I have too many projects. I do that to myself. Besides the everyday work, the everyday study of the French language, there is life, there is food, there is writing, there is cooking. Sometimes all of the writing projects I have on my table in front of me get a little out of control. When things get stressful and I can’t stare at my kitchen or my desk anymore, it’s time for a road trip and ice cream.
The tourists are mostly gone. The roads are now calm and almost quiet and the towns are easy to maneuver through on foot. In celebration the husband and I went to Castellet, one of my favorite places in the Var. It’s set between Bandol and Cassis, high up on a hill that offers an amazing view going all the way out to the sea.
Besides cute shops and two very good restaurants there is L’Art Gourmand which makes amazing ice cream. The husband got cactus-lime and peach and I had strawberry and gingerbread. They also do rose, violet and lavender ice cream that are out of this world.
Inside the shop, you can also buy chocolates and dainty candies and cookies that are native to Provence. Like every space in Castellet, the building is renovated, Medieval stone. It’s luminous, the walls are pale, but there’s something about the shape – slightly uneven – that tells you it’s been there for hundreds of years.
And after you leave the shop, walk up a little hill, through little streets and eat your ice cream while looking out onto this view. Quiet and mountainous and full of vineyards.
It’s almost fall. While I’m holding onto the last remnants of summer fruits and vegetables with both hands, I couldn’t help but buy a slice of pumpkin at the market. But I had no idea what I’m going to do with it. So I tried Lasagna.
Pumpkin Vegetable Lasagna
- pesto (preferably homemade)
- lasagna sheets
- tomato sauce
- tomato paste or fresh tomatos
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Begin by roasting the pumpkin in the oven at 175°C for about 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender and soft. In the last 15 minutes of roasting, add eggplant, sliced to about 1/8 inch thickness.
When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, cut away the skin and in a bowl mash the pumpkin up like you would potatoes.
In a baking tin of your choice (I used my bread tin since it was a good size for two people), put a thin layer of tomato sauce mixed with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Place your lasagna sheets on top and then add a thin layer of mashed pumpkin, eggplant, ricotta, and on top spread half a teaspoon of pesto.
Add another layer of lasagna sheets and this time add tomato sauce and either your paste or fresh tomatos before continuing on with the rest of your layers. I have three layers of each ingredient, but I was over zealous and wanted to use all of the pumpkin.
When you’re done add the final layer of lasagna sheets, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and tomato sauce. Top with shredded cheese of choice: comté, gruyère, parmesan, mozzarella etc.
The beauty of vegetable lasagna is that you can prepare it before hand and stick it in the fridge for cooking later in the day. I would have taken a photograph of the finished product, but the husband and I were too hungry.
It’s an odd combination, I know. But the sweetness of the pumpkin offsets the tang of the ricotta and tomato and mixes nicely with the nut of the eggplant. Everything comes together with an easy, soft texture and flavors that are each subtle, but noticeable that blend and don’t overpower.
Now this project is over for today and I have to move on to others. One story revision and guacamole await.