Vegetarian Pumpkin Spelt Lasagne – #FBS4Sandy

November 13, 2012
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It was dreary during our last two days in NYC. The grey skies and misty drizzle encouraged the continuation of my hairdryer boycott and although we complained a bit, it didn’t stop us from getting out of the apartment to enjoy the city.

It was still dark as we headed to Laguardia at 6.30 am on Thursday morning. Arriving in Mexico eight or so hours later we were greeted with a stunning blue sky obscured only by night and an occasional passing wisp of a pretend cloud.

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On Friday evening we heard about Frankenstorm on the news and looked at each other in disbelief. We hypothesized that it would be the same as Irene, much ado about nothing really, a passing thunderstorm, more bark than bite, but knew immediately how lucky we were to have left when we did.

When 80% of the wedding guests had their Sunday flights delayed until Wednesday we realised it was much more serious this time around. Then the photos started rolling in.

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My family were lucky, mum had scary wind but no damage, N & L were far enough inland in Philly to just get rain, Boston took a beating but wasn’t any worse for wear and even my step-sister in Brooklyn didn’t have too many issues. They were lucky, many weren’t.

Food Bloggers Support for Sandy

In response to the devastation, and to that feeling of living too far away to help out in person, a couple of bloggers – Barb from Creative Culinary and Jenn from Jenn Cuisine – decided to organise a virtual event to show support and drive donations for the victims, and heros, of Sandy.

‘Food Bloggers Support for Sandy’ – #FBS4Sandy – began last Thursday but will continue throughout November.

If you are a blogger, join in and show your support. Post a comfort dish you would bring to a friend in need and spread the word. Let people know that although the sensationalism and heavy weather and crazy news coverage is over, people are still without power or clean water or homes, and winter has set in.

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If you can, donate to help the families hit by Sandy. Some of the larger charities listed on Barb and Jenn’s sites include:

  • American Red Cross providing food, shelter, and other forms of support. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or [in the US] text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • The Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims.
  • Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies as part of their disaster relief program.

Katherine Martinelli has also dedicated her weekly blog hop to the cause and in her post has a list of smaller, grass roots organisations helping out in the hardest hit areas.

If you want to follow along you can check out the hashtag #FBS4Sandy on Twitter.

This Pumpkin Lasagne is perfect to cook up and take to a neighbour or a stranger in need. It is much lighter than traditional ones which are laden with gallons of bechamel and lbs of cheese, and serves up as well cold as it does hot. It tastes even better when shared. In the words of a very wise postcard I just received, ‘Love people, cook them tasty food‘.

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Pumpkin Lasagne

This hearty pasta dish uses thick natural yoghurt instead of ricotta or bechamel to create a light and fresh twist on vegetarian lasagne. The noodles are layered-in un-cooked and everything melds together as it bakes. Re-heat with a bit of extra sauce poured over the top. Share with friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 dried whole spelt lasagne sheets
  • 1 kg [2.2 lb] butternut pumpkin, peeled and sliced into 1/2 cm [1/4 in] thick rounds
  • 3 c tomato passata*
  • 1 1/2 c natural greek yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c grated semi-hard cheese like goat chevette or provolone*
  • 1/2 c grated sheep Pecorino or Parmesan, divided
  • 2-3 Tbsp mixed Italian herbs, divided
  • Sea salt
  • 1 c picked basil leaves, packed

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 180C [350F]. Spread a couple Tbsp sauce in a thin layer on the base of a 22×33 cm [9x13 in] ceramic baking dish.

Whisk together egg and yoghurt with half the grated Parmesan and set aside. Keep remaining Parm for the last few minutes of cooking. Toss the grated semi-hard cheese with 1 Tbsp Italian herbs.

Layer:
1/3 of the pasta sheets, breaking pieces off an extra sheet as necessary to fill gaps
1/3 of the tomato sauce
1/3 of the Italian herbs and sea salt
1/2 of the pumpkin slices, fit in like a puzzle
1/2 of the yoghurt mixture, dollop and spread evenly
1/2 of the basil leaves
1/3 of the grated cheese
Repeat a second time in the same order, then finish with remaining pasta, sauce, herbs and cheese.

Coat a large piece of aluminum foil with oil spray and crimp over the pan. Bake covered in pre-heated oven for 1 hour. Remove foil, sprinkle over remaining grated Parmesan and return to oven for 5-10 minutes until just browned.

Allow to cool before cutting into 8 pieces. Serve with extra sauce and a side salad.

*NOTES:

  • You can substitute the tomato passata with no-salt canned chopped tomato in juice but I am trying to avoid tomato products in cans these days due to the whole BPA thing.
  • Any melt-y semi-hard cheese such as chevette goat or provolone will work just fine, however gruyere would be good too. You can of course go the standard mozzarella.

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6 Responses to Vegetarian Pumpkin Spelt Lasagne – #FBS4Sandy

  1. Katherine Martinelli on November 13, 2012 at 4:14 am

    This lasagna looks so good! Perfect for this time of year, and definitely comforting. So glad you got out of ny when you did!

  2. Barbara | Creative Culinary on November 13, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Thank you so much for participating; I’m just grateful that you and your family are all OK.

    I can’t leave though without commenting on this dish; I’ve done a tomato and mushroom lasagna but this is over the top unique and sounds fabulous…thanks for sharing.

  3. Christine on November 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Beautiful looking lasagne JJ! And a great cause behind it too :)

  4. Martyna @ Wholesome Cook on November 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Great post JJ, you were lucky with your trip! I’ve been through a cyclone (Larry in 2006 which was only a category 4) and it was one of the scariest experiences in my life. We have donated some funds to the red cross… Our thoughts are with everyone affected.

  5. Megan on November 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    That looks so delicious. I could eat that whole dish! Beautiful photos too.

  6. Sara (Belly Rumbles) on November 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    So glad that your family fared well against Sandy, as you said, so many didn’t. Such a great idea and cause.

    Great looking lasagne and I like the idea of using yoghurt instead of ricotta or bechamel, a nice twist on a classic.

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