze as much of the water out of the grated courgettes as you can. Fry this in some oil for a few minutes then add to the rest of the vege mixture along with the toasted pinenuts. Season with some salt and pepper. 

For the white sauce

¾ pint of milk
2 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp plain flour
A dash of grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
100-150g of bits and bobs of cheese,
  •         Now for the tasty, cheesy white sauce bit;  If you have a carton or jar of white sauce then just heat gently and add your finely chopped or grated bits of cheese. I used some goat’s cheese, parmesan and some French Cantal but cheddar or anything would be great too.
  •         To make the sauce from scratch plop a good tbsp or about 50g butter into a small-ish saucepan. Melt the butter then add 2 wooden spoons worth of flour or 2 heaped tbsp. Stir into the butter on a medium heat so that’s its sizzling. When it looks a bit honey-combed or granular then take off the heat. Now start adding some milk bit by bit, stirring loads with a wooden spoon or whisk to incorporate it fully into the flour and butter after each addition. It gets a bit doughy but that’s cool. Eventually it’ll start turning into a nice looking sauce. When you have incorporated all the milk put back onto a medium heat and keep stirring all the time till its thickened. When it has thickened nicely, let it simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
  •         Take off the heat and then add you cheese, nutmeg and seasoning till you're very happy with the taste. Please use freshly grated nutmeg. The pre-grated stuff is truly useless. Make sure your sauce is not too thick; you need a good amount of spreadable cheesy, creamy sauce.
  •         Now you can start layering. Spread a few spoonfuls of the veg mixture across the base of your dish. Just a light smearing of it is all you need to start off with. Lay your sheets of soaked lasagne sheets over the vege's so that there are no gaps.
  •         Next spoon about a third of the vege mixture over the lasagne sheets. Then pour over a good dribble of the cheese sauce till it thinly covers the vege mixture. Top this with more lasagne sheets.
  •         Keep repeating this process till you have come to the top of your dish. I like to finish off with a last layer of pasta sheets then a final topping of cheese sauce and some grated cheese.
  •         Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, till nice and golden and bubbly on top.

I’ll be off to the Cannes market as soon as possible so I’ll be coming up with some slightly more, good looking, Cannes worthy dishes for the crew. And it’s getting hot, slowly but surely. So it’s definitely salad time of year again.

Please do use the comment box below if you have any requests for recipes or you tried a dish and wish to tell me how it went. I'd love to know. Cheers!
See you soon and hopefully with a bit more of a tan. I really need to try to fit in a bit more round here. But then I would still like to keep eating so I'll let you know how it goes. Who really cares about being a size 8 still at the age of 33?