Pumpkin and Goat’s Cheese Lasagne with Yoghurt and Cardamom

I come back to this recipe again and again because it is the best variation of lasagne I have ever thought up. The yoghurt sauce is lighter in consistency than the usual béchamel and has a far more interesting flavour, which complements the sweet, golden pumpkin. I use sheep’s milk yoghurt but you can also use full-cream cow’s milk yoghurt. Melted goat’s cheese is irresistible, so all in all it is a wonderful mixture. Lasagne is perfect for a party as it can be prepared well in advance and then cooked when you need it, or kept warm for some time. Serve with a mixed green salad.

Ingredients

  • 900 g/2 lb piece pumpkin
  • 2 small to medium onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons dried green peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 225 g/8 oz goat’s cheese log
  • 150-175 g/5-6 oz fresh lasagne sheets
  • 2 rounded tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 425 g/15 oz plain yoghurt
  • 2 heaped tablespoons coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • black pepper

Method

Remove any seeds or stringy parts from the pumpkin. Cut off the skin and slice the flesh into 5-7.5cm/2-3in pieces. Steam or boil until soft, then drain, put in a bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Meanwhile, peel and chop the onions. Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions over a gentle heat, stirring frequently, until soft. Extract the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar, then add the green peppercorns and grind roughly. Stir the ground cardamom and peppercorns into the pumpkin with the caster sugar and season to taste with salt. Then stir in the fried onions. Spread the remaining olive oil over the bottom of a large rectangular ovenproof dish about 1.2-1.7 litres/2-3 pints in capacity. Slice the goat’s cheese across in thin slices without cutting off the rind. Arrange a layer of lasagne sheets over the bottom of the oiled dish. Then spoon a third of the pumpkin and onion mixture evenly over the pasta. Arrange a third of the goat’s cheese slices on top of the pumpkin, followed by another layer of lasagne sheets, and so on, ending with a layer of pasta.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Put the cornflour into a saucepan, add the milk and stir until smooth. Stir in the yoghurt, then put on the heat and bring to the boil, stirring in one direction only. Lower the heat and allow barely to simmer, still stirring in one direction, for 8-10 minutes. Then season sparingly with salt and a little black pepper and spoon the sauce evenly over the lasagne. Lastly, sprinkle with the Parmesan. Cook the lasagne on the centre shelf of the oven for about 35 minutes, until it is speckled brown on top.

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