Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Butternut Squash = Ricotta

As you know, this was my first year for butternut squash, and I had a great harvest.  Now, with more than a dozen of the little beauties safely cellared downstairs, it is time to start eating the bounty.

The problem is, neither Mr. FC&G nor I come from a food culture that typically uses squash.  Squash did not appear regularly on either of our tables growing up, so we don't have the intrinsic understanding how the vegetable is used.  This is in contrast to things like tomatoes, where we know exactly how they taste raw and cooked and have lots of ideas about the ways they can be used.  But butternut squash is kind of a mystery, beyond whipped squash, which we have tried (and found yummy) and soup, which we have not.

Enter lasagna!  The thought occurred to me that squash is relatively bland, kind of soft when cooked, and takes on the flavor of what you put into it.  Therefore, in my mind, it is ricotta cheese! 

To add a little of this very-nutritious veggie to my meal, I took my standard lasagna recipe, which has a layer that is made of ricotta, egg, some spices, and some Parmesan cheese.  I replaced this with:

3 small squash, halved and baked in a shallow pan of water until the flesh is soft
2 cloves garlic, chopped
fresh ground black pepper
a small handful Swiss chard, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan

Seed your squash, bake it, and remove the flesh.  Mash it up until it is a soft texture, then add the remaining ingredients.  Use this as the ricotta layer in your favorite recipe, and proceed as usual.

I really found the results very tasty, and I know I got some extra veggies in my diet and some expenses out of my budget.

The Analysis

Fast:  Baking the squash is an extra step that takes some time, so this is a good weekend recipe.  Then again, baking the squash takes no more time than making fresh ricotta, so it is a wash in that respect.

Cheap:  Obviously, cellared squash with homegrown garlic and chard is way cheaper than buying ricotta and eggs.  Fewer calories, too.

Good:  The squash really took on the flavors of the garlic and pepper without tasting vegetable-y at all.  I think this one is a winner.
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1 comment :

  1. Very interesting............I for one have never had squash in any form that I know of so.
    The picture of the dsh looks so delicious that I sure would try it. Good!