November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Lasagna and Kashkaval

After Halloween, there are a few questions that come to mind:
One is - What to do with an enormous amount of my children's candies and the second one is: What to do with leftover Halloween pumpkins (if they're still fresh)?
Mostly people think that with a pumpkin, the best option is to make a sweet pumpkin pie. I wouldn't agree...
So I have a great solution for the second problem - a gourmet and yet savory pumpkin dish, that everyone will love. Even the biggest pumpkin "skeptics" will ask for more!
Unfortunately, I still haven't found good solution for the first and biggest problem!



 Every exquisite dish usually has one special, often "secret" ingredient. In this one, that is one of my favorite cheeses - Kashkaval (Кашкавал/Качкаваљ/Kačkavalj). It originated in Balkans: from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece to Serbia and is usually made by hand. This hard cheese is made from sheep's milk from mountainous, high altitudes, which gives this cheese very unique and strong taste. From Stara Planina (Bulgaria and Serbia) comes one of the best Kashkavals of all.
 It should not be confused with Italian  Caciocavallo.


Kashkaval in Pirot-Serbia is made by hand!

 In honor of this great cheese, I added few more eclectic recipes where you can successfully/tastefully use it!


Pumpkin Lasagna:

For lasagna:
1 (250 g) package of  lasagna sheets,                         
1/2 small pumpkin (peeled and cleaned),
2 tomatoes,
1 onion,
2-3 tbsp Parmesan,
2 eggs
salt and  pepper

For yogurt bechamel sauce:
2 tablespoons oil,
1 tablespoon of butter,
3 tbsp of white flour,
1/2 -1 cup of diluted plain yogurt (1/2 water 1/2 yogurt) or very watery yogurt

150 g of grated Kashkaval cheese,

Cook lasagna sheets and leave aside oiled, so the don't stick together, or make your own lasagna pasta sheets with a recipe from my Pasta page.


Grate your cleaned pumpkin. Saute chopped onion in a pan and after few minutes add the pumpkin. Stir and cook more for about fifteen minutes until is soft. Add pepper and salt to your taste. Take it from the stove and leave to cool a bit. Add 2 eggs. Mix well, leave aside.
For the bechamel sauce: heat the oil and butter, stir in the flour, cook a bit, then pour yogurt in, stirring constantly to avoid lumps to form. Cook until start bubbling. Take aside.
Grease baking sheet with oil and arrange chopped tomato at the bottom or 1/2 of small tomato can. Lay first layer of lasagna, than bechamel sauce, pumpkin mix and grated Kashkaval cheese etc... Finish with the pasta sheets, pour the rest of the chopped tomato (or can) over and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 20-25 minutes at 200 C/ 375F. At the end, bake uncovered for few minutes more.



More recipes with Kashkaval cheese*:


Bean and cheese Moussaka
   

 
300 g of dry red beans or 2 cans of canned red beans 1 lb/0.5 kg of mixed ground meat (1/2 pork, 1/2 beef), 100 g of grated Kashkaval cheese,
50 g feta cheese crumbled
2 chopped onions,
1 grated carrot,
1/2 tsp of hot pepper,
1 small can of whole tomatoes
salt,oil
chopped parsley for decoration


For the sauce:
2 eggs
1 cup of thick Greek yogurt or light sour cream,






First, cook your beans for a couple of hours until they are soft (is you're not using canned beans). Saute chopped onion in a pan, along with grated carrot and ground meat, salt and hot pepper,  for about fifteen minutes. Grease an ovenproof dish (clay is the best), arrange the bottom part with a layer of red beans, spread part of the canned tomatoes, than a layer of meat mixture, 1/2 of grated cheese and feta and then repeat the process until the last layer are beans. Prepare the sauce by mixing eggs with yogurt/sour cream and sprinkle with leftover Kashkaval cheese. Bake 25 minutes on 200 C/ 375 F.


Chicken Rafaello's







Ingredients:

1/2 lb or 250 g mix feta/cottage cheese, 
1lb/500 g of chicken white meat,
4 boiled eggs,
50 g ham,
2tbs olive oil
1 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped capers 
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
100 g finely grated Kashkaval or
 Pecorino Romano cheese








Cook chicken in water, cool it and finely chop or grind it in a food processor. Mash the feta and cottage cheese with a fork. Hard cook the eggs, cool and finely chop them, then add the white meat and mashed cheese. Mix well to get a compact mass and add the oil. Add sun dried tomatoes, capers and basil. If it's not salty enough, add salt.
Cut the ham into bigger pieces, and finely grate Kashkaval cheese. From the obtained mixture make small balls, and in the middle of each insert ham cube. Roll them in the grated Kashkaval and serve.



* You can replace  Kashkaval with any other hard sheep's cheese that you like.

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