Aired November 19, 2007
1 1/2 pounds bulk sweet Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey, whatever you like), casings removed
1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk (eyeball it)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
Few dashes fresh nutmeg
1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 375F.
Heat a large saut pan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons EVOO, about two turns of the pan. Add the sausage and cook until golden brown, breaking the meat up as it cooks with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Push the meat to one side of the pan and add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Cook 7-8 minutes, until tender, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the veggies are cooking, place a medium-size saut pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk into roux, breaking up any clumps. Bring the mixture to a bubble and add the pumpkin puree and nutmeg. Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for 2-3 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Spread about 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9" casserole dish. Layer three lasagna noodles over the sauce, then top them with about 1 cup of the meat mixture, a cup or so of the sauce and a palmful of cheese. Repeat these layers two times, topping the casserole with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon the remaining sauce over the noodles, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake the lasagna until the sauce is bubbling and pasta is baked through, about 45 minutes.
During the last ten minutes of baking, remove the aluminum foil to brown the cheese. Once out of the oven, allow the dish to rest a few minutes before serving.