Squash is not a food that I experienced with much variety as a child. My father enjoyed it mashed, with butter and salt, and little other embellishment, and his favorite variety was blue hubbard, which was enormous, so we were guaranteed to have to eat it for a while if we bought one, and which I found to be mealy and kind of flavorless (although that opinion was clearly colored by the perception of a child who already didn’t enjoy squash much, I haven’t put it to a test in adulthood yet.)
Thanksgiving dinner invariably included a bowl of mashed squash to Dad’s specifications, and as I grew older, I realized that I didn’t dislike squash, I was just more partial to some than others. I became a fan of buttercup (or kabocha) squash — with butter, salt and a bit of brown sugar — and as a result, became more open to trying other varieties. Now, I’m a fan of most squash (except that dreaded hubbard) and at this time of year, I like to try to find ways to sneak it into everything. Last year, Ian and I made two butternut quinoa pies (a Martha Stewart pilaf recipe which I adore, and will probably make again this year, unless it turns out I’m the only one who likes it) one for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, and one for Ian’s. This past week, I’ve been experimenting with other ways to enjoy it — mixed with ricotta as the stuffing for tortelloni that look like they belong in a fine-dining restaurant but can easily be made in your kitchen, mashed and spread on pizza dough as a change of pace from traditional red sauce (inspired by a pie at OTTO in Portland, which I have wanted to try for ages, but haven’t been able to yet) and roasted and tossed with a maple dijon vinaigrette that is equally delicious on roasted or smoked chicken.
Delicata Tortelloni with Brown Butter & Fried Sage
- 1 small delicata squash (halved, seeded and roasted)
- 1 c. ricotta cheese
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (cooked, drained and minced)
- 1 package square wonton wrappers
- 1 stick butter
- handful of sage leaves, chopped or torn
Scoop cooked delicata squash out of skins into a large bowl. Add sausage and ricotta, and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto wonton wrappers. Fold over and seal into triangle shapes with water, then fold opposite corners over to meet in the middle and again seal with water. Drop into boiling, salted water and cook until they float to the top. In a frying pan, melt butter over medium heat until the solids begin to brown, then add the sage and cook until crispy. Serve over tortelloni.
Butternut Pizza with Ricotta and Cranberries
- 1 pizza crust (I like Portland Pie Co. garlic dough)
- 1 tbsp. cornmeal
- 2 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash (leftover is fine!)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp oil
- chicken stock (or vegetable stock) to thin
- 1 c. dried cranberries
- 1 handful sage leaves, chopped or torn
- 1 c. ricotta cheese
- 2 c. Italian blend shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread cornmeal on a pizza pan or cookie sheet, and stretch dough to fit. In a saucepan, saute garlic and onion in oil. When translucent, add squash; heat through and thin with chicken stock until it reaches a sauce consistency. Spread squash sauce on pizza dough. Drop tablespoons of ricotta cheese onto pizza, sprinkle with Italian shredded cheese and top with cranberries and sage leaves. Bake until crust is lightly browned and cheese is completely melted.
Roasted Carnival Squash with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1 medium squash, seeded and thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. maple sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast 10-15 minutes (or until they begin to caramelize.) Whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard and maple sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste, and use to dress squash. Serve as-is, or reserve some vinaigrette to drizzle on roasted or smoked chicken or pork as well.
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