Skillet Lasagna with Butternut Squash

Skillet Lasagna with Butternut Squash

Skillet Lasagna with Butternut Squash

Talk about being predictable…..during December we bloggers were all writing about cookie swaps, peppermint flavored this or that, drinks to cheer the season, pine cones, Santa hats, and jungle bells.  Well, all that sugar and spice is nice but…..

Come January and we’re talking about salad, diets, smoothies and working out.  I don’t think we’re allowed to mention fudge in January at all.  In fact it may even be against the law. (Let’s save that for V-tine’s Day).

With this recipe I’m breaking out of the mold of predictability.  What I have to share with you today is a one-dish meal that is so comforting, you’ll swear it’s baked lasagna.  Only it’s not baked.  Lasagna cooked on the stovetop?  I can see you shaking your head in disbelief.  But it’s true.

Lasagna cooked in a skillet.

Lasagna cooked in a skillet.

Layered up with sauce, noodles, cheeses and butternut squash just like the real thing, because it IS the real thing, and dang, is it ever good!   Now, making lasagna is pretty close to rocket science, so I want you to pay close attention here.

Remember to cut the squash into small cubes, or if unsure about size, use a package of frozen squash that’s been thawed.

Marinara sauce does not contain meat, so this will be a meatless meal!!!!

 

Pretend you don't see meatballs here.  Mr. D. wanted them!!

Pretend you don’t see meatballs here. Mr. D. wanted them!!    🙂

 

SKILLET LASAGNA WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Yield:    Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1  (12-ounce) package frozen chopped butternut squash. thawed.  (I used fresh butternut, cubed, and precooked in the microwave to soften)IMG_8734
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan and /or pecorino romano cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh chopped rosemary
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella (about 8 oz.)

Directions:

1.  Combine the squash, ricotta, 3/4 cup parmesan, the rosemary and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

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In another bowl, combine the marinara sauce and basil.  I took a shortcut here by using a marinara sauce that included basil, and added a little more dried basil to it.

2.  Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara in a large nonstick skillet.  Cover with 2 lasagna noodles.  Spread half of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, then sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella.  Add another layer of noodles the remaining ricotta mixture, 1 cup marinara and half of the remaining mozzarella.

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3.  Top with remaining marinara and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with the remaining  1/4 cup parmesan.

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4.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the pasta is tender and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.  (Check halfway through, if the edges seem dry, add up to 1/2 cup water.)  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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SOURCE:  Food Network Magazine

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Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut squash has got to be just about my favorite winter vegetable.  For the longest time the only way I ever had it was when it had been boiled till tender, then mashed with butter, and served as a puree.   WOW! I didn’t realize how many different and interesting ways there are to prepare it…..and they’re all so good!

We’ve grown to like it best when it’s left in chunks and there is some “chew” left to it.

This recipe is very easy to make.  Don’t let the name of the dish make it seem like a big deal.  All “gratin” means is a baked dish that has a  crumb topping.    So with that in mind let’s get started making this side dish that goes with so many entrees.  We particularly like it with roast chicken or turkey, but it’s also a great accompaniment to baked ham, or meatloaf.

All that’s required for this dish in addition to the squash, is some melted butter, a little garlic, and crumbs made from Panko and Parmesan cheese.  If you prefer to use a different winter squash in place of the butternut, I’m sure it would work out as well, since many of them are interchangeable.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH GRATIN

Yield:   Makes  4 servingsIMG_8608

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch rounds, or crescents
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.   Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Baking dish size needs to be about 8 x 11, or 9 x 13-inches.

2.  Arrange the squash rounds or crescents in rows in the baking dish.

3.  Melt the 4 Tbsp. butter with the minced garlic, in the microwave.

Melt butter with garlic;  mix Panko with cheese for crumbs.

Melt butter with garlic; mix Panko with cheese for crumbs.

4.  Combine the Panko crumbs and the grated Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Add 1 Tbsp. melted butter and toss to blend into crumbs.

5.  Brush the remaining butter and garlic mixture on the squash slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6.  Sprinkle the crumbs all over the top of the squash.

Top with the crumb mixture.

Top with the crumb mixture.

7.  Bake at 375*F.  uncovered, for 30 – 40 minutes till tender.  Crumbs should be nice and brown.  If not, run under the broiler for about 5 minutes to brown them up, being careful not to burn them.

Toasty, fragrant crumbs, jazz up this winter squash dish.

Toasty, fragrant crumbs, jazz up this winter squash dish.

 

SOURCE:   Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

Stuffed Turkey Tenderloins

 

 

Stuffed Turkey Tenderloins

Stuffed Turkey Tenderloins

This recipe is for anyone who is not planning on roasting a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, yet wants to have some turkey the day of…just not for a week afterward.

Can I interest you in turkey tenderloins stuffed with a savory filling of butternut squash, cranberries, sage and pecans?   All the tastes of Thanksgiving wrapped up in a neat little edible package.  These are not hard to make, they taste fabulous and even the next day, they still taste great leftover for lunch.

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Turkey tenderloins are the tender long strip of white meat hidden under the turkey breast.  They are succulent, and so excellent for fast cooking.  Because they are so lean you want to be sure you don’t overcook them or the meat will be dry. Once stuffed they are seared a little to brown them up, then covered and baked in the oven to finish cooking.  By covering the pan you keep all the moisture inside, thereby maintaining moisture in the meat.

I made these for Mr. D. and me as a pre-Thanksgiving meal to try them out, but they would be good anytime you want just a small amount of turkey or you’re planning a meal for a special occasion.

BUTTERNUT STUFFED TURKEY TENDERLOINS

Yield:  Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless turkey tenderloins  ( about 2 large, or 4 smaller ones)IMG_8597
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  1/4 cups diced butternut squash, 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped pecans
  • cooking twine
  • cooking spray

Directions:

1.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Add shallots and garlic and sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and golden.

Sauté shallots and garlic till soft.

Sauté shallots and garlic till soft.

Add butternut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and 1 Tbsp. water and cover;  cook on low for 10 minutes.

Add b-nut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and water.

Add b-nut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and water.

Turn off heat and add salt, pepper and sage.    Stir in the pecans and set aside to cool slightly.

Add seasonings and pecans.

Add seasonings and pecans.

2.  Cut a pocket into the sides of the tenderloins, being careful not to cut all the way through at the ends.  Sprinkle inside and out with salt.

3.  Stuff each turkey breast with about 1/2 cup of squash mixture.  (This really depends on the size of your tenderloins.  Stuff them as full as possible.)  Cut cooking twine long enough to tie each breast with 3 to 4 pieces of twine.  Cut off extra “tails”.

Tenderloins stuffed and tied.

Tenderloins stuffed and tied.

4.  Preheat oven to 375*F.    Wipe out the skillet you’ve previously used and reheat to medium-high.  Spray with a little cooking spray.  Carefully sear each turkey tenderloin on each side.  If your skillet is oven proof, cover tightly with foil and place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  (If your skillet is not oven proof, transfer the tenderloins to a baking dish and cover with foil.)  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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SOURCE:    Slightly modified from Skinny Taste

Roast Butternut Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Butternut Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Roast Butternut Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Dear readers, this soup  is absolutely delicious!!  Roasting the squash creates a rich, caramelized flavor that in the finished soup is amazing.  You can go ahead and cook the squash in the chicken broth, but it won’t be the same,  I’m telling you.   You will not believe the creaminess of this soup without the use of heavy cream.  And don’t even think about skipping the Parmesan croutons…..even it you use packaged ones instead of homemade.

I realize I’ve swooned over other soups,  but, with each new soup I make, I think it’s the best and it becomes my favorite, and the one last week is like “broccoli who?”.  January will best be remembered as soup month around here, and just in case you think I’m being a little over dramatic and that I need to go to some kind of soup-overload-rehab, you’re only thinking that because you haven’t made this one yet.

Even though the soup is perfectly seasoned according to the recipe, you may want to further perk up the flavor, by adding a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of garlic powder, being careful as to the amounts because each of these items can be quite strong.

BUTTERNUT SOUP WITH PARMESAN CROUTONS

YIELD:  Makes  2 quarts or about 8 servings

Butternut squash, onion, garlic, celery and chicken broth, plus seasonings.

Butternut squash, onion, garlic, celery and chicken broth, plus seasonings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes**
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • herb mixture, such as Fine Herbs, Italian Herb mix, Herbs de Provence
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh sage, or 2 tsp. dry rubbed sage
  • 3 cans (14.5 oz. each) reduced sodium chicken broth (vegetarians may substitute vegetable broth)
  • Croutons:
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh sage or 1 tsp. dry rubbed sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cubed French bread ( 1/2-inch cubes)
  • cooking spray
  • additional grated Parmesan cheese, optional

**As a small savings in time, you may want to use precut squash cubes from the market.  I prefer to peel and cut my squash because I feel that it is fresher when purchased whole, and not as likely to be dried out.

Directions:

1.  Place squash in a 15-in. x 10-in. baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray.  Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon oil; sprinkle with pepper, and sprinkle on a small amount of herb mixture.  Toss to coat.

Dice squash, drizzle with olive oil, pepper and herbs, then bake.

Dice squash, drizzle with olive oil, pepper and herbs, then bake.

Bake, uncovered, at 425*F for 30-35 minutes or until tender, stirring every 15 minutes.  Set aside.  This will smell wonderful when it comes out of the oven and you will want to eat it, but please don’t.

Roasted squash pierces easily and has some browned edges.

Roasted squash pierces easily and has some browned edges.

2.  While squash is roasting, in a Dutch oven, saute the onion, celery and sage in remaining oil until tender.

Slowly sauté the onions, celery and garlic.

Slowly sauté the onions, celery,  garlic and sage.

Stir in the broth and squash.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Cool slightly.

Add squash and chicken broth to Dutch oven.

Add squash and chicken broth to Dutch oven.

3.  In a blender, or with an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.  Return to the pan;  heat through. This makes a thick mixture.

Puree the mixture for a thick, wonderfully flavorful soup.

Puree the mixture for a thick, wonderfully flavorful soup.

If you prefer a thinner soup, add some additional broth, and rebalance the seasoning if necessary.

4.  For croutons, in a small bowl, combine the cheese, oil, sage and garlic.  Add bread cubes and spritz with cooking spray; toss to coat.  Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

5.  Bake at 425*F. for 5 – 8 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle each serving of soup with croutons and additional cheese if desired.

Top soup with Parmesan croutons and enjoy.

Top soup with Parmesan croutons and enjoy.

Nutritional Profile:  1 cup of soup with 1/4 cup croutons equals 179 calories, 8 g. fat, 1 mg cholesterol,  541 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber,  5 g protein.

SOURCE:   Adapted from Taste of Home

Butternut Squash & Cranberry Couscous

 

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous

For our Christmas dinner, this was one of the side dishes I made to go with Cider-Glazed Baked Spiral Ham.  

This colorful and somewhat unusual side dish may be served hot or at room temperature for a fall-inspired salad.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & CRANBERRY COUSCOUS

Yield:   Make 8 – 10 servings as a side dish or 7-8 as a salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 5 oz. pkg. dried cranberries
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 10-oz. pkg.  couscous
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash with 1 teaspoon olive oil , 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Place on baking  sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until tender.

Roasted squash with celery added.

Roasted squash with celery added. 

3.  In a small bowl, rehydrate the dried cranberries by combining with 2 cups hot water.  Soak for 1 minute, then drain.

4.  In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon olive oil to a boil.  Stir in couscous and cover, remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes.  Remove cover, fluff and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

5.  In a large pan or bowl, combine the couscous, squash, cranberries, celery and remaining ingredients.  Serve warm or allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Cook the couscous and add the remaining ingredients.

Cook the couscous and add the remaining ingredients.

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous

 

SOURCE:   Vegetarian

Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

This entrée is excellent–so flavorful and rich tasting although it uses low-fat ingredients.  You will not notice the lack of fats here, although the final product will be slightly less creamy than traditional mac and cheese.

Instead of making a cheese sauce in the usual way, this recipe uses ricotta cheese and pureed squash to give this familiar dish is creaminess.  I also added a little low-fat sour cream to the squash-cheese mixture to further ensure its creaminess.  For the bread crumb topping, I used seasoned crumbs and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.  A nice mixture that retained its crunch for a contrast to the macaroni.   The addition of nutmeg to the sauce is important as it brings out the sweetness of the squash, and enhances any cream sauce.

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Although this dish is a departure from the standard mac and cheese we enjoyed it.  I served it with ham and a salad for a complete meal.  Any leftovers warmed up nicely in the microwave, with just a drizzle of milk to bring back its creaminess.

MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)IMG_5688
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  1/2 cups non-fat milk
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4  oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 Tbsp. fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Olive-oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Combine squash, chicken broth, and milk in a medium saucepan;  bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper.  Stir to combine.

2.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add macaroni; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes.  Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan.

Adding cheese to the squash and macaroni mixture.

Adding cheese to the squash and macaroni mixture.

3.  Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4-inches deep) with cooking spray.  Transfer macaroni mixture to dish.  In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, and oil;  sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Crumb topping ready to be sprinkled over the top.

Crumb topping ready to be sprinkled over the top.

4.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 – 40 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Browned and bubbly.  Ready for the table.

Browned and bubbly. Ready for the table.

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SOURCE:  Martha Stewart Living

Braised Cauliflower and Squash Penne Pasta

One of the items I always keep in my pantry is at least one box of chicken broth.  I reach for it when I make a quick sauce or to moisten a leftover casserole.  But more important it’s the way to fast flavorful dinners.  Obviously its used in soups, but I also use it to whip up dishes like risotto, or a one-pot meal such as the one I have for you today.

Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

If I had all the time in the world, making my own chicken broth  by simmering meat, bones, and vegetables for hours would be ideal,  but I don’t, so that’s why I love boxed chicken broth.  I have cans of broth on my shelf too, for when only small amounts are needed, and I know I’ll use all of it, but for convenience, you can’t beat the box.  Pop the top and you’re ready to go.   Even when opened it keeps a long time in the refrigerator.   If you haven’t gotten around to trying boxed chicken broth, try it once for the convenience, but be sure to choose one with reduced sodium content.

A satisfying meatless meal.

A satisfying meatless meal.

This recipe for penne pasta with cauliflower and butternut squash goes together quickly, is a wonderful combination of flavors, and best of all the pasta cooks right in the broth with the vegetables, getting all that extra flavorful.  The starch from the pasta combines with the broth as it simmers and creates a thickened silky sauce.  And because its all cooked in one pot, cleanup is a breeze.  The dish can be vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable broth instead of the chicken, but expect the sauce to be a little bit darker in color.

We loved this dish as a meatless meal, served with a green salad,  but it would also be a great side dish to baked chicken, pork or fish.

BRAISED CAULIFLOWER AND SQUASH PENNE PASTA

Yield:   Makes 4 servings

Just a few ingredients.

Just a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, about 1-inch size
  • 2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut about 1-inch size pieces
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese

Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.   Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2.  Add broth, penne, cauliflower and squash.  ( a quick side note:  I roasted my squash with red onions and a little olive oil, to caramelize it and intensify the flavor, then added it to the cauliflower and pasta mixture at the end.)

Add cauliflower and  pasta to the pan with chicken broth.

Add cauliflower and pasta to the pan with chicken broth.

Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thickened and greatly reduced, 14 to 16 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in pepper and let stand for 5 minutes.  Serve topped with cheese.

Serve topped with grated Romano cheese.

Serve topped with grated Romano cheese.

SOURCE:   Eating Well

Butternut Ravioli in Sage Browned Butter Sauce

Butternut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Butternut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Not too long ago we were out for a special dinner that was catered, and for the appetizer we were served this dish; butternut squash ravioli with a sage brown butter sauce.  It was so good I wanted the recipe, but, sadly, it was not available from the chef.  So I went on the hunt for a similar recipe, and on the Food Network website, I found this one by Emeril Lagasse.

He roasted his squash for starters, but I simply steamed mine, then mashed it with the same results.  Possibly roasting the squash brings out a debt of flavor that mine lacked, but with the nice balance of seasonings that are added I was perfectly satisfied with my results.  I found that using won ton wrappers is a good substitute for fresh pasta dough, if you’re in a time crunch.  However you don’t get that toothy “al dente” texture.  Not a big issue for me;  we enjoyed them all the same.

In trying out this recipe I served the ravioli as a side dish with roast chicken, and it was a good compliment.  The original recipe is written to be served as an appetizer, and that is very nice for a sit-down dinner where silverware is in use. But I would not try to serve it when people need to balance a plate and use a fork to eat it.

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI WITH A SAGE BROWN BUTTER SAUCE

YIELD:   4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 9 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash, mashed
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesean cheese, plus more for serving
  • pinch nutmeg
  • fresh pasta dough,rolled out into wide ribbons,  or won ton wrappers
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

1.  In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter.  Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in 3 Tablespoons cheese and nutmeg.  Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.  Cool completely.

2.  Start a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat and bring to boiling.  Cut the pasta into 3 – inch squares.  (Or alternately, use won ton wrappers.)  Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each square.  Bring one corner of the square to the opposite corner, forming a triangle, and seal completely, by wetting the edges slightly and pressing together.  Add the ravioli to the pot of boiling salted water.  Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or until the ravioli float and are pale in color.

Remove the pasta from the water and drain well.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  In a medium saute pan, melt the remaining 8 Tablespoons butter.  Add the sage leaves to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown.  Remove from the heat.

4.  Place some of the ravioli in the center of each serving plate.  Spoon the butter sauce over the ravioli.  Sprinkle with additional cheese and garnish with parsley.

Can be served as a side dish also.

Can be served as a side dish also.

SOURCE:  Emeril Lagasse, via Food Network

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

As I was looking through the November issue of Cooking Light Magazine, this recipe for Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart caught my eye because the picture of it was so appetizing.  I wanted to make and eat it right then and there, but I earmarked the page for a more opportune time.  Well, the time came this past week.  After the cooking and baking frenzy that was Christmas I was ready to prepare a simple meal, and enjoy the process of doing it.

Boy, am I ever glad I finally got around to making this tart.  From the crust on the bottom to the cheese on top, it is one layer after another of delicious flavors that compliment each other perfectly.

Layers that taste delicious and hold together perfectly

Layers that taste delicious and hold together perfectly

Let me start with the crust:  the ingredients are mixed in the food processor and once mixed, go straight into the pie plate where you form the crust with your fingers by pressing it against the bottom and sides of the pan.  Then it goes right into the preheating oven to begin baking.

The recipe as printed in the  magazine relies on prepared ingredients, i.e. pre cubed squash, chopped onions, pre chopped pancetta, and pre sliced mushrooms as time savers.  However as a cost saving measure I don’t usually purchase my vegetables this way, preferring to prep them myself, so that added some time to the preparation of this dish.

Preparation of the tart filling involved peeling and cubing the butternut squash,

Cubed squash

Cubed squash

chopping the onion, grating the cheese  ( I used an Edam cheese that has good flavor and nice melting properties.)

Grated Edam Chese

Grated Edam Chese

The shiitake mushrooms I purchased were whole caps that I sliced, and the pancetta was in slices that I cut into small pieces.

Sliced shiitake mushroom caps

Sliced shiitake mushroom caps

This all added about 15 minutes to the preparation time.

Because I knew the prep work would take a little time, I did all of it before making the crust, so once the crust went into the oven I was ready to continue using the processor to make the filling.  Cutting the squash into fine pieces cuts down on the cooking time, and changed the texture somewhat and when the onions get mixed with it the flavor and “mouth-feel” was very pleasant.  Eggs, cheese and seasonings get mixed with the squash and onions, then poured into the partially baked crust and baked.

While that is happening, you sauté the pancetta till brown and then add and sauté the mushrooms.  The final step is to arrange the mushrooms and pancetta on the tart surface followed by the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts.

Hot and melty from the oven.

Hot and melty from the oven.

My final product was as pretty as the picture in the magazine.  The crust was flaky and tender, it remained dry and flaky in spite of the wetness of the filling baked in it.  This tart also cut perfectly; each wedge holding its shape as it was removed from the baking dish.  I will definitely use this recipe and method for making a crust for tarts and quiches that I make from now on.  I might also add that I felt that the time spent making this dish was well worth the effort, because the finished dish was so perfect in every way.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MUSHROOM TART

SERVINGS:   6

CRUST:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons ice water
  • cooking spray

FILLING:

  • 3 cups peeled, precubed butternut squash
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 3/4 cup prechopped onion
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese, divided.  Gruyere, Gouda, Edam are all good choices.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 ounces prechopped pancetta, or 3 slices cut into small pieces
  • 5 ounces presliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

2.  To prepare crust, spoon all the flour plus the salt, pepper and baking powder into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2 times to mix.  Combine 1/4 cup oil with the 3 Tablespoons ice water in a measuring cup.  With the processor running, slowly add oil mixture through food chute, and process until dough is crumbly. Pour dough into the pie plate.

Pour crust crumbles into pie plate.

Pour crust crumbles into pie plate.

Working quickly, press dough into an even layer in bottom and up sides of pie plate.

Press crust into pan with your fingers.

Press crust into pan with your fingers.

Place crust into preheating oven, and bake for 10 minutes.

3.  To prepare the filling, place squash into food processor (do not clean from dough), and process for 1 minute or until squash is finely chopped.

Finely chopped squash.

Finely chopped squash.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add squash and onion to pan; sauté for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  While squash cooks, combine half the cheese ( 1/3 cup), eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Stir into the squash and onion mixture.

5.  At the end of 10 minute baking time, remove the crust from the oven, spoon squash mixture into the crust and spread evenly.  Return to the oven and continue baking for 9 minutes.

6.  Return skillet to medium-high heat.  Add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add pancetta; cook 1 minute or until beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms and cook for 7 minutes or until browned.

Browning the pancetta and mushrooms.

Browning the pancetta and mushrooms.

Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 cup white wine.  Cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates.

7.  Remove tart from oven.  Arrange the mushroom mixture evenly over the top of the tart;  sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese.  Return tart to 425 degrees oven and bake for 3 – 5 minutes until cheese melts.

Hot and melty from the oven.

Hot and melty from the oven.

A fantastic dish on all levels!

A fantastic dish on all levels!

Serve this delicious entree with a mixed green salad for a complete, low calorie, almost meatless meal.  To make it vegetarian just omit the pancetta.

Calories  368,   Fat 21.8 g.,  Carb  31.6 g.

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from Cooking Light Magazine,  November, 2012

Butternut Bisque

Butternut Bisque

As many of you are probably doing,  I’m making out my menu for Thanksgiving Dinner, checking the cupboard for what I have on hand and what I need to get.  My shopping list is close at hand.  There are certain dishes that are alway present on my Thanksgiving dinner table because it’s a favorite of someone in the family and they want to enjoy it once again.  Each year I try to make one dish a little different than I’ve made it previously just to give it a new spin, or I introduce something new.

This year as my guests arrive, I will be serving small cups of soup along with a cheese board and crackers.  The soup is one which I have made many times before, but never served as an appetizer, so we will have to see how that works out.  Because it is a favorite of my husband and me I’m sharing it here.  We usually have it with grilled cheese sandwiches, and it makes a very hearty meatless meal.  You might also want to serve it in small cups as a appetizer for your holiday meal as I will be doing.

The recipe has gone through several adaptations, but was originally given to me by a co-worker, who was a wonderful French cook.  She grew a big garden every year and just had a special way of using all those vegetables she grew.  Her soups were outstanding, and I’m fortunate that she shared some of her recipes with me.  They are some of my very favorites.

BUTTERNUT BISQUE

SERVINGS    6

INGREDIENTS

Ingredients for Butternut Bisque

  • 2 – 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash,  peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 5 – 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • pinch each:  nutmeg, ginger, cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

1.  Melt butter in a large soup pan.  Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.

Saute onions, carrots, and celery.

2.  Add potatoes and squash to the pan; followed by the broth.

Potatoes and squash ready to be added.

Bring to a boil.  Decrease heat, cover and simmer till vegetables become very tender,  approximately 40 minutes.  Add the curry, nutmeg, ginger and cayenne.

3.  Puree the soup mixture using an immersion blender, or regular blender working in batches.  Return soup to the pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Keep warm till ready to serve.  Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream on top.

This is the perfect use for a fall vegetable.

SOURCE:   With thanks to Ann N., my friend, who was so generous in sharing her recipes and cooking talents with me.