Noodle-less Loaf Pan Butternut Squash Lasagna

noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

Butternut Squash is hands down my favorite winter squash, come fall I can’t get enough of it and you’ll always see one or two sitting on my kitchen counter. Butternut squash is so versatile, you can put it in just about everything and believe me I have!

If you look through my blog you’ll see different ways that I’ve used it over the years, and one of the ways is in a lasagna. Butternut squash has a slightly sweet, buttery nutty flavor and it goes wonderful with creamy ricotta and a béchamel sauce, it’s so decadent and delicious. 
butternut squash

This is the time of year when my garden is full of sage and butternut squash and sage make a perfect pairing together, I especially love to infuse my béchamel sauce with garlic and sage, it’s dreamy.loaf pan lasagna

If you search my archives you’ll see that I once made individual butternut squash lasagna’s minus the noodles in a free form manner.  For this time I wanted to try making it in a loaf pan which allowed me to get many layers and some nice height, and this version is minus the noodles as well. The loaf pan holds everything nicely together and gives the lasagna a little more structure since the pasta is not there to give it more body.

I lined my loaf pan with parchment, (which is optional) because honestly I wanted to un-mold it and take a nice photo to show you, but you have to really cool it down to be able to remove the parchment without destroying your lasagna, so I would suggest make it the day before or early in the morning if you want to do the same, chilling it for an easy removal, then just warm it and serve it with warm béchamel, otherwise make it without the parchment.

noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

Either way it’s magical and tastes like a dream and trust me you won’t miss the pasta at all, in fact I prefer it without because all the flavors are true and not soaked up by the pasta.noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

The loaf pan makes you able to create multiple layers of goodness,  just remember to let it set before cutting into it so all the creaminess can tighten up a bit, just like a traditional lasagna it’s a mess if you cut into it hot, the layers get lost.noodle-less butternut squash lasagna

I hope you try my noodle-less, loaf pan butternut squash lasagna, I promise you won’t miss the pasta one bit!

Follow along with me on Instagram to see what else I’m making during the week.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Noodle-less Loaf Pan Butternut Squash Lasagna
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf pan, buttered, lined with parchment which is an optional step for removal of whole loaf
  • NOTE; If you don't want to remove whole lasagna out of the pan, omit parchment.
  • 2 butternut squash, peeled and sliced lengthwise (as much as possible, then into lengthwise pieces) roasted at 375 on a rimmed baking sheet at 375 until softened up a bit but still al'dente
  • 3 cups, ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated pecorino cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1½ cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • BECHAMEL SAUCE
  • 2 cups, whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons, flour
  • 4 tablespoons, butter
  • sprig of sage, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Roast sliced squash a head of time so it can cool down. Set aside.
  2. Mix up the ricotta mixture with the chopped spinach, egg, grated cheese's, both pecorino and mozzarella, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. TO MAKE THE BECHAMEL SAUCE;
  4. In a saucepan, melt butter, add garlic then whisk in flour until it incorporates and turns golden, not dark brown.
  5. Pour in a few tablespoons of the milk, whisking until moistened.
  6. Add the remaining milk whisking vigorously until it starts to thicken and right before it starts to bubble on the sides, take it off the heat.
  7. Now the layering process begins, add a couple of tablespoons of bechamel to the bottom of pan, then a layer of squash, enough to fit all the edges and middle of the pan. Spread ricotta layer on top, smooth with the back of a spoon or an off set spatula, add two more tablespoons of sauce and repeat layers until you reach the top of the loaf pan, reserving the prettiest looking pieces of squash for the very top.
  8. Spread the top with bechamel and sprinkle with pecorino and top with some sage leaves before baking.
  9. Bake 350- 375 uncovered until cheese is melted and heated through, and golden on top, ovens vary with time, check after 30 minutes.
  10. Let it set up before cutting, mine set for 2 hours.
  11. You should have extra sauce to serve with it, if you want more bechamel just double the recipe.
  12. Enjoy!

 

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Butternut Squash Pizza with Sage Walnut Pesto

butternut squash pizza with sage pesto As promised I would like to announce the winner of the beautiful Lagostina Hammered Copper Pastaiola, and the winner is… DIANE KANTOR! Congratulations Diane, I will be contacting you by email to get your address so the company can ship it directly to you.

Can I just tell you something? I adore this pizza! It highlights roasted butternut squash on a bed of garlicky ricotta with touches of sage and walnut pesto floating around, the simple flavors of fall on top of crispy and crunchy pizza dough.

When making this pizza you’ll want to seek out a squash that has a long neck because that’s what you’ll be using to make those nice round slices which I think it adds so much to the presentation, don’t you?

sage and walnut pesto I was immediately drawn to the looks of this pizza when I saw a photo posted on none other than Pinterest but I wanted to add my own little twist with the sage and walnut pesto, I thought it would be extra delicious with little dollops all over the warm pizza, and guess what? I was right.

sage and walnut pesto I have so much sage still growing in my garden and this was another way to enjoy it, and as all fresh pesto’s it takes no time to whip it up. I also like using the sage pesto with other things like fish, chicken, pasta, root vegetables, swirled into mashed potatoes and risotto, the possibilities are endless and a little goes a long way and it just screams fall to me!

butternut squash pizza with sage pesto If you make your own pizza dough, I applaud you, I’m not that fond of working with yeast so I always buy my pizza dough, but fortunately for me I have an excellent source with excellent quality dough, so it makes my life easier.

butternut squash pizza with sage pesto

Serve this with a nice green salad and you’ll have a fantastic fall dinner!

(Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Butternut Squash Pizza with Sage Walnut Pesto
 
This recipe is adapted from Alexandra's Kitchen
Author:
Ingredients
  • SAGE AND WALNUT PESTO
  • 1 cup sage leaves
  • ¾ cup parsley
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ¾ cup toasted walnuts
  • ½ cup of grated Parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • and a squeeze of lemon for brightness
  • PIZZA
  • 1 dough ball, homemade or store bought, enough for 1 pizza
  • 1 butternut squash, look for a long neck so you can cut it into round slices, reserve the bulb part for something else.
  • ricotta
  • 1 smashed garlic clove
  • shredded dry mozzarella
  • parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. FOR THE PESTO
  2. Place everything into a food processor, except for the olive oil, I used my mini processor.
  3. Pulse it, chopping the nuts and combining everything then start drizzling the oil down the tube until it has a loose consistency characteristic of pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. FOR THE PIZZA AND EARLIER IN THE DAY
  5. Cut the long neck off of a butternut squash, peel it with a vegetable peeler, then cut quarter inch round slices..
  6. Roast the slices in a hot 400 degree oven drizzled with olive oil, single layer until tender, set aside.
  7. I like to let my dough sit out for a couple of hours so it becomes nice and pliable.
  8. When ready to cook, heat oven to a hot 500 degrees, oil your pizza pan then sprinkle some corn meal or polenta on the bottom.
  9. Dust your fingers with a little flour then work your dough into the pan stretching it with your finger tips until it reaches the edges, then place it into the oven for 5 minutes, no longer! Then remove it.
  10. Dough might rise up but just punch it down.
  11. Quickly mix up some ricotta with the smashed garlic and a little salt and pepper, enough to swipe and cover the whole bottom of the dough with just a thin layer.
  12. Sprinkle a little mozzarella on top then add the butternut squash rounds filling the top.
  13. Add some grated parmesan on top of the squash, then brush olive oil onto the edges of the crust then do a quick drizzle on top.
  14. Place pizza into the oven until it reaches a deep golden brown on the crust edges and bottom.
  15. While still warm add dollops of the sage and walnut pesto.

 

 

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Autumn Sformato, a Savory Italian Custard

autumn sformato I like to describe sformato as a little Italian souffle or Italian custard that can be made savory or sweet and often served in individual portions. They’re usually made in a ramekin then unmolded for a nice presentation and served with a sauce of some sort.

Here I made my favorite one, a savory version filled with a puree of butternut squash, creamy parmesan cheese and a few other ingredients that give it it’s dreamy texture.

I posted this some years ago but adjusted the recipe a little and wanted to share it with you again since it’s the perfect starter, side dish or light veggie entree for a nice autumn meal.

cooked squash

Squash is everywhere now and all you need to do is roast some up and scoop out the pulp!
squash puree and parmesan I love the combination of butternut squash and Parmesan Regggiano they compliment each other so well and are the base for this savory sformato.

autumn sformato When cooked and cooled down the sformato will unmold on to a plate very easy.

autumn sformato A parmesan cream sauce, some crispy sage, toasted pumpkin seeds and a swipe of balsamic glaze takes this over the top, and I mean over the top!

autumn sformatoautumn sformato

Each spoonful is beyond words, you have to make this!

Come see what I’m cooking up during the week, you can follow me on Instagram here.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Autumn Sformato
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash, roasted with pulp scraped out, should equal around 2 cups for 4 ramekins.
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and more for sauce and garnish
  • 2 tablespoons, mascarpone
  • ½ cup of half and half
  • salt and pepper too taste
  • SAUCE
  • 2 cups of half and half or heavy cream reduced down
  • a handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano to toss into the cream
  • balsamic glaze, pumpkin seeds, crispy sage and extra parm for garnish
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 350. I recommend doing the squash the day before or early in the day.
  2. Cut your squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper then place cut side down on parchment and roast until a knife pierces all the way through easily. Times will vary depending on the size of squash.
  3. Scoop out the squash the puree it smooth in a food processor, your squash puree is now finished.
  4. Then into a bowl add the rest of the ingredients, 2 cups of squash puree, the egg, mascarpone, parm, half and half, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour mixture into a buttered ramekin.
  6. Place ramekins into a baking dish with water to come up halfway to the sides, place a sheet of tin foil on top.
  7. Bake at 375 for around 30 to 40 minutes or until custard is set and cooked without jiggling.
  8. Let it cool down and make the sauce.
  9. PARMESAN CREAM SAUCE
  10. Reduce half and half or heavy cream in a small saucepan, cook on low heat until it thickens then turn off heat and add the cheese.
  11. Unmold your sformato onto an individual plate, spoon some of the sauce on top.
  12. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds around and a swipe of balsamic glaze.
  13. Crisp up some sage leaves in brown butter for garnish.

 

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Winter Salad with Squash and Hardy Greens

salad of squash and winter greens I don’t know about you but I’m in desperate need of some healthy salads now that the holidays are behind us, in fact I couldn’t wait to run out and buy a bunch of greens. I settled on three gorgeous heads of escarole and my favorite, cavolo nero or Tuscan kale.

I never thought of using escarole in a salad because I normally eat it cooked, in a soup or with beans but I thought these two hearty greens would hold up well together when I layered strips of roasted butternut squash on top along with roasted chickpeas, walnuts and a few other things, and I was right!

I’ve always been a kale fan for salads but now I’m a newly converted escarole salad fan. It’s crunchy, it stays crispy (which I love), it’s hardy and it has a very mild, and an ever so slight bitterness that balanced out the buttery sweet squash. Please give it a try, you won’t be disappointed and besides,it’s really nice and refreshing to break away from the norm.

butternut squash shards

I love making shards of butternut squash and then roasting them, they look so pretty in a salad or tossed into some pasta, in a frittata or on top of a pizza. I try to buy a squash that has a long neck, because basically that’s the part you’ll be using for this. Remove the skin first with your vegetable peeler then continue making strips turning the neck part as you go.

Toss them gently in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven, keep watching, they could burn quick. Sometimes I move them to the top rack to get rid of some of the moisture and keep a better eye on them.
salad of squash and winter greens

Let the squash cool down before you add it to the salad. There’s no real recipe here, just a list of ingredients that I used and that I could honestly say was so delicious and went very well together.

Along with the kale, escarole and butternut squash shards, I added roasted chickpeas, feta cheese, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds all tossed together with a vinaigrette made of olive oil and white balsamic.

This salad is hardy, healthy and just perfect to finish out the cold winter months, and don’t forget you can follow along with me on Instagram to see what I’m cooking up during the week!

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Butternut, Delicata, and Acorn Squash Gratin with Crispy Sage

winter squash gratin

Today I’m giving you a little inspiration for your Thanksgiving Day table, the holidays are right around the corner, so it’s time to start planning, can you believe it?

This deliciously creamy gratin combines three of my favorite winter squash, butternut, delicata and acorn.

winter squash gratin

They sit nice and pretty in a parmesan and garlic cream sauce and are adorned with crispy sage leaves, you couldn’t ask for a better combination of flavors!

winter squash

Besides tasting over the top amazing,  I love the presentation that happens by using the different squash shapes together.

winter squash

I pre-roasted my squash a little, then layered them into a buttered casserole dish.

winter squash gratin

The cream sauce is made ahead of time then carefully spooned all around the squash slices being careful to leave some squash peeking through, that’s what makes the presentation so pretty.

It’s a show stopper for the holiday season when we’re all allowed to indulge a little!

winter squash gratin

Wouldn’t this be dreamy sitting next to your Turkey this year?

Proud Italian Cook is on Instagram, follow me there to see what I’m cooking up daily!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Butternut, Delicata, and Acorn Squash Gratin with Crispy Sage
 
A winter squash gratin, the perfect side dish for the holiday season or just to impress your guests.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash, neck part only, skin removed, then cut into rounds
  • 1 delicata squash, skin on, then sliced into rings, remove pulp and seeds
  • 1 acorn squash, skin on, remove pulp and seeds, quarter it then make slices,
  • cut all squash about ¼ inch slices, not too thick and not too thin
  • 2 cups, heavy cream
  • 2 handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 finely grated garlic cloves, done on a microplane
  • ¾ stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage leaves
Instructions
  1. I pre- roasted all the squash just to make sure it wouldn't be hard, on a baking sheet at 400 degrees, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, just until al dente, where it still had a little bite.
  2. After they cool place squash into a buttered 13x9 casserole dish. (these first two steps can be done the day before and refrigerated overnight, before adding cream sauce.) If you do it the day before, take it out and get it to room temp, before adding sauce.
  3. TO MAKE THE CREAM SAUCE:
  4. In a small sauce pan on low flame, add butter and garlic, just until garlic is fragrant, not brown, then add cream, salt and pepper too taste.
  5. Simmer cream sauce just until the edges start to bubble, then turn off the heat and let it set up for a minute.
  6. Add the Parmigiano, stir well, then spoon the cream sauce all around the squash in casserole dish, leaving some of the squash exposed but spreading it all around and in between.
  7. Place casserole dish into a 450 degree oven until bubbly and nicely golden, keep checking.
  8. Garnish with crispy sage leaves, by melting a tablespoon or two of butter in a small pan, when butter is hot throw the leaves in and they will start to sizzle and get crispy, remove immediately.

 

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Polenta on a Board Topped with Butternut Squash and Mixed Mushrooms

polenta with mushroom and butternut squash

The weather has officially cooled down and now we’re well into the fall season, comfort foods are slowly creeping into my kitchen, and a meal that I love making in this cooler weather is, creamy warm polenta topped with pretty much anything.

I’ve posted polenta several times on this blog, but this time I’m serving it on a wooden board, yes a board, it’s casual, rustic, communal and a fun way to eat it.

Cook up your polenta, make it nice and creamy, then immediately pour it onto a wooden board, spread it around then top it with almost anything you can imagine. It’s the perfect base for sauteed greens, a nice meaty red sauce, roasted veggies, a wild mushroom ragu, even poached eggs, the list is endless!

You can use any size wooden cutting board that you might have, or buy a designated polenta board that is either round or a very long rectangle, both can be placed in the center of a table for a big polenta party, depending on the size you can either double or even triple the recipe, or you can use a pizza peel like I did, which is a good size for a smaller amount.

assorted raw mushrooms

I decided to top mine with oyster, crimini and beech mushrooms, I love the different variety of mushrooms I’m seeing all over.

roasted butternut squah

And of course butternut squash because they’re a match made in heaven!

roasted mushrooms with garlic and thyme

I roast both of the veggies ahead of the time and with the mushrooms I like to add some garlic and thyme.

polenta with mushroom and butternut squash

Place everything on top, put your board in the middle of the table, grab a spoon or a fork and dig in!

polenta with mushroom and butternut squash

Proud Italian Cook is also on Instagram, you can find me here.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Polenta on a Board Topped with Butternut Squash and Mixed Mushrooms
 
A casual and fun way to eat creamy polenta!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into a small dice, then tossed in olive oil and pre-roasted on a sheet pan at 400 degrees until lightly golden
  • assorted mushrooms of your choice, at least 1½ lbs. pre-roasted at 400 degrees with 3 chopped garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of quick cooking polenta
  • 4 cups of liquid, I like to use 2 cups milk and 2 cups broth
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • a little butter and olive oil
Instructions
  1. Put the liquid and salt into a heavy pot, get it to boiling then reduce heat to a low simmer and whisk in the polenta, then get a wooden spoon and get stirring until nice and creamy.
  2. Take it off the stove add in a tablespoon of butter, a drizzle of olive oil and the cheese, stirring until incorporated.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Quickly spread onto your wooden board, then top with all your veggies.
  5. Drizzle more olive oil on top, and a little more grated cheese, serve immediately

 

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Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll Ups

butternut squash lasagna roll ups I’m sorry,  but I’m at it again with butternut squash. I can’t help it, it’s so creamy, delicious and nutritious and it just screams fall to me! Not only that, it’s versatile and can be used in various dishes, just check out my archives for several different ways that I’ve used it in the past.

Sure, I’ve made your typical type lasagna using butternut squash but recently I realized that I never used it in a lasagna roll up.

I’m seriously considering this as my pasta side for Thanksgiving dinner this year, it’s that good!

butternut squash sauce Now lets talk sauce, which is based on a recipe from Chef frank De Carlo, well it just elevates the dish and funny thing is, you don’t really need alot. If you look at my top photo you’ll see I just put a little on the bottom of my baking dish and then I spooned some on top of each roll up, it’s not heavy at all, it’s dreamy!

Infuse some sage into melted butter and shallots, deglaze with broth, whisk in a small amount of pureed squash, add a little bit of cream and some parmesan. This is definitely party worthy!

butternut squash filling Roasted and mashed butternut squash, chopped spinach, a mixture of  ricotta, parmesan and asiago with a slight hint of garlic and lemon zest fills the pasta noodles.

butternut squash lasagna roll upsbutternut squash lasagna roll ups The day I made this my whole family stopped over for one reason or another, I made a big salad to go along with it, and it was devoured in seconds!

butternut squash lasagna roll ups

Great as a stand alone meal right now, but certainly worthy for the upcoming holiday season. I see Thanksgiving side written all over this!
winter squash

Lucky me, I was the recipient of all these beautiful squashes, so no doubt you will be seeing more squash recipes here in the future.

They were sent to me by a wonderful local company called Door to Door Organics, where you can have fresh organic and local produce, plus grocery items delivered right to your home. It’s funny because I had used them myself way before they ever even contacted me.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know how I love my veggies so this offer for me to try was a win win for me! I remember in the dead of winter last year how happy I was to see my order sitting outside my front door. What I love about the company is that there’s is no commitment, you could stop and start whenever you want.

So for all my readers who live in the Chicagoland area and want to give Door to Door Organics a try, here’s a ten dollar off coupon for you on your first order.

Now on to the recipe!

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll Ups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 good sized butternut squash
  • 2½ cups of cooked butternut squash for the entire recipe, 2 cups will be for filling mixture, ½ cup will be reserved for the sauce
  • 1 cup, ricotta
  • ¼ cup of frozen, chopped spinach, measured after it is drained well
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan
  • ⅓ cup of grated asiago
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove grated on a microplane
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 or 9 cooked lasagna noodles
  • FOR THE SAUCE
  • ½ cup of reserved squash pulp, pureed smoother than the pulp for the filling
  • 2 shallots, or ½ of a white onion, finely diced
  • ½ stick, unsalted butter
  • 1 small bunch of sage leaves
  • ¾ cup of stock, I used chicken
  • ¾ cup of cream
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare your squash ahead of time. Cut lengthwise, with skin still on, remove seeds and roast the squash, cut side down at 350 degrees until tender and a knife goes through with ease, close to an hour. Let it cool, then scoop out pulp.
  2. FILLING MIXTURE
  3. Mash 2 cups of the squash pulp into small chunks, making it easy for spreading.
  4. Add in ricotta, egg, cheeses,grated garlic, zest, salt and pepper, mix together well, then fold in spinach until incorporated.
  5. SAUCE
  6. Make your sauce by sauteing shallots in the butter with the sage leaves until slightly golden, then deglaze with the broth and whisk in the ½ cup of the well pureed squash that was reserved until nice and smooth on low heat.
  7. Whisk in the cream and add the grated parmesan cheese
  8. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  9. INSTRUCTIONS
  10. Spread about 3 tablespoons of filling on each cooked lasagna noodle, then roll up and place them seam side down on a shallow baking dish that has some of the sauce spooned onto the bottom. Spoon sauce on top of each lasagna roll up, plus grate a little parmesan cheese on top of each.
  11. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, sauce will be set and top will be slightly golden. There should be extra sauce for serving.
  12. This whole recipe can easily be doubled.
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Butternut Squash Noodles with Sausage, Mushrooms and Kale

butternut squash "noodles" with mushrooms, sausage and kale Here I go again with my Spiralizer, but this time it’s all about butternut squash “noodles”! As soon as fall arrives you’ll always see a butternut squash or two sitting on my counter, it’s my favorite squash, it’s so versatile and easy to incorporate into so many meals.

If you did a search on my blog you would see how often I cook with it. I’ve made ravioli, polenta, lasagna, tarts, salads, pizza, I could go on and on and one of my most popular recipes, butternut squash gnocchi, I always get requests for it.

spiralizer and butternut squash I like using a Spiralizer because you really get spaghetti like strands, in the past I’ve used a julienne peeler and while that works pretty good you don’t get that curly continuous look of real spaghetti. A good tip to remember when making spiralized butternut squash is to pick a squash on the smaller size that has a long neck on it, because basically you’ll just be using the neck of the squash, just dice and roast up the bulb part for something else.

butternut squash "noodles" See how long and curly the strands are? It’s a wonderful thing!

butternut squash "noodles" You’ll have to slightly roast the squash beforehand by placing the “noodles” on a baking sheet, tossed and drizzled with olive oil, a little salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for a mere five minutes or so. I personally like to check them as they’re roasting by taking my tongs and tossing them just to make sure they don’t over cook, you want them slightly limp with no signs of burning, they’re delicate. You’re not looking for mushy and overdone, you want al’dente like pasta.

butternut squash "noodles" with sausage, mushroom and kale I added crumbles of spicy Italian sausage that I pre-cooked, roasted mushrooms and kale that was sauteed in olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes.

butternut squash "noodles" with sausage, mushroom and kale Gently toss everything together and add a ton of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and another pass of your best olive oil.

butternut squash "noodles" with sausage, mushroom and kale This is heaven in on a plate!

 

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Butternut Squash – Filled Roasted Pork Loin

butternut squash filled pork loinWhat do you get when you open up a pork loin, rub it down with garlic, olive oil and tuscan herbs, smother it with roasted mashed butternut squash and then tie it back up? I’ll tell you… The most delicious flavor combination with an absolutely beautiful presentation!

Tuscan herbs I saw this recipe in the cookbook Fabio’s Italian Kitchen, the minute I saw the photo I was smitten and couldn’t wait to make it. Swirls of butternut squash between layers of pork, what’s not to like! This is the second time I’ve made this roast, the first time I followed the original recipe but this time I adapted it a little bit using those Tuscan herbs in that cute little crock above that were gifted to me by family who vacationed in Florence, Italy a few months ago. It’s a combination of sage, rosemary, crushed peppercorns and thyme.

cut and rolled out pork loin The most important thing about this recipe is that you have to cut open your pork loin properly and turn it into a 1/4 inch thick slab. The book explains how to do it but I needed a visual so I found a YouTube that showed me very quickly how to do it. After I opened it up I pounded it down to the thickness I wanted.

pork loin with Tuscan herbsThen all you have to do is rub your herby mixture all over the top.

pork loin spread with butternut squash Next, take your pre-roasted and mashed butternut squash and spread that on top of your herb mixture. Feel free to use your favorite mix of herbs, any combination would do. In the book Fabio just used garlic with minced sage which I tried the first time and that was very, very good!

pork loin tied and stuffed with butternut squashNow carefully roll up the loin not pressing down too much as you don’t want that filling to squish out, then tie it up with some butchers twine!
butternut squash stuffed pork loin I wish you could have seen how the whole roast looked when it was finished and I made that first cut, it was a perfect spiral of goodness but it was pitch dark and my inside lighting did not do it justice so I took these photos the very next day for you so you could see how nice the spirals of squash turned out.

butternut squash stuffed pork loin This dish is amazing and it certainly has the ” Wow” factor! You really need to make this soon. Here’s my adapted version.

Butternut Squash – Filled Roasted Pork Loin
 
Ingredients
  • 1 small butternut squash, cut lengthwise, seeds scooped out and roasted until tender at 375 F.
  • 1 pork loin 2½ lb.
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced finely
  • 3 tablespoons or more of a Tuscan dry herb mixture of sage, rosemary, thyme and cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • heaping teaspoon of salt
  • butchers twine
Instructions
  1. After the squash is cooked tender and cooled, mash it up.
  2. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, herbs, garlic and salt together and let it sit for a bit.
  3. Open up your pork loin to ¼ inch thickness
  4. Rub oil and herb mixture all over the top.
  5. Spread mashed butternut squash on top and all over herb mixture.
  6. Start at one end and roll up and tie with butchers twine.
  7. Place pork loin in a roasting pan, brush with more oil and herb mixture then roast in the oven at 375 F. until internal temperature reaches 165 F.
  8. Cut into thick slices and present the whole loin at the table for serving.
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Creamy Polenta with Butternut Squash and Spinach

polenta with butternut squash and spinachI can’t think of a better dish for a cold wintery night. Creamy, cheesey, polenta laced with roasted butternut squash and chopped spinach. Guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out. Comfort food in the most delicious way!
Christmas wreath Chicago received it’s first snow yesterday and with temperatures predicted mostly in the teens all week the reality of winter is in full force, so it’s comfort foods that are calling my name.polenta with spinach and butternut squash Hearty enough to eat alone or with a nice green salad or it’s just plain wonderful as a side dish next to baked chicken or roasted pork.polenta with sausage and peppers Have leftovers? No problem, you can easily morph your leftover butternut squash polenta into another meal by topping it with chunks of Italian sausage and roasted peppers, this is crazy good!

butternut squash polenta with sausage and peppersbutternut squash polenta with poached egg But if all you have left is just a teeny bit, no worries, you can mold it into a small ramekin, warm it up, unmold and plop a cooked egg on the top, my favorite!

Creamy Polenta with Butternut Squash and Spinach
 
Ingredients
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into small dice and pre-roasted
  • 1 cup, instant style polenta
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh spinach
  • ½ cup or so grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low sodium store bought
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra olive oil for drizzling
Instructions
  1. Roast squash at 400 degrees on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast around 15 minutes or until slightly golden. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan add the broth, water, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and slowly start whisking in the polenta, keep whisking so as not to get lumps, it will bubble and squirt, be careful!
  4. Switch over to a wooden spoon and keep stirring until thickened, remove from heat.
  5. Fold in the grated cheese, the spinach and the butternut squash, drizzling more olive oil all over the top.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Leftover polenta can be warmed up the next day by adding more water or broth, or leftovers can be molded into ramekins.
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Shaved Brussels Sprouts Tart

brussel sprout tartI always keep a box of phyllo in my fridge because I know I can create a quick and easy tart using whatever vegetables I have on hand. In this case I had a bag of shaved brussels sprouts that I got from Trader Joe’s and some leftover roasted butternut squash and before I knew it, a tart was born!
brussel sprout tart prep Phyllo is so forgiving and that’s why I like it, you can wing it, patch it and it still looks beautiful in the end. I usually use five or six layers for my 9″ tart pan, each layer sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with grated romano or parmesan then topped with the cheese of your choice so that all the toppings can sink right into it. I like to use a cheese that melts really good like fontina, gruyere, mozzarella or asiago which happened to be the one I chose for mine. I recommend grating your cheese first then spreading it evenly all over the top, I got lazy as you can see, but it still worked!

brussel sprout tartMy squash was already roasted and the brussels sprouts were quickly sauteed in olive oil until they wilted slightly.
brussel sprout tart Ready for the oven!

brussel sprout tartThe phyllo gives this tart a nice crispy, crunchy bottom which is a great base to hold all your toppings. The sky’s the limit on what to top your tart with, another favorite I love is caramelized onions, butternut squash and kale, try that next time around!

brussel sprout tart All you need is a salad or a bowl of soup along side this tart and it becomes the perfect dinner, lunch or brunch.

Congratulations to Terri of Terri’s Table, you’re the winner of my giveaway and the book, SOUTHERN ITALIAN DESSERTS!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Tart
 
Ingredients
  • 9" removable bottom tart pan, sprayed or brushed with olive oil
  • 6 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 10 oz. bag of shaved brussels sprouts or shave your own by using the slicing disk on your food processor.
  • 1 cup of diced and pre-roasted butternut squash
  • shredded asiago cheese, enough to completely cover tart pan
  • ½ cup or so, grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and prepare tart pan by brushing or spraying with olive oil
  2. You need to wilt the brussels sprouts by either placing them in the oven on a roasting pan drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper or stove top just for a few minutes.
  3. Place the first sheet of phyllo into tart pan, press down and fit it in, spray or brush sheet with olive oil then sprinkle with romano and black pepper, repeat remaining 5 sheets the same way making sure to always cover your phyllo with wax paper while working with it so it doesn't dry out.
  4. Distribute shredded asiago all over.
  5. Spread the sprouts all over the shredded cheese then dot with the pre-roasted butternut squash.
  6. Drizzle top of the tart with olive oil and sprinkle more romano cheese all over.
  7. Place in oven 20-25 minutes or until phyllo is nice and golden.
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Homemade Kale Ricotta Gnocchi

pan fried kale gnocchiI still have so much kale growing in my garden, I think it loves the cooler weather. I’ve already froze a bunch to put into soups, made my kale pesto, and since I’ve had gnocchi on my mind I thought, why not add some in there?
ricer I don’t remember where I got this tip from but if you’re trying to squeeze out all the liquid from frozen or boiled spinach, kale, or any other leafy green, use a potato ricer! Even when I think I squeezed it all out by hand I’m so surprised how much more liquid comes out using the ricer, it’s amazing and it’s key to making this kind of gnocchi because you don’t ever want your dough to be really wet.

kale dough
Same thing goes for your ricotta, especially if you buy it from a good Italian deli. I usually always have some liquid in the container when I bring my ricotta home, that too needs to be drained really well to achieve a good gnocchi dough, in fact I think it is key.

kale dough I like to drain my ricotta in a strainer over a bowl that I keep in my fridge overnight, when your ricotta is nice and cold the dough comes together beautifully, if the ricotta is warm or room temperature it tends to be more sticky and you’ll keep adding more flour which in turn makes your gnocchi heavier, and we don’t want heavy gnocchi do we?

making kale gnocchi
Feel free to replace the kale for spinach or even swiss chard, but I have to tell you this was so good that I’ll be making it again and again!

kale gnocchi Light and tender little pillows of dough filled with ricotta, parmesan or romano cheese and kale, surprisingly quick to whip up!

kale gnocchiI decided to make mine 2 different ways, pan-fried with butternut squash in a brown butter sage sauce, and the more traditional way, boiled and tossed into a light homemade marinara. Please, never use jarred sauce from the grocery store!

pan fried gnocchi Gnocchi takes only a few minutes to cook, toss them into boiling salted water, give them one good stir, let them rise to the top and boil for an additional 2 minutes, scoop them out with a wide hand strainer. Never pour them directly into a strainer for fear they might break, you must be gentle and handle with care.

For the pan-fried version you scoop them out of the water and immediately toss them into your hot and sizzling brown butter sauce, let them get slightly crispy golden on each side.

pan fried gnocchiThis is a perfect dish for the fall season, I added small diced pre-roasted butternut squash and tossed it in with the gnocchi. Finish the dish off with freshly grated parmesan cheese scattered all over the top, perfection!


pan fried kale gnocchi
 Slightly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and flavored so good, it doesn’t get better than this, one of my absolute favorites!

kale gnocchiUnless you prefer them simply boiled and tossed into homemade marinara, ( I repeat… homemade!) my husbands favorite way.
kale gnocchi 
Either way you choose you won’t go wrong, I promise!

Homemade Kale Ricotta Gnocchi
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups of drained ricotta, nice and cold
  • ¼ cup of grated cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of cooked, squeezed dry, then pulse chopped in a food processor of either kale, spinach or swiss chard.
  • 1 cup or so of unbleached AP flour
Instructions
  1. Place ricotta, grated cheese, salt and pepper into a bowl, whisk egg then add in.
  2. If ricotta is lumpy, which it usually is, take a hand mixer on low to break up the lumps and just to incorporate all the ingredients.
  3. Turn off the mixer and stir in the kale, I know it sounds like a small amount but the kale is damp and it all clumps together, when stirred it incorporates and distributes very well, 3 heaping tablespoons worked for the amount of flour and ricotta I used, but feel free to use more if you like.
  4. Then fold in flour, little by little, you might need less or you might need more, but dough should come together quickly.
  5. Lightly flour your finger tips and a board.
  6. Cut off a chunk then roll it into a round snake, then cut off bite size pieces.
  7. Leave as is or make indention's with a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork.
  8. Toss gnocchi into salted boiling water, let them float to the top and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, taste for doneness, then scoop them out with a hand strainer.
  9. Toss into your favorite sauce and eat immediately.
  10. For pan-fried, drain them and crisp them up in the sizzling butter sage sauce, then add small diced pre- roasted butternut squash and plenty of parmesan cheese.
  11. For my marinara sauce or additional sauce ideas for gnocchi, check out my e-book on Italian Sauces.
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Butternut Squash Cannelloni with Ricotta and Kale and a Lemony Sage Brown Butter Sauce

stuffed cannelloni It’s that time of year when you start seeing butternut squash all over the place, it’s my favorite kind of squash so I usually always have one on hand sitting on my counter ready and waiting for me whenever I need it. I’ve made scones with butternut squash, individual lasagna, stuffed shells, gnocchi, ravioli, tossed it in salads, soups, risotto’s. I made other lasagna, sformato, tarts and even pizza with it, and I’m sure I missed a few, but never stuffed it into cannelloni, until now!cooked squash Fresh ricotta, kale, parmesan and a little lemon zest gets mixed into the tender baked squash for a very flavorful filling.pasta sheets Try to get a hold of some good quality fresh pasta sheets, you could make your own if you like especially if your doing it for a crowd or for the holidays but this is my quick mid-week version.  I like to cut my store bought pasta sheets in half, I find the cannelloni gets too doughy otherwise. So for every sheet of pasta I can make two cannelloni.filled cannelloni Spoon on a generous amount of filling then roll them up and place each one seam side down on a buttered baking dish.stuffed cannelloni

When finished, spoon the nutty brown butter sage sauce that has a touch of lemon all over the cooked cannelloni, tossed together a nice salad, and dinner is ready!

Butternut Squash Cannelloni with Ricotta and Kale and a Lemony Sage Brown Butter Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 package of good quality premade pasta sheets
  • 1 lb. ricotta drained of liquid
  • ¼ cup of chopped cooked kale, squeezed and drained (swiss chard or spinach will also work)
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped and smashed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • xxxx
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 10 sage leaves
  • juice of ½ a lemon
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds. Add squash to a parchment lined baking sheet then drizzle both halves with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tender and knife tip goes through easily, about 45-60 minutes. Let it cool completely then scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
  3. Add ricotta, egg, grated cheese, garlic, zest and squash into a food processor and pulse, just until mixed. You can also whip it all together by hand.
  4. Add in the chopped kale little by little folding in between, just making sure the greenness of the kale doesn't overwhelm the ricotta mixture.
  5. xxxxx
  6. Cook pasta sheets for 2 minutes in boiling water, then cool them in an ice water bath. Drain on tea towels.
  7. xxxx
  8. For assembly, cut pasta sheet in half, my package had 8 sheets so I was able to make 16 cannelloni from it. Add filling then roll up placing them seam side down on a buttered baking dish.
  9. xxxx
  10. For the sauce, melt butter in a sauce pan on medium until bubbly and golden brown, throw in all 10 sage leaves, let them sizzle and get crisp.
  11. Take sauce off heat and squeeze in juice from ½ lemon.
  12. xxxx
  13. Spoon a tiny bit of sauce on top of each shell and sprinkle each with grated parmesan or romano. Loosely cover with foil and place in 400 oven until filling is cooked, around 15 minutes, remove foil spoon remaining sauce on top along with the crispy sage leaves. Place back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove and enjoy!
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Savory Kale and Pumpkin Scones

The next time you have a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove take the extra time and whip up a batch of these savory scones, don’t they just scream fall?
They’re  crunchy, cheesy, and filled with all things good, like pumpkin, kale and of course… a little bit of butter!
Make sure you buy a sweet pumpkin that’s for cooking and baking, or better yet, just use a butternut squash, it’s a lot easier to peel and cut, it tastes good, and you’ll still be getting that pretty orange color.
You can even make them ahead of time, stick them in the freezer and warm up as needed.
I used a wonderful aged cheddar in mine and added kale that is still growing strong in my garden.
These yummy scones came from, ” The Book of Kale” by Sharon Hanna, and the recipe has been reprinted here.
I followed her recipe exactly but also added in about 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese, why not?
Perfect with a steamy hot bowl of soup!

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Acorn and Butternut Squash Sformato with Parmesan Cream and Balsamic Glaze

Sformato is a molded dish similar to a souffle, heartier in texture and not as airy. I’ve seen them made with peas, spinach, fennel, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and carrots just to name a few. It can be served as a first course, a side dish or a light vegetable entree.

Recently I’ve made both the acorn and butternut squash versions, and I seriously can’t tell you which one I liked best, just one taste and you’ll be forever hooked! Think about it, intensely flavored squash mixed in with a cheesy creamy goodness that creates a fluffy- like texture and topped off with a sweet balsamic glaze!

Now don’t let the ingredients scare you, it’s a little on the decadent side but the recipe fills 4 ramekins so do the math, it’s not that much. So far I’ve made this as a side with pork chops and I’ve eaten it alone just with a salad, a perfect autumn veggie dinner!

Roasting your squash ahead of time makes it all come together really quick. Which ever squash you use cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut side down on parchment 350F until knife goes through, time varies depending on size of squash. Scoop out the squash and puree in a food processor. Into a bowl place **2 cups of pureed squash** 1 egg** 1/3 cup of grated parmesan or romano cheese** 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese** 1/2 cup of half and half** salt and pepper**. Pour the mixture almost to the top of buttered ramekins. Place in a baking pan with water to come about halfway up the sides, cover and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until the mixture is set and cooked through. Let rest a few moments, unmold and serve. 4 servings

Place your little Italian souffle in a puddle of parmesan cream sauce if you so desire, made by reducing cream ( I used half and half) in a pan and sprinkling in some parmesan cheese. To finish it off drizzle on some balsamic glaze!

Recipe inspired by Chef Tony Priolo

I’m quite sure you’re going to thank me for this one!

Buon Appetito!
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Kale Made Three Ways

Three flavors that I adore together are caramelized onions, kale and butternut squash, there’s something about the sweetness of the onions, the slightly bitterness of the greens and the buttery squash, it just creates the perfect balance! I was inspired to make this pie after I had a slice for lunch from my local Whole Foods deli. They added pancetta but honestly you don’t need it, I think my version with out it was better, plus I added the caramelized onions which made it irresistible!

Our garden soil must be good for kale because it keeps growing and growing so I’m constantly thinking of ways to use it. I recently started freezing it and it’s actually nice to be able to reach in the bag and take out just what I need.

After I give it a good wash and snip off the stems I rough chop the leaves and place them into boiling water for a quick 3 minutes, drain and let it cool down on a baking sheet then pack it in a freezer bag for future use.

For my version of the Kale and Butternut Squash Pie I roasted the squash ahead of time and I slow cooked the onions and leeks for around 40 minutes until golden brown and sweet, don’t rush them, low and slow, and be generous with the grated parmesan cheese!

I used this recipe which is close to the Whole Foods version I had, it also helped me figure out the phyllo part, which btw, was very easy and forgiving.

All that goodness contained in crispy phyllo dough makes the perfect dinner or lunch!

I had leftover ingredients from the pie so I made this Kale and Butternut Squash Soup, light and not too heavy, perfect for the cool autumn weather we’re recently experiencing.

Ingredients were: kale, butternut squash, caramelized onions and leeks, garlic, cherry tomatoes, a can of chickpeas or beans cooked in a vegetable broth, if you have cheese rinds throw them in all the better! In no time you’ll have a comforting bowl of good for you soup!

I’ve made this Kale Pizza several times already, this is a favorite of my husband and BIL and they request it often, again it’s just those flavor combinations that go so well together. No butternut squash here just kale, caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes and fontina cheese.

Baked on top of a crispy pizza crust. Two big burly guys didn’t even miss the meat!

Now for the winner of the signed copy of Cucina Povera!

The winner is… Barbara F.
Barb congrats! Please email me with your address to
prouditaliancook@hotmail.com

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