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Nov 25, 2013
12:11 PM
Local Flavor

The Perfect Squash Recipe for the Squash-Averse

The Perfect Squash Recipe for the Squash-Averse

PHOTO BY OTEHLIA CASSIDY

The below recipe for squash-stuffed manicotti will win over even picky eaters.

It’s time for my annual tribute to squash: I love you, squash. You are utterly adaptable—you work equally well in a dessert or a savory dish; you are not afraid to flaunt your brightest orange, or faintest yellow; you can be infused into a dish, mixed with cream and spices, or stand alone, roasted or braised with a sprinkle of salt; and you transcend the seasons, beguiling a summer pasta salad as readily as a winter root vegetable mash.

But my family does not feel the same way. You’re OK. No offense, because you know I feel differently. They like you … but they don’t love you. Unless you are in a sweet muffin littered with chocolate chips. But I adore your myriad possibilities, so last night I decided to sneak you into manicotti. And you know what? Every single family member gobbled it up. From the picky six-year-old who “hates” you (sorry) to the eleven-year-old who is intrigued more by your flavor than your texture, to my husband, who finds you appealing. While they may not be ready to profess undying love, I think there’s hope.

RECIPE: Squash and Ricotta-Stuffed Manicotti

INGREDIENTS

1 package manicotti (about 16 manicotti)
15 oz each whole milk ricotta cheese and cottage cheese (any kind)
1 egg
1 small butternut squash (about 2 lbs), halved and roasted, flesh scooped out
1-2 tbsp dried, crushed sage leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan
A tiny bit grated nutmeg (1/4 tsp?)
Salt and pepper
Tomato sauce (see below)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Tomato sauce:
Olive oil
1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic
32 oz peeled whole or diced romas
1 tsp honey (optional)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Sauté onions in oil until soft and edges brown a tiny bit.
Add garlic, tomatoes, honey and bay leaf. Simmer partially covered over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Time saver: Can make ahead and store in fridge or freeze.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Parboil manicotti until al dente, toss with oil and set aside to cool. Mix squash, ricotta, cottage cheese, parmesan, egg and spices in a bowl and stir until well blended. Tip: Can make a day ahead and store in fridge.

Stuff manicotti with ricotta mixture. (I sliced manicotti down one side to make it easier.) Put a bit of sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan. Lay stuffed manicotti side by side in pan. Top with tomato sauce and grated cheese. Tip: Can cover and freeze at this point. Thaw before baking.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until just golden brown on edges. Serve hot, with salad.

Leftovers keep for days in the fridge!

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About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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