Pumpkin Turkey Lasagna {It’s not about the meal…}

pumpkin lasagna

I started it. And for a short time, I was “religious” about it. I did it maybe two dozen times. But as time went on, I got “busy.” Or I “forgot.” The last time was 9 years ago.


When Husband and I got married and built our house, I couldn’t wait to start entertaining together.

So I thought I’d start a dinner-party “journal” of sorts. You know – a log of who came over, what I served, how the whole thing went, etc. Not only did I think it would be a tremendous resource for future gatherings {don’t forget to buy ice!}, but what a great memento of time spent with friends old and new!

And at first it was. For each dinner we hosted, I wrote down whom we invited, what the menu was, how I did the table, and what the highlights were.

pumpkin turkey lasagna

There was the impromptu dance party to someone’s 80’s playlist. And the guy who brought his {obvious to us, but not to him} C-R-A-Z-Y girlfriend, who later accused him of attempted murder. And it wasn’t {isn’t} unusual for a science experiment to break out in the kitchen… we’ve been known to play “will it spiralize” – featuring whatever happens to be loitering in my produce bin or fruit bowl. Then there was the night we played this {in hindsight, STUPID} game called “Love Couples” which I’m pretty sure resulted in a number of spouses sleeping on a couch. {Maybe that was a “low”-light rather than a highlight. But nonetheless, it was a memory!}

The point is, what I intended as a notebook to help me improve my entertaining skills was, for a short time, an incredible memoir of evenings spent at our kitchen island or around our dining room table.

As time went on, maybe I felt I had enough experience that I didn’t need the notes. By now I knew we needed to pick up a bag of ice. By now I knew that I should only try ONE new recipe alongside some tried-and-trues {unless of course, these were REALLY good friends}. By now I knew that prep-work was everything, otherwise I’d never get to visit with our guests.

So I quit taking notes.

And I’m sad about that.

Because while I may have learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work when it comes to entertaining, what is incredibly precious and priceless are the highlights of each gathering.

So if I were to talk to me, back when I was getting a bit complacent… or to you, when you are just hitting your entertaining stride, I’d say…

Enjoy the moments when you’re in them.

Take some photos.

Clean the kitchen before you go to bed.

And the morning after? While the memories are as fresh as that cup of coffee you’re holding… Write down what you served. Who was there. What worked. What didn’t. What you talked about. And what the highlights were.And even if you think you’ve got this entertaining thing down? Do it anyway.

Because it’s not about the meal.

It’s about the memories.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Turkey Lasagna with Spinach & Béchamel Sauce
  • 1½ lb ground turkey breast
  • ¾ tsp sea salt, divided
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 15 ounces baby spinach
  • 2½ cups pumpkin pureé {not pumpkin pie filling}
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 6 Tbs white whole-wheat flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 9 whole wheat no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 5 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400º and mist a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Mist a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Add turkey, ¼ tsp each salt and black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring and crumbling turkey with spatula, until no longer pink, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using same skillet, reduce heat to medium and melt 1 tbsp butter. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until leaves are wilted and any liquid released is completely evaporated, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Let cool, then roughly chop.
  4. Mist same skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium. Add pumpkin, ¼ tsp salt and remaining ¼ tsp black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until excess water evaporates and pumpkin thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in sage; set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan, melt remaining ¼ cup butter on medium. When butter begins to foam, add flour and stir until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour milk into pan while you whisk. Increase heat to high and bring to a steady simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Whisk in nutmeg and remaining ¼ tsp salt. Remove from heat.
  6. Spread one-third of the sauce (about 1⅓ cups) in prepared baking dish. Top with 4 noodles, half of pumpkin, half of turkey, half of spinach and 2 oz of mozzarella. Repeat layers, starting with sauce and ending with mozzarella. Top with remaining 4 noodles, remaining one-third of sauce, remaining 1 oz mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with nonstick foil {or mist regular foil with cooking spray}. Bake in center of oven until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and switch to broil on high. With lasagna still center of oven, broil until cheese is lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
This is great for entertaining - make and assemble as early as the day before, so all you have to do is bake and serve.

I have made this with regular {not "no-boil"} whole wheat noodles - but that added the step of cooking them first. It's equally delicious.

You could also substitute mushrooms for the turkey for a vegetarian option.


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4 Responses to Pumpkin Turkey Lasagna {It’s not about the meal…}

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