Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcoming September with a taste of Autumn

As Fall is quickly approaching, my taste buds have had a hankering for the ever delicious vegetable known as butternut squash. It's still too warm here to make soup, so I thought a pasta dish could work. I've always found sage to be a perfect herb to complement squash, and I love the mild flavor and creamy texture of ricotta cheese. A manicotti was born.

 I started by preheating my oven to 350. I lightly buttered an 8x8 glass baking dish. Then, salted my water, added a few drops of coconut oil, and brought it to a boil. Added my noodles and boiled them for 7 minutes, as the box directed. Using tongs, I removed the noodles and set them aside.

Then I added my peeled chunks of squash to the salted water, brought it back to a boil, and cooked it until it was tender, about 10 minutes or so. Removed the squash and transferred to a bowl.

In a separate saucepan, heat butter over  medium and cook the onions and garlic until soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add to the squash, along with the chopped sage leaves, 2T. milk, nutmeg, sea salt, and black pepper. I then used the flat part of my meat mallet to mash everything together.
I grabbed another small bowl and combined my ricotta with 1/4 c. milk and the parmesan. Seasoned it with sea salt and black pepper. Then I went back to my squash mixture and stuffed it into the mancotti noodles with a teaspoon, and found that it was somewhat easy that way.

 I probably should have used a 9x13" pan, but I used my square pan instead so my tubes overlapped a little.
But they just got enveloped in a yummy mixture of ricotta and parmesan cheese, so who cares what it looked like underneath. After covering the stuffed noodles, I grated a chunk of mozzarella with my favorite kitchen tool of all time (tied with my mandolin)

This tool came from Crate and Barrel, and I love it. Just put the lid on after grating for easy storage. Stays fresh for...well, we eat so much cheese around here it's gone before it would ever go bad, so I have no idea.

I added a decent layer of shredded cheese to the top, laid a few sage leaves in the center, and baked it for about 45 minutes.
I would have loved to have taken a picture of it after it was taken out, but I was doing a hair cut downstairs and it was devoured before I got a chance. I did get one with a sizable piece missing....
And sliced after being refrigerated. Gotta love leftovers!

Squash and Sage Manicotti

2T. unsalted butter
Coarse ground sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
8 manicotti noodles
Half a butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4cup plus 2T. whole organic milk
10 fresh sage leaves, chopped.
1/8t. ground nutmeg
1.5 cups whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup. grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Enjoy the rest of the summer. I can't wait for pumpkin season!!!

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