Thank you to Pollinate Media Group and Barilla for sponsoring this post.
Lasagna is one of those dishes I never tire of (dangling participle, I know). In fact, whenever asked the proverbial “if you could only eat one dish every day the rest of your life…” lasagna is always one of the options.
Now, the fact is I likely would tire of any dish if I had to eat it every day for the rest of my life. That said, if lasagna was my very last meal, I think I could die a happy woman.
Especially if it was this lasagna. Not only droolingly delicious, but hey – it would give me an added boost of nutrition to take with me to the next life!
This time I wanted to make something a little more original. I had a small sugar pumpkin on hand and had just steamed, pureed and frozen some “kale cubes” for my kids’ smoothies (and that’s a story for another time), and somehow it all came together: Sausage complements pumpkin beautifully while providing a different range of flavors to the standard ground beef. Kale, a superfood, is a great alternative to spinach and adds a touch of tartness to the sweetness of the pumpkin. And provolone cheese provides an additional layer of flavor to the mozzarella and Parmesan. Lastly, pine nuts – they not only pair well with provolone, but add a nice, nutty and earthy element to the overall combination of flavors in this fabulous lasagna.
With the vision of the final dish in my mind, I dashed into Safeway to pick up a box of Barilla Lasagna noodles and a couple jars of Barilla Tuscan Herb Sauce (FYI: Current in-store promotion – buy a box of Barilla lasagna and a jar of Barilla sauce and save $1). I grabbed a bunch of kale while I was at it and headed home to get to work.
The end result was wonderful! We invited my family over to join us for dinner and it was hit down to the very last bite.
* Note to food bloggers: In order to get that perfect photo with all the individual layers neatly showing you have to wait until the lasagna is cool before cutting it. I was too impatient, the lasagna was too tempting, and I was too hungry. Next time.
Let’s get started!
Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the ground sausage until about half is no longer pink.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add some extra virgin olive oil if the mixture is too dry.
While that’s cooking, dice the pumpkin.
Add the pumpkin and cook for another 7-8 minutes.
While that’s cooking, chop the kale. Be sure to discard the hard stems.
Add the kale and cook for another 2 minutes until the kale begins to wilt.
Add both jars of tomato sauce.
Add the fennel, sage, salt, pepper, sugar, and pine nuts.
Note: The Barilla Tuscan Herb Sauce is already seasoned with a variety of herbs, but we’re adding extra fennel and sage anyway to give added emphasis to the fabulous sausage flavor.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.
Your Pumpkin, Kale and Sausage Lasagna sauce is ready!
Combine the cottage cheese, egg, salt, and parsley in a medium bowl.
In a 9×13 baking dish, spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce on the bottom.
Layer 4 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.
Spread 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the noodles.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella over the cottage cheese mixture followed by 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese.
Repeat: Sauce, noodles, cottage cheese mixture, shredded cheese and Parmesan, sauce, noodles, cottage cheese mixture, sauce, shredded cheese and Parmesan
Pick it up. Pretty heavy, isn’t it? Ever wonder just how heavy? I always wonder. So I finally weighed it. 11 pounds. That’s 11 pounds of pure yumminess!
Cover with aluminum foil.
* Kitchen Tip: Spray the side of the foil touching the cheese with olive or vegetable oil to keep the cheese from sticking to it.
** Recommended: Place the lasagna in the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld. Then remove it from the fridge about an hour prior to baking and then bake as instructed. It will taste even better if you let it sit overnight before baking!
Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown around the edges. Let the lasagna sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- 1 pound bulk/ground Italian sausage
- 3 cups diced sugar pumpkin (sugar pumpkin is a little firmer and has more flavor), about ¼ inch cubes
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large bunch kale, washed, drained, and chopped, hard stalks discarded (about 8 cups loosely packed)
- 2 (24 oz) jars Barilla Tuscan Herb Sauce or other quality tomato/pasta sauce
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 16 ounce container small curd cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- ¾ pound shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¾ pound shredded provolone cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 12 Barilla lasagna noodles or other quality lasagna, prepared al dente according to package instructions
- Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the ground sausage until about half of it is no longer pink. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the pumpkin and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Add the kale and cook 2 minutes until it's wilted.
- Add both jars of pasta sauce (see note), the fennel seeds, sage, salt, pepper, sugar, and pine nuts. Stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese, egg, salt and parsley. Set aside.
- In a 9x13 inch casserole dish, spread 1½ cups of the sauce on the bottom. Layer 4 lasagna noodles over the sauce. Spread ⅓ of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with ⅓ of both mozzarella and provolone and ⅓ of the Parmesan. Repeat: Sauce, noodles, cottage cheese, shredded cheese and Parmesan, sauce, noodles, cottage cheese, sauce, shredded cheese and Parmesan.
- Spray aluminum foil with olive or vegetable oil and cover (oily side down) the casserole dish. Refrigerate overnight for maximum flavor to allow the flavors to meld. Remove from fridge 1 hour before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown around the edges. Let the lasagna sit for 15 minutes before serving.