Dinner · Pasta · Vegetarian

Penne with Winter Squash and Kale

This is a great example of a dish that can be prepared on a weeknight without taking over the whole evening. The ingredients are very simple, and many of them are winter staples that you probably have sitting around in your pantry or fridge.

roasted delicata squashThe recipe uses both the oven and the stovetop, significantly cutting down preparation time and making things easier for those of us that cook in close quarters.

squash and kale pasta

In addition, delicata squash makes a great choice here. It can be roasted and eaten without peeling, significantly cutting down preparation time. Once the squash is in the oven, the whole meal comes together in 30 minutes or less.

pasta with squash and kale

After a busy thanksgiving, this dish is a welcome vacation from long hours in the kitchen.

Pasta with Winter Squash and Kale Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 0z. penne pasta
  • 1 delicata squash, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/3 inch slices
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
  • splash of white wine
  • 4 oz. ricotta cheese
  • pecorino cheese, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Toss delicata squash with 1 tbsp of olive oil and place on a lined (or greased) baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. In the meantime, heat remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet.  Once hot, add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute more.
  5. Add chopped kale to the skillet.  stir until kale begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.  If desired, add a splash of wine during the last minute of cooking.
  6. Add the cooked squash and pasta to the skillet. Stir in ricotta and pecorino cheese and serve.

Makes 3 servings.

Dinner · Vegetarian

Winter Squash and Spinach Pizza

winter squash pizza

This recipe is inspired by Picco, a lovely restaurant located in Boston’s South End. While everything on the menu is top notch, my absolute favorite thing to order is the pizza covered in butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and a generous amount of fontina cheese.

For my rendition of this recipe, I decided to skip the red sauce and start with a foundation of white pizza.  I didn’t have any brussels sprouts on hand, so I replaced them with a few handfuls of fresh spinach.  I also added a few caramelized onions, since I love their sweet and savory flavor (hint: if you’re in a rush, add some balsamic vinegar to the onions near the end of cooking.  This creates a similar flavor, but takes about half the time!).

Winter Squash and Spinach Pizza Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (I suggest this recipe, but you can also buy some at your local grocery store)
  • mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ricotta cheese
  • a few handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium onion
  • cornmeal
  • olive oil

Prep:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the cubes of butternut squash in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on a prepared baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, testing for doneness with a fork. Don’t overcook, since the butternut squash will roast for 10 minutes more on top of the pizza.
  2. Cut the onion in half and slice into thin half moons. Heat oil in a small skillet on low and add onions.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until onions are evenly golden brown and caramelized.
  3. In the meantime, spread cornmeal out onto a large baking pan.  Stretch the pizza dough so that it is uniformly thin and fits nicely into the baking pan. Rub stretched dough with a light layer of olive oil.

Assemble the Pizza:

  1. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  2. Spread mozzarella cheese evenly over the pizza dough. Using a medium sized spoon, scoop ricotta out of the container and drop onto the pizza. Continue this process 10-15 more times, until pizza is evenly covered. Sprinkle spinach over the entire pizza. Use a few handfuls, keeping in mind that the spinach will shrink during cooking.
  3. Top pizza with minced garlic, caramelized onions, and cooked butternut squash cubes. Place in the hot oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until pizza is evenly browned.  Remove and let cool before serving.
Breakfast

Ricotta Blueberry Muffins

photo (3)

I have a short list of things that I always keep on hand for baking.  This list includes the basics (flour, sugar, eggs, etc.), as well as a few useful add-ins (chocolate chips, oats, dried cranberries, nuts).  And, at the bottom of that list, I have blueberries.  They’re a mainstay in my freezer, and they come in handy whenever I have a breakfast craving for something sweet.

In the past, I’ve used blueberries to amp up my pancakes, scones, and crumb cakes.  This week, they were my inspiration for muffins.  I happened to have some fresh ricotta on hand, so I decided to try out this recipe by Dorie Greenspan (you may be noticing that I pick favorites, and Dorie Greenspan is one of them).  The ricotta here substitutes in for other common dairy ingredients (whole milk, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream), giving the muffins a hearty but fluffy texture once baked.

blueberry muffins

While I really liked the look of this recipe, I found myself questioning some of the proportions midway through. The batter was much thicker than usual,  and it was almost impossible to coax into muffin cups.   I added in 1/4 cup of whole milk to change the texture a bit, and it seemed to balance the recipe out.

Also, while the recipe suggests lime zest, I’d be curious to try other varieties.  I’m pretty obsessed with orange zest right now, but lemon zest would be great as well. If you happen to have raspberries or blackberries hanging around, this batter would be a great foundation for a mixed berry muffin.

Ricotta Blueberry Muffins

Ricotta Blueberry Muffins (adapted from this recipe by Dorie Greenspan):

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • zest of half a lime
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line two cupcake pans with butter (or use cupcake liners).
  2. Mix together the sugar and the lime zest in a large bowl until it’s well incorporated.  Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Using a wire whisk, stir all the ingredients together.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix in the butter until combined.  Slowly add in the whole milk, if desired.
  4. Add the ricotta mixture to the dry ingredients using a spatula.  Mix slowly, being careful not to over mix the batter (this will make your muffins tough!).  Once the batter is combined, add the blueberries.
  5. Divide batter into the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.  Cool for 10-15 minutes.

Note: These muffins are definitely best within 1-2 days.  If you’re keeping them for longer, I would freeze or refrigerate them.