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Monday, December 30, 2013

DIY Farmer's Cheese and Radicchiously Good Lasagna

Pumpkin and Radicchio Lasagna
1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles
Olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head of radicchio, shredded
2-15 oz cans of organic pumpkin
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 TSP nutmeg
1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
2 cups soft farmer's cheese, or ricotta
1 cup grated Pecorino, divided
2 cups grated Fontina, divided

Cheese making is an amazing process. Different variations on a few simple ingredients can produce wildly different results. Farmer's cheese (a soft white cheese that's a cross between cream cheese and ricotta) is definitely one of the simpler cheeses to make, and there is so much you can do with it. Reduce the draining time for creamier results, mix with fresh herbs, or press for paneer. 

If making your own cheesy goodness is something you have always wanted to try, I highly recommend picking up one of Urban Cheesecraft's DIY kits. They come with everything you need including cheesecloth, citric acid and cheese salt. The hardest part is waiting for your milk to come to the right temperature. Check out Urban Cheesecraft here for recipes or to buy one of their fab kits!

Now that I have all this cheese, it's time to put it to good use. My winter-inspired lasagna pairs sweet pumpkin with bitter radicchio for a radicchiously good meal (sorry, I couldn't resist).  In addition to the fresh farmer's cheese my lasagna needs something melty.   I love using Fontina in baked pastas since it melts beautifully, but doesn't take away from any of the other flavors.  This dish is truly decadent and is perfect for any holiday gathering. Your guests will surely be impressed!  

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until soft, add radicchio. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a bowl combine pumpkin, milk, nutmeg and cayenne until smooth. In a separate bowl combine the farmer's cheese, 1/2 cup Pecorino and 1 cup of Fontina.

To assemble, coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. spread a thin layer of the pumpkin mixture at the bottom. Begin layering with the noodles, 1/3 of the pumpkin, 1/3 radicchio, and 1/3 cheese mixture and repeat. Top with remaining Pecorino and Fontina. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and broil for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly.

Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

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The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.