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
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
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.
Stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and pumpkin. Simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
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.
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.
Mix ricotta, eggs, and sage in a bowl. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
I’m an old soul. My favorite Saturday morning activity is watching birds on the feeder while drinking strong, black coffee out of my favorite hand-thrown mug. My favorite place to kill time is in antique stores. The less organized the better. I like full-bodied red wines and bitter IPAs. I live for feeling the warmth of sunshine and hearing the stillness of freshly fallen snow. I can thank my stint in Alaska for that. I have salt water in my veins, having grown up in Eastern NC, and (shhh…don’t tell any of my Mainer friends this about me) I prefer blue crab over lobster.