Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Butternut Squash, Sage and Ricotta Cannelloni

For the Cannelloni:
10 sheets of flat lasagna noodles (Barilla makes a good version)
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp 2% milk
1/2 large butternut squash or 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 small shallots, finely diced
1 tsp finely chopped sage leaves plus 8-10 whole sage leaves

In a large stock pot, bring 6-8 cups of salted water to a rolling boil. Add in lasagna noodles and cook until very al dente (just enough to soften them). Mine took only 2-3 minutes. Remove with tongs and place on a well oiled cookie sheet. In the meantime put the butternut squash into the boiling water and cook 8-10 minutes or until fork-tender. While squash is cooking, heat a small frying pan to medium and pour in enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain squash well and place in a medium sized bowl. Add 2 Tbsp milk, nutmeg, chopped sage and shallots. Mash with a fork until all ingredients are combined and the squash is nicely broken down (but not too broken down). Place about 1/4 cup of squash mixture onto each noodle and roll up, placing seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish (use your judgement for the size of the pan. Mine was 9" x 5" i think). Once all the noodles are in the pan, set aside. In a large bowl mix together ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cheese mixture over the noodles and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese topping begins to turn a golden brown. While the noodles are baking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and cook until crispy (this doesn't take long!). Drain on paper towels and top baked noodles with sage leaves.

For the Applejack Salad:
1/2 granny smith apple cut into small slices and those slices cut into thin strips
a small handful of walnuts, toasted
a small handful of golden raisins
1 green onion, diced
Several cups mixed greens

Place all ingredients but apples in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, place apples, 2 Tbsp Laird's Applejack or bourbon and 1 Tbsp honey and allow to "marinate" for at least 10 minutes. Pour on top of salad right before serving, allowing the juices to drip onto the salad as well. This salad would also be good with feta or blue cheese, but we had neither.

For the
1/2 small shallot, diced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 cup (or so) red wine vinegar
1/2 cup (or so) extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp (or so) honey

Add shallots and oil and let sit for several minutes to allow the shallots to soften up slightly. Add in all the other ingredients, stirring with a fork. Make sure you mix it well before pouring over greens. (You won't need all of this dressing, just use enough to lightly coat the greens).

We served this meal with some delicious sourdough bread. Yum!

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie

This is sort of a "no-recipe" recipe as all it requires are leftovers you may have had from Thanksgiving, or throughout any given week...ie, it's a great way to clean out your fridge!
I used lots of green beans, some carrots, peas, red onion, garlic and shredded turkey mixed with a simple roux and topped with mashed potatoes and a little Parmesan cheese. I'll just give you the order in which I prepared things and you can figure out the rest per your own discretion.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large deep dish skillet over medium and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Once oil is hot, add in garlic (I used 2 smallish cloves) onion (I used 1/2 red onion) and season with salt and pepper. Saute until soft and slightly translucent. Add in other vegetables (2 small carrots, 1-2 cups green beans, a smattering of sweet peas, remaining turkey I shredded with my hands) and continue to saute over medium low heat. In the meantime, re-heat mashed potatoes so they become fluffy again. In a small sauce pan heat several tablespoons of butter and/or olive oil. Slowly add in a few tablespoons of flour. Once the flour and butter is like a smooth paste, slowly add in chicken broth (I used 1 can) stirring continually until you have a nice smooth liquid. Slowly add this to the vegetables. Stir gently to combine and top with lots of mashed potatoes. Lightly sprinkle potatoes with Parmesan cheese and pepper. Pop this into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes begin to turn golden. We had some Oak Leaf wine (also leftover from Thanksgiving) to accompany it.