Monday, November 9, 2009

Fall Filling

I just got back from Foodbuzz's 1st Annual Blogger Festival in San Francisco and I can't wait to post about all the amazing foods and beverages I got to taste and learn about. I'm still buzzin' high off of the sensory overload of eating and drinking for about 2 days straight. But first things first- a recipe for you dear reader.

A couple weeks back, I was finally ready to experiment with doing rice paper raviolis. I was ready. However, the markets were not. It was a particularly busy weekend and even though I tried to plan out my shopping well, I ended up with all of my filling ingredients and none of the rice paper. You see, everywhere I went (and I went to about 4 Asian markets and 2 grocery stores) they were out of true rice paper, the kind without glutinous flour. I still don't even understand where all the rice paper went because there were no major holidays that weekend that could have caused a shortage. But I digress...

Plan B was going to use the filling for a veggie lasagna with eggplant, but the eggplants did not look good at the store I was at when I came up with that solution. By the time I decided I could make it with zucchini (we'll call this Plan C,) I was in a grocery store that didn't have zucchini and while I'd like to say I drove to another store, I was beat, and returned home. I knew I had some quinoa pasta in the house and I figured I'd do a baked pasta with the filling (Plan D.) One day, I will make you raviolis. One day...

The important moral of this Plan A-D story is not to give up. When you're working off your own mental recipes, which I do a lot, you often have to let what's available alter the course of the meals you make. Was Plan D my intended use of this filling? No. But was Plan D just as good with this filling? The answer is yes.

The filling turned out delicious. My tongue would say it's a celebration of the sweet fall flavoring of it's star- butternut squash. Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall flavors, and in my opinion, is absolutely classic to American autumnal cooking. This is a super easy and quick filling to make and you can go semi-homemade by using some store bought sauce if you're having a hectic week. And although the filling is nice and gluten-free for me, it can be used for manicotti, ravioli, lasagna, or baked ziti be it GF or non-GF.

Fall Filling
for Pastas of all Kinds

15 oz ricotta cheese, part skim or regular
1-1.25 lb butternut squash, cubed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tbs dried basil
2 tsp crushed garlic (I use Trader Joe's jar of crushed garlic)
1 cup Quattro Formaggio cheese blend (Trader Joe's has my fave)
1 cup tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
1 lb ground turkey, optional

Place squash in a steaming basket of a large pot, filled with about an inch of water.
Steam squash covered for about 20-25 minutes until soft.
*If you choose to add the meat, brown ground turkey with olive oil in a large pan.
*During the browning, add salt, pepper, basil and garlic.
*If you choose not to add the meat, we'll just add the spices to the mixture later...
When squash is done, mash in a large bowl with a masher or fork.
Add ricotta, seasoning, cheese, and sauce and stir until well incorporated.
Taste. If the seasoning or sauce in the mix is less than you'd like, play with the balance and find what does!! I tend to like a little less sauce and a little more garlic myself ;)

This makes a nice amount of filling. I think it will fill a medium lasagna, especially if you're adding more cheese, and would make a tray of stuffed shells or manicotti. Let's just say I had baked pasta for a while. A long while. But a tasty long while.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

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