Kale and Italian Sausage Lasagna with Pumpkin Béchamel

By Mary Catherine Tee
October 13, 2015
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Author Notes: This autumn lasagna was inspired at the Portland Farmer's Market amid the baskets of pumpkins and squash and the piles of kale. Since the air is cooler, I naturally gravitate towards rich food, and this certainly is that. Layers of kale, Italian sausage, sugar-pie pumpkin béchamel, herbed-ricotta, and fresh mozzarella marry perfectly between lasagna noodles. The béchamel base is of the one-and-only Julia Child (from 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking') with some pureed cooked pumpkin and nutmeg added for depth. Mary Catherine Tee

Food52 Review: WHO: Mary Catherine Tee is no stranger to our contests! She’s had 2 other recipes featured as finalists and 7 Community Picks.
WHAT: A rich lasagna with all the fall flavors.
HOW: Do as you would for a classic lasagna, except put pumpkin in your béchamel and a kale and Italian sausage in between your layers.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Lasagna can, at times, feel too heavy—laden with cheese, sauce, and more sauce. This lasagna solves that by adding kale, which helps to cut through the richness. Plus, it puts pumpkin béchamel! A fun fall twist on a classic sauce.
The Editors

Serves: 12

Pumpkin Béchamel

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups hot milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin or winter squash

For the lasagna

  • 15 lasagna noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds bulk sweet Italian sausage
  • 8 cups kale
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh mozzarella (shredded or sliced)
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom 2 1/2-quart saucepan, then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth, somewhat loose paste. Stir over medium heat until the butter and flour foam together for 2 minutes without coloring more than a buttery yellow. Remove from heat.
  3. When the bubbling stops, pour in the hot milk at once, whisking vigorously to blend thoroughly. Then whisk rather slowly over moderately high heat, scraping along the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce comes to a simmer; simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  4. Stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and pumpkin. Simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Drain pasta. The pasta will be slightly cooked and will finish cooking in the oven.
  6. In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook through, until all the pink is gone, stirring occasionally. After sausage has cooked, drain all but 2 Tbsp. fat. Add kale and garlic stirring to coat kale with oil/fat. Cook until wilted. Add pepper and remove from heat.
  7. Mix ricotta, eggs, and sage in a bowl. Set aside.
  8. To assemble the lasagna: add 1 cup of béchamel to the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Cover bottom by layering 4-5 lasagna noodles lengthwise.
  9. Spread 1/2 the ricotta mixture over noodles. Add 1/2 of kale-sausage mixture on top of the ricotta. Cover with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Pour 1 cup béchamel over the mozzarella.
  10. Add another layer of noodles, remaining ricotta, kale-sausage mixture, and mozzarella. Top with last layer of noodles. Pour remaining béchamel over the top layer of noodles. Sprinkle with parmesan over top.
  11. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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