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Roasted Italian Butternut Squash

September 29, 2016 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Nothing says autumn like the sweet taste of butternut squash. Whether it’s roasted with a little cinnamon, butter and brown sugar, prepared as a hearty soup, or served as a seasonal ravioli, butternut squash is a definite fall favorite. This recipe offers a nice balance of sweet and savory. The Italian seasonings work really well with the natural sweetness of the squash. This is a great side dish to serve with any autumn-inspired meal…be sure to keep it in mind come Thanksgiving time!

 

 

 

 

Roasted Italian Butternut Squash

I like to slice the top half as rounds, and the bottom half as long slices – this makes it easier to work around the pulp and seeds, and makes for a rustic presentation.

1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ slices
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional if needed
1/4 tspn salt
1/4 tspn pepper
1/2 tspn garlic powder
1 tspn Italian seasoning

I personally prefer to use a baking rack sitting in a baking dish or on a baking tray for this recipe, to allow for even cooking on both sides. If you do not have a rack that fits into a baking dish, you can just use a lightly sprayed baking tray and flip the squash slices halfway through baking time.

Preheat oven to 400˚. Place squash slices on a rack that is sitting in a baking dish or on a baking tray (see note above regarding the rack). Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Lightly brush the squash slices on both sides. You can lightly drizzle with additional olive oil if needed.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the slices start to brown along the edges, turning once at 15 minutes.

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Butternut Squash Home Fries

September 27, 2013 Menu No Comments

Aside from pumpkins, butternut squash is the food that I most associate with the fall season. Every autumn, without fail, I’ll pick up a butternut squash at least two or three times during the season. And every time I pick one up, I say to myself “ok, now what am I going to do different with this?” I love the traditional soups, risottos, pastas and baked butternut squash dishes, but I’m always on look-out for a new idea. Last week, after I bought my first butternut squash of the season, I did some research and put together a recipe for butternut squash home fries that has three easy steps:

1. easy to cut (this is always a challenge, since most fall squash are usually hard as a bullet);

2. easy to prepare; and

3. easy to serve.

What you’ll need for this recipe is one nice size butternut squash, a vegetable peeler, a sharp knife, some olive oil, salt and pepper, and some basic seasonings (suggestions for sweet and savory seasonings are listed below). Start by peeling the skin off of the squash. This step is actually a lot easier that I thought it would be. While the squash as a whole is very tough and often hard to slice through, the skin itself peels without much effort. Next, you are going to cut off and discard the top tip and the bulbous bottom part of the squash. The bottom part houses most of the seeds, so this steps helps you avoid messy cleanup. You can save the bulbous part for another recipe, but I found it wasn’t necessary for this dish.

The squash cut into four equal parts.

The squash cut into four equal parts.

Next, you are going to cut the squash in half lengthwise, then you are going to cut both halves in half again, lengthwise. Be sure to remove and discard any remaining seeds. You now have four long, thin pieces of squash.

The next step is to slice the squash into very thin slices. The thinner the slices, the crispier the home fries will be. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can use a food processor with the slicing blade, a vegetable peeler, or VERY CAREFULLY use a sharp knife. When the squash is sliced, you’ll want to place the slices into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Next you’ll want to add your salt and pepper, and your seasonings, and then mix everything up so that the slices are lightly and evenly coated.

Spread the slices evenly onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Make sure that the slices are not overlapping to guarantee that all of the slices are baked through. Place the tray into an oven pre-heated to 375º. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the slices start to brown and curl. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes. The slices will harden and crisp up a bit as they cool. Serve it as a side dish to chicken, meat or fish.

THE SEASONINGS

The nice thing about this dish is that the seasoning could be either sweet or savory, depending on what you’re in the mood for and with what you are serving the home fries.

For sweet home fries, add 1/2 tspn (or to taste) of either cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or allspice to the butternut squash. You can also add sliced apples to make it a festive fall dish.

For savory home fries, add some chopped thyme or sage leaves and 1/2 tspn (or to taste) of onion powder. You can also add parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

 

The home fries, perfectly crisp.

The home fries, perfectly crisp.

Follow up: My friend Tom, who does a thicker french fry-cut version of this recipe, noted that not only is this a quick and easy dish, but it is also a much healthier option than traditional french fries or even sweet potato fries, because it is baked and not fried. To make the french fry-cut version, cut into slightly larger pieces and bake for 40-45 minutes, turning half way through.

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Butternut Squash Ravioli

January 9, 2011 Menu, Pasta No Comments

While I was putting together my list of upcoming recipes that I am planning to post, I found myself leaning towards a lot of pasta recipes. Being that pasta is probably THE standby Italian dish, it’s no real surprise. And I’m not just referring to a standard plate of Sunday pasta with gravy and meatballs. Pasta can be a very versatile ingredient in many creative dishes. So it was an easy decision to make a special Pasta category on my blog. Just as The Mamma Meets the Cucina, Family Recipes, and Guest Recipe with Emma appears every few weeks, I will now start to highlight a special pasta dish under the banner The Pasta Dish. This special section will feature a variety of topics and recipes, such as: home made pasta recipes, creative pasta sauces and toppings, and links to some of my favorite celebrity pasta dishes (and I have quite a few of them bookmarked!). I hope you get as much enjoyment reading the new section as I do posting it.

 

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI
Served with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Today’s dinner was extra special. Aside from getting to use one of my favorite vegetables incorporated into one of my favorite pastas, my daughter Julianna was very eager to help me roll out the pasta. Spending time in the kitchen with family is always a special occasion, and getting to have my daughter to help out and share in the fun is always a bonus.

I found a good recipe for butternut squash ravioli filling. The most time consuming part is baking the squash in order to purée it, and you can do this ahead of time. After that it’s just mixing a few key cheese ingredients and letting it sit while you roll out a basic pasta dough. We used a ravioli stamper to press out the ravioli shapes, but I’m sure that many of you – like myself – have stories of our grandmothers using a juice glass to press out the ravioli.

I used Mario Batali’s brown butter and sage recipe for a quick and complimentary sauce, adding some toasted pine nuts as a final touch. Delicious, filling and lots of fun. Three key ingredients to a successful meal!

Ingredients

For the ravioli
3lb Butternut Squash
3/4 Cup Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Salt, to taste
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs

Slice squash in half, lengthwise. Remove seeds and pulp, place cut side down in a baking dish filled with a bit of water. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes. Let cook, scoop out flesh, purée. Add cheeses, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, blend. Add breadcrumbs, blend. Cover and set aside in refrigerator.

Next, make a basic pasta dough – you will need 2lbs of dough, which is approx. 4 cups of flour and 4 eggs. This will make approximately 28 ravioli.

When pasta is rolled out, place one sheet of dough on piece of wax paper. Mark the dough where you will be making the ravioli cuts. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each expected cut. Place a second sheet of dough on top (you may need to lightly brush the second sheet with an egg wash if the dough has dried out to help the sheets stick together). Press out the ravioli with a ravioli cutter.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently add the ravioli to the water and cook 4-5 minutes.

For the sauce
4 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

While your pasta cooks, melt butter in a 12 to 14-inch saute pan and continue cooking until golden brown color appears in the thinnest liquid of the butter. Add sage leaves and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and set aside. Drain the pasta, but leaving a small amount of cooking water, and gently pour into saute pan and return to heat. Add the cheese and toasted pine nuts, toss to coat and serve immediately.

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Thanksgiving Sides

November 16, 2008 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

Ahhhh, Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday of the year. Now, my favorite holiday meal of the year is still hands-down the Christmas Eve Seven Fish dinner…more on that in a few weeks. But when you’re talking holidays, Bird Day is the tops for me. I love everything about it. The smells, the colors, the crisp fall air, the leaves on the ground. Everything about it screams tradition, comfort and nostalgia. Just the smell of turkey brings me back to when I was a kid, when my brother and I would help my mom make the apple pies. We would start the morning by watching the parade on tv, followed by hours of the WOR Holiday King Kong movie festival (monsters were always more important to me than football when I was little). Then came the food. The glorious food! Now that I have a family of my own, we have our own traditions that we look forward to. And they still involve lots of eating!

Obviously, the main event of the day is the turkey. These days there are countless ways to prepare the main course. My friend John does both a traditional bird in the oven, and another one on the grill. My friend Tony, on the other hand, has turned deep-frying into an art form. So I won’t even begin to suggest turkey tips. Now, if you grew up in an Italian household, chances are that your Thanksgiving main course consisted of a double bill – a pasta course, followed up to a few hours later by the turkey.

So, what I’ve decided to do was offer you some side dishes that go over well with our family dinner. The first, Cranberry Compote, was an Emeril recipe that I came across a few years back. The second, Baked Butternut Squash with Apples, was one that I just recently found. Enjoy, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

FRESH CRANBERRY COMPOTE

6 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice

In a non reactive, non-stick saucepan, over medium, combine the cranberries, zest, 1/2 cup sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in the orange juice. Add the mixture to the cranberries and stir to blend. Simmer another 15 minutes until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

BAKED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH APPLES

2 tblspn butter
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground nutmeg
1-1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 to 3 large Granny Smith apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tblspn balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped pecans,toasted

Heat oven to 375ºF. Place butter in 13×9-inch glass baking dish; heat in oven 5 to 7 minutes or until melted.
Stir cinnamon and nutmeg into melted butter. Add squash; toss to coat. Cover with foil; bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix apples, syrup and vinegar.
Pour apple mixture over squash. Cover; bake 10 minutes. Stir; bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until squash is tender. Stir before serving and sprinkle with pecans.

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