Cheesy squash casserole, and some acknowledgements…

This Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, and I hope you and
your loved ones were able to celebrate in one way or another, the things you are
grateful for in your lives.

I wanted to share this yellow squash casserole that has been my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal we go to, for the past few years, and every year, it is a hit. I realize I probably should have posted this a week ago, but I figured this is a vegetable dish you can make for a family meal (makes great leftovers) or other holiday celebrations. When I discovered American cuisine, I really fell in love with casseroles, not unsimilar to the French gratins which are definitely a comfort food for me.

In French, the translation for the word “grateful” is “reconnaissant”,
which literally translates into “acknowledging” or “recognizing”. It’s an
interesting nuance, emphasizing that before you can be grateful for anything, you
must acknowledge it. It’s the process phase of gratitude, as opposed to the
result.  That’s been on my mind lately, this
idea that life is nothing but process.
So I wanted to make some acknowledgements, simple, with no buts. No caveats. Just
some fundamentals I sometimes take for granted.

Today, I acknowledge…

that I am alive, my body functions, my heart beats, I can breathe,
I can walk, I can perceive the world with my five senses;

that I love;

that I am loved;

that I can take care of myself;

that I can feel and share joy;

that I can survive hardships and sorrow;

that I live and embrace my two cultures;

that I can learn and improve;

that I can express what I think, and how I feel;

that I can see beauty and feel awe;

that I can see ugliness, and move on;

that I can nurture;

that I can make things to nourish myself and the ones I love;

that I can share my journey here with you.

Two Cheese Squash Casserole

Inspired from Southern Living May 2004

Serves 8-10

Age for babies: 10-12 months as long as baby has had every ingredient previously.

Prep time: 25 mn
Cook time: 10 mn + 40 mn

4 lbs yellow squash, peeled and sliced
4 tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup + 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat)
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese (may be substituted with Parmesan)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
8 oz of crème fraîche (or sour cream)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Preheat the oven at 350°F. Grease a large baking dish with butter.

Boil a large pot of water and cook the squash in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.

Drain the squash. Line a colander with a kitchen towel and put the squash in it, squeezing gently to drain the extra liquid. Let drain for 5 minutes.

In a large pot (I use a round Dutch oven), melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté 5 to 6 minutes until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in squash, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Pecorino, the cheddar, chives, parsley, crème fraîche, salt, pepper and eggs, stirring every time you add one ingredient.

In a small sauce pan or in the microwave, melt 2 tbsp of butter. Stir together melted butter, 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Pecorino and garlic salt. Sprinkle mixture over the top of the casserole.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden on top.

Simple butternut squash ravioli

I finally got around to use the half butternut squash that has been in my fridge for the past month or so. I decided to make some ravioli. Last time i did pasta I found it easier than I remembered so I give it a try and tried again. And it actually ended up being pretty fast. It took me about 40 min to do the ravioli which is not that bad.
This recipe is called “simple butternut squash ravioli” because I didn’t use the traditional recipes that includes mostrada and amaretti. Theoretically the addition of those two ingredients is fundamental to get real “tortelli di zucca”, but they are quite difficult to find over here, so this time I tried this version with no mostarda or amaretti, and have to say they turn out pretty well anyway!

Simple butternut squash ravioli

Ingredients

  • Filling
  • -half butternut squash
  • -2 oz. parmesan
  • -sage
  • -nutmeg
  • -pepper
  • -salt
  • Pasta
  • -3.5 oz. flour
  • -1 egg
  • -1 spoon EVOO
  • -salt
  • Sauce
  • -butter
  • -sage
  • -grated parmesan
  • -garlic (optional)

Directions

  1. First I cut up the butternut squash, wrapped it in aluminum foil and placed it in the oven at 400F. While the squash was roasting, I prepared the pasta. I mixed 1 egg with 3.5 oz of flour a pinch of salt and a spoon of oil in the food processor. When the pasta was well kneaded I placed under a cup to rest. I then started working on the filling. I blended the butternut squash with parmesan, salt, pepper, sage and nutmeg. Finally, using my pasta maker, I rolled the pasta out into two long strips of pasta. I placed a strip of pasta over my ravioli maker and filled the holes with the butternut squash filling. I then bent the rest of the pasta strip over the half ravioli and then pressed a pin roll to seal the ravioli. Finally, I took the ravioli out of the ravioli maker and placed them on a abundantly floured wooden tray. If you don’t have a ravioli maker use a pasty cutter or a knife to cut the ravioli.
  2. Cook the ravioli as usual in simmering water (if the boil is too strong they will break) and dress them simply with grated parmesan and browned butter in which you have roasted some sage and possibly a whole garlic clove.

Stuffed squash

And here I am, back to posting. I am quite busy catching up with work and other things after my trip and I am not quite caught up with the blogsphere yet. I think it will take me a couple of week to be back to full capacity, but I will try to at least post regularly from now on.

Anyway, my wonderful BF come back home the other day with bags full of vegetables and here is a good way of putting some of those vegetables to good use. I used zucchini and summer squash and was really surprised by how sweet the squash was. Buying at the farmer’s market really has its perks!

Stuffed squash

Ingredients

  • 4 yellow squash
  • 2 zucchini
  • 4 anchovies
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • basil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Start out by cutting the zucchini in half lengthwise and take out as much of the flesh as you can without tearing the squash. Salt the zucchini cups and put them in the oven to cook at 375F for about 15 minutes, or until almost cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the anchovies in a tiny bit of oil, add the sundried tomatoes and let them cook for a bit. Add in the flesh of the squash diced and the two zucchini (I used one yellow and one green) and cook until tender. Season with salt, pepper and basil.
  3. Place the zucchini mixture in the squash cups and put back in the oven for 10 minutes to warm up. Serve warm as a side or a light meal.
  4. You can keep this dish as light as I did by basically not adding any oil or cheese, or make it a bit more substantial by adding a bit of cheese and possibly also some ground meat. I’m on a diet for the next 6lbs or so, so no cheese or oil in my sides for the time being.

Easy Kabocha squash kebabs

I love winter squash. It is actually one of the things I love about living in the US in winter. In Italy we don’t have this variety of squash, we just get one type of pumpkin and that’s it. It is delicious but that is it. So it is fun for me to experiment with different kind of squash.

Today I am giving you kaboocha squash skewers. Sausage plays well with the sweetness of squash and kaboocha holds up well to grilling. The result is a simple and quick meal.

Kabocha squash kebabs

Ingredients

  • 1 small kaboocha squash
  • 1 sausage

Directions

  1. Cut the kaboocha into wedges, clean it of the seeds and put in the oven to roast at 400F for about 20 minutes or until soft.
  2. Cut the sausage into bite sized pieces and skewer it with the roasted squash. Using a very hot cast iron stove top grill, grill the skewers until the sausage is cooked through and serve hot.
  3. Simple, fast and delicious!

Sausage and butternut squash pizzoccheri

Pizzoccheri are an Italian buckwheat pasta typically of the mountain area to the North of Milan. They are traditionally boiled with potatoes and green and served oozing with oodles of butter and cheese. They are delicious! And incredibly heavy. I have them once or twice a year in the traditional version and spend the rest of the year shedding those 300lb I gain eating them 😉

But pizzoccheri are quite delicious in a number of ways. A great paring is with pumpkin or squash. There is something about the sweetness of squash that goes great with the heartiness and slight bitterness of pizzoccheri and the sausage gives it a bit more decadence.

Sausage and butternut squash pizzoccheri

Sausage and butternut squash pizzoccheri

Ingredients

  • 5oz. pizzoccheri
  • 1 sausage
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • rosemary
  • garlic
  • salt

Directions

  1. Start boiling the water in a large pot. While you wait for it to boil clean and dice the squash. When the water starts boiling salt it, and then add the squash and the pizzoccheri. They will take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook.
  2. While the pizzoccheri and the squash are boiling, cook the diced sausage with some rosemary and a crushed clove of garlic in a non stick pan. Don’t worry about adding fats, the sausage will render plenty of fat, no need for any additional fat.
  3. When the pasta and the squash are ready, drain them and sautee everything together quickly. Serve hot.