Chicken & pumpkin lasagne
This is a recipe out of my bestselling cookbook, Homemade Happiness. It’s a superb meal that positively bursts with flavour – with tender chicken (free-range is best) in a rich tomato sauce, creamy pumpkin and lashings of glorious cheesy white sauce.
Prep time – 45 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes plus resting
600-700g chicken thighs, boneless skinless
600g pumpkin, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup red wine
½ cup tomato paste
1 ½ cups chicken stock
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp dried oregano
3 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (2 stalks)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups chopped spinach
1 x 400g packet lasagna sheets
Cheesy white sauce
½ cup flour
3 ½ cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan or cheddar (or a mixture) plus extra for topping
Preheat the oven to 180c regular bake.
Heat 1 tbsp oil over a high heat in a large frying pan. When the pan is hot, add the chicken and brown on each side. Transfer to a large roasting dish or tray. Toss the pumpkin pieces in olive oil and arrange on the try with the chicken. Season everything with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Set aside to cool slightly, then roughly mash the pumpkin and shred the chicken.
Add a splash of olive oil to the chicken pan with the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the wine, turn up the heat and let it bubble for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, stock, tomatoes, herbs and balsamic. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until reduced to a nice thick sauce still with a bit of juice left. Add the spinach and shredded chicken with 5 minutes to go. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Melt butter with the flour in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes (don’t let it brown). Remove from heat and slowly add all the warmed milk in a thin stream, whisking as you go. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until thickened. Stir through the cheese. Season to taste and remove from heat.
Grease a large baking dish. Spread a third of the tomato mixture on the bottom and add a third of the cheese sauce. Add a layer of lasagne sheets on top. Repeat until ingredients are used up, adding a layer of mashed pumpkin somewhere along the way, finishing with a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle with extra cheese.
Cover with foil, cut a couple of steam holes, and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and grill until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Rest for about 10 minutes before you serve it if you can to let the juices settle.