Butternut Squash, Kale and Apricot Salad

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It’s official, we’ve entered squash season! All kinds of squash are popping up in the grocery stores and my blog feed and Pinterest seems to be overflowing with squash recipes.

Personally, butternut is my favorite of the Fall squashes. I recently heard that it was given it’s name because of it’s buttery softness and taste, I’m not sure if this is true, but it certainly is fitting.

A simple vinaigrette is all this salad needs to top it. I made a quick mixture of olive oil, chili herb vinegar, honey and a tiny bit of chili powder to add just the tiniest kick to offset the sweetness of the squash and the apricots.

Butternut Squash, Kale and Apricot Salad
2 cups roasted butternut squash cubes (see below)
1 bunch baby kale
1 cup dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces goat cheese

To make the roasted butternut squash cubes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash, cut it in half lengthwise and chop into 1 inch cubes. Toss the cubes in a bowl with olive oil and whatever spices you prefer. I like to add salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon to mine but use whatever flavors you like best. Place the cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes until they’ve softened.

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To prepare the salad just wash and dry the kale, top it with the roasted squash, the apricots, red onion slices and crumble the goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

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Squash Fritters

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! It was great to have a chance to go home and spend some time with my family. These fritters are inspired by a dish my Uncle made for Thanksgiving dinner. He mentioned that he had a bunch of leftover squash from his CSA basket and needed to come up with a way to use them up. I’ve been in a similar situation with a variety of squash taking over my valuable counter space so I decided I’d try to make something similar.

I combined a butternut and a spaghetti squash for these but you could use pretty much any variety you have hanging around. Frying them in a pan gives them a nice crispy exterior and keeps the inside pretty soft. I also toss them in the oven for a few minutes after taking them out of the pan to help them crisp up even more. This will make about 30-40 fritters, but they’re sure to go fast! photo(22)

Squash Fritters
2 squash of any variety
2 large eggs
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cups flour
olive oil
salt
pepper
cinnamon
nutmeg

1. Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast the squash at 375 for about an hour – until they’re soft.

2. Remove your roasted squash from the oven and let them cool a bit. Once cooled, begin to scoop out the insides and add them to a large bowl (be careful not to get the skins).

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3. Mash up the squash mixture with a fork or a potato masher. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

4. Add your eggs to the squash and combine well. Then, begin adding your flour 1/2 cup at a time until you reach a sticky consistency.

5. Heat up your oil in a frying pan on medium heat, use enough oil to coat to the bottom of the pan.

6. Once your oil is hot, carefully scoop a dollop of the squash mixture into the oil – it should sizzle when added. If it doesn’t sizzle, let the oil get hotter before adding your next fritter. Fry the fritters 3-4 at a time, careful to not overcrowd the pan. You will probably need to change your oil a few times in order to cook the whole batch.

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7. Cook fritters for 3-4 minutes on each side. Then place them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 350 for another ten minutes. Enjoy!

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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I think I eat about twice as much mac n cheese as a normal human being should.  Whenever the mac n cheese food truck is even remotely near my office I can’t resist.  It’s just one of those foods that pretty much always sounds good to me.

This week a lone butternut squash was the only farm basket ingredient we had left to use by Sunday, so I was searching for something creative and relatively simple to do with it.  This recipe satisfied the need to use up the squash, and eat something cheesy and carby.  I was afraid adding squash to such a comfort food type of dish would end up kind of strange, but it’s actually not weird at all!

The one thing no one seems to mention about cooking with squash is how difficult it is to cut!  I mean I know I’m pretty weak but I still think cutting open a squash qualifies as a days work out.

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese
1 medium butternut squash
3/4 box of small pasta (elbows or shells work best)
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt, pepper and cinnamon to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and brush the insides with olive oil a bit of salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast for about 45 minutes, until tender.

2. When your squash is cooked, lower the oven to 350 and let the squash cool for a bit. Carefully scoop out the insides of the squash, being sure not to get any of the skin.

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3. Cook your pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  When it’s cooked add it to a large oven pan

4. In a large saucepan melt the butter on medium – low heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk continuously. Next add your heavy cream and continue to stir.  Then add the cheese and the squash and continue stirring until the cheese has melted and everything is combined.  Add a pinch of cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Pour the cream sauce over the cooked pasta and top with breadcrumbs.

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6. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, enjoy!

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Butternut Squash Ravioli

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Homemade pasta is one of my all time favorite foods.  I feel like a person can never fully appreciate eating homemades until they understand that work that goes into making them.  Not that it’s hard, but definitely time consuming and patience requiring.  I’ve only attempted to make ravioli one other time and that was a complete disaster that scarred me for awhile.  I had a grand plan for an entirely homemade meal.  I was making the ravioli, making the ricotta for the filling and of course making the sauce.  Four hours later, I had a pot full of ricotta that tasted like scrambled eggs, a burnt pot of sauce and and a table full of pasta sheets that had become too brittle to cut into any shape.

I guess I’ve finally emotionally recovered from this event since I had the courage to give home made raviolis a second try this weekend.  I had a gigantic butternut squash that had to be used, so  I decided to make a very simple filling out of that.  Instead of the typical brown butter sage sauce I opted for herbs that I like a bit more.  I’m pleased to say that this attempt was much more successful. I know this recipe is long and daunting to look at, but it’s really not difficult, just a little time consuming but totally worth it for the outcome!

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Pasta Dough:
4 cups all purpose flour
6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

**A quick note on the eggs: normally I would only use 4-5 eggs for 4 cups of flour but the eggs I had were pretty small so I added an extra, if you’re using larger eggs you shouldn’t need as many

1. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and push most of it out to the sides to create a well

2. Crack the eggs in a bowl and add them to the middle of the well of flour

3. Using the dough hook begin to mix the eggs into the flour and salt, when they’ve started to combine drizzle in the olive oil

4. Let the mixer go until the dough has formed into a ball, remove the dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes

5. After the dough has rested, break it into 6 smaller pieces and start running it through your pasta maker until it reaches the desired thickness – since you’ll be filling the dough you don’t want to go all the way to the last setting as it makes the pasta more likely to break. My machine tops out at 9 and I stopped running my dough through at 7

Butternut Squash Filling:
**You’ll want to have your squash mixture ready before you being to roll your pasta sheets out to avoid them drying out too much to cut
1 medium butternut squash (the squash pictured here is quite large, I only used half of it for the filling), seeds removed and cut into 4 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cheese of your choice – I used pecorino romano but I think goat cheese would be excellent in thisphoto (22)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Combine the olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and brush the mixture all over the squash pieces

2. Roast the squash in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until you an easily stick a fork in it

3. In a bowl, mash up the cooked squash and let it sit until it has cooled

4. Add the heavy cream, cinnamon, cheese and mix together

Assemble and cook the pasta:
1. Take one pasta sheet and add a small amount of the mixture about every 1 1/2 inchesphoto (23)

2. Lay another pasta sheet over that one and push together the top and bottom parts of the dough that surround the mixture to seal the pasta
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3. Use a ravioli cutter to cut out the shapes, if you don’t have a ravioli cutter you can use the opening of a small cup or a cookie cutter

4. Once they’re all cut out, cook them in small batches for 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water, they should float to the top when they’re cooked

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Herbed Brown Butter Sauce:
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon basil
1 1/2 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepperphoto (26)
1 teaspoon oregano

1. Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat, still it while melting until it starts to brown

2. Add herbs and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes

3. Top the raviolis with the sauce, some extra cheese and whatever else you like (I added some green onions) and enjoy!