I close my eyes to the bright lights of Christmas, which in Italy will remain on until the Epiphany, and finally open them to my favorite season. Winter.
In Italy, it officially started on 21 December.
But during those days, I am immersed in the Christmas atmosphere. Distracted by lights, trays of biscuits and lasagne to bake, pack and deliver, lists of things to do, gifts to buy, menus to define -even if they are the same from decades.
I said, taken by Christmas and its warm and welcoming atmosphere, I don’t give importance to the calendar and the winter equinox.
But right after Christmas, it’s time to make room for winter, in the wardrobe and on the table where I welcome hot and nourishing dishes typical of this period. Like a steaming pan of lasagne. I made this pumpkin lasagna with shallot and provolone cheese. And I used carasau bread instead of pasta dough. It is a typical Sardinian flatbread, which you can eventually replace with burritos.
I prepared this lasagne with pumpkin and shallots using carasau bread instead of the traditional pasta dough (sfoglia).
Carasau bread is a thin flatbread made of flour, semolina, water, salt, and yeast. Baked twice, in the end, it is super crispy. If you can’t find carasau bread, burritos are a good alternative.
In both cases, adapt bread or pasta dough to your baking tray, as you would using sheets of egg pasta dough.
It isn’t the first time I have made a lasagna with carasau bread.
During the first lockdown of this year, using the time available to tidy up the pantry, I did a few experiments making my first lasagna without pasta dough, but with carasau bread and vegetables, using the béchamel sauce that is absent in this recipe.
HERE find the recipe.
Oven-baked pasta is a satisfying dish in any season, and perhaps at any temperature, but it is in winter that it is at its best.
The recipe I propose needs an essential list of ingredients: pumpkin, shallots from Romagna, smoked provola cheese, grated parmigiano. And the smell of nutmeg that works well with pumpkin.
The classic soffritto is replaced by a soffritto made only with finely chopped shallots and cooked in a large pan with olive oil, a few flakes of butter and salt. When shallots are soft, I add the pumpkin cut into little squares (pumpkin which I have previously made just soft in the oven) and salt. Without stirring too much so as not to break the pumpkin, I leave it on the heat to hum for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl I mix parmigiano and fresh grated nutmeg, be generous if you like.
Provola cheese, cut into thin slices or cubes, as you prefer, replaces the béchamel sauce.
All the ingredients, including the spice, mitigate the sweetness of the pumpkin while enhancing it. Easy and also quick to prepare, it taste is rich but balanced, with no one flavor prevailing over the others. And substantial, as the season requires.
If you prefer, substitute smoked provola with another cheese such as provola or scamorza. I recommend not using a cheese such as mozzarella, which releases too much liquid.
You can make lasagne with carasau, or traditional pasta dough sheets, or crêpes. And, of course, try very thin tortillas.
Pumpkin Lasagna With Shallots And Provola
rectangular baking tray 26×19, lasagna 5 layers
carasau bread, about 120g (or 5 large rectangular sheets of bread)
pumpkin, almost 1kg (or 600g cooked flesh)
(smoked) provola cheese, about 350g diced or thin sliced
grated parmigiano reggiano, 150g
(Romagna) shallots, about 20
grated nutmeg, 2g
salt, olive oil and butter to taste
Cook the whole pumpkin in the oven, already hot at 180C degrees in a static oven, and when it begins to be soft after about thirty minutes, remove from the oven and let it cool.
Clean the pumpkin removing skin, seeds and filaments and cut it into thin slices and then into cubes. Keep aside.
Clean and thinly slice the shallots and cook in a pan with oil, butter and salt until soft and dry. Add the pumpkin, a pinch of salt, oil if necessary and stir gently.
In a bowl, mix grated parmigiano with nutmeg and set aside.
To make pumpkin lasagna with carasau, need two pans: one for softening the carasau bread in water and olive oil, the other to be placed next to the first for the lasagne.
Grease the bottom of the pan you will use for the lasagne.
Pour cold water and a little olive oil into the other. Lay the first sheet of carasau bread so that it is covered by the water, and let it soften for about minute, then, gently (but if it breaks, it doesn’t matter), cover the bottom of the lasagne pan.
Remember to repeat the same process with each sheet of carasau bread.
After covering the bottom of the lasagne pan with a carasau base, add the pumpkin and shallot, sprinkle evenly and generously with parmigiano and top with provola cheese (if using sliced cheese, put at least 4 in each layer).
Cover with a sheet of softened carasau, then apply light pressure with your fingers to compact the first layer.
Now proceed as for the first layer putting pumpkin and shallot, parmigiano, provola cheese and, finally, carasau bread.
Dress the last layer of lasagne just with provola, plenty of parmigiano and a few flakes of butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes (180C degrees, static function).
Then turn up the oven temperature to 200C degrees and baking for 4-5 minutes until a crispy but not too dark crust forms.
Serve pumpkin lasagna piping hot.