Butternut Squash, Sage, & Ricotta Manicotti

I made this baked pasta dish to serve on Thanksgiving Eve. My Mother-in-Law asked that I post the recipe so that she could make it to serve to vegetarian guests. It was such a compliment! This post is quite belated- oops. :/

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. I used manicotti noodles instead of lasagna and modified the proportions. I boiled the squash in the salted pasta water but may roast it instead next time to enhance its flavor. It was cheesy, creamy, and rich comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 6 T olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (8 oz each) packages manicotti (there will be leftover noodles)
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 large shallots, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 16 to 20 whole leaves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 (15 oz each) containers of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. In a large pot of boiling, generously salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Using tongs, transfer pasta to a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Add squash to boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain squash and transfer to a bowl. (Alternatively, the squash can be roasted at 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast, until lightly browned and tender, about 25 to 35 minutes.)
  5. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer sautéed shallots to the bowl with the squash and add 4 tablespoons milk, chopped sage, and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until a rough puree forms.
  7. Fill a gallon ziplock bag with the squash mixture. Cut an opening in one bottom corner of the bag, large enough to fit the opening of the manicotti noodles.
  8. Pipe the squash mixture into the manicotti noodles, about 1/4 cup each. Place each filled noodle into the prepared baking dish. (I had 8 cooked noodles leftover.)
  9. In a bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup milk and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Spread ricotta mixture over cannelloni and top with remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan.
  11. Bake until warmed through, about 25 minutes.
  12. Broil until top is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium to medium-high. Fry whole sage leaves until crispy, 15 to 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels.
  14. Serve the casserole topped with fried sage.

Cornbread Dressing with Bacon & Sage

I am not usually the biggest fan of Thanksgiving stuffing but I was in love with this version. This classic Southern stuffing had wonderful flavor and a perfect balance of crunchy and custardy texture. Perfect. It will definitely be part of my Thanksgiving menu next year.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Josh Miller. The skillet cornbread is baked in a piping hot cast iron skillet sprinkled with salt- resulting in a fabulously crispy crust. This cornbread would be delicious on its own as well. I made the cornbread a day in advance. The stuffing can be completely assembled one day before serving and baking.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Dressing:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss together 5 cups cornbread cubes, torn white bread, 1/2 cup melted butter, and sage in a large bowl.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. In 2 batches, add cornbread mixture to skillet; cook, stirring, until bread is toasted, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer corn-bread mixture to a large bowl, and set aside. Wipe skillet clean.
  4. Add bacon to skillet; cook over medium, stirring often, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon; add to cornbread mixture.
  5. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet; discard remaining drippings or reserve for another use.
  6. Add onion, apple, celery, parsley, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add onion mixture to cornbread mixture.
  7. Crumble remaining 5 cups cubed cornbread into cornbread mixture.
  8. Whisk together 3 cups broth, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl until blended. Fold into cornbread mixture.
  9. Spoon mixture into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  10. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup broth and remaining 1/4 cup melted butter. Bake in preheated oven until lightly toasted, about 35 minutes.
Note: Dressing may be assembled up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill until ready to bake.

For the Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread:

  1. Add oil to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet; place skillet in oven, and preheat to 450°F, preferably on convection. (Do not remove skillet while oven preheats.)
  2. While oven preheats, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir in buttermilk until smooth; stir in eggs, then stir in butter.
  4. Carefully remove skillet from oven; pour hot oil from skillet into cornbread batter, stirring until blended.
  5. Working quickly, sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in bottom of skillet, then immediately pour batter into hot skillet (do not stir), and return to oven.
  6. Bake at 450°F until top is golden brown, about 22 minutes.
  7. Immediately invert cornbread onto a wire rack (to retain the crispy crust); let cool completely before using, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Michael & Bryan Voltaggio’s Cornbread Stuffing

My husband and I traditionally celebrate our wedding anniversary by having an extravagant dinner at VOLT in Frederick, Maryland. It is the restaurant of Bryan Voltaggio, of Top Chef fame. On our 19th anniversary, we brought home an autographed cookbook after enjoying our lovely meal. Last Thanksgiving, I made two side dishes from this special book. ❤

This stuffing recipe was adapted from Home: Recipes to Cook With Family and Friends by Bryan Voltaggio. I modified the proportions and used prepared stock as well as store-bought sausage as shortcuts.

Both the cornbread and the poultry seasoning can be made days in advance, which is always helpful. It was interesting to me that the cornbread was made without a leavening agent, making it more dense than a typical cornbread. The stuffing had a deep celery flavor from the celery seed and chopped celery. Nice.

Yield: 10 servings

For the Cornbread:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 5 T (1/3 cup, 75g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp (9g) fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp (12g) molasses, honey, or sorghum syrup
  • 1/4 tsp (0.6g) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (240g) buttermilk
  • 1 cup plus 2 1/2 T whole milk
  • 2 2/3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (276g) cornmeal

For the Poultry Seasoning:

  • 2 tsp (2g) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp (0.5g) finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp (1g) finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tsp (1g) finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp (2g) ground celery seed
  • 1 tsp (2g) ground coriander
  • 1 tsp (2g) onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp (1.5g) freshly ground black pepper

For the Topping:

  • 2/3 cup (50g) panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 1/2 T (25g) poultry seasoning (above)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted

For the Stuffing:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 1/2 cups (300g) freshly baked and cubed cornbread
  • 1 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 to 6 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey stock (preferably homemade)

For the Royale:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240g) milk or heavy cream

To Make the Cornbread:

  1. Preheat the oven heat to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection. Spray or butter the bottom and sides of two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. (One 13-by-18 inch casserole pan can be substituted.)
  2. Put the sugar, 5 tablespoons butter and the salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each one is fully incorporated before adding another.
  4. Beat in the molasses and nutmeg.
  5. Reduce the mixer to low speed, add the buttermilk and milk, and beat until incorporated.
  6. Add the flour and cornmeal, and beat on low speed until well combined.
  7. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is well-blended and thick, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times, 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking dishes. Tap each dish on the counter to settle the batter.
  9. Bake until the cornbread springs back lightly when pressed with your finger, 22 minutes on convection or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool completely in the dish on a wire rack.
  11. The cornbread may be made 3 days in advance, covered with plastic wrap, and held at room temperature.

To Make the Poultry Seasoning:

  1. Combine the parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme in a small bowl.
  2. Add the celery seeds, coriander, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  3. The seasoning can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

To Make the Topping:

  1. Put the panko breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and add the poultry seasoning (the remainder may be used to season gravies and other holiday dishes).
  2. Drizzle with the melted butter and toss with your fingers to moisten the breadcrumbs. Set aside.

To Make the Stuffing:

  1. Preheat the oven heat to 325 degrees F, preferably on convection. Spray a 9-by-13-inch flameproof casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cube the cornbread and put into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it up into small pieces with the back of a spoon so it cooks evenly, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to the cornbread.
  5. Return the same skillet with the drippings to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  6. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the carrots and celery, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables to the cornbread and sausage.
  8. Put the eggs in a blender to make the Royale. Start the blender on low-speed and mix until the eggs are just blended.
  9. Put the milk or cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and heat until a thermometer registers 180 degrees F. Add to the eggs in the blender and mix on low speed until homogenized.
  10. Add the egg mixture to the cornbread mixture.
  11. Add 2 cups of stock. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Fold everything together with a rubber spatula until fully combined and the stock has mostly been absorbed. The stuffing will seem a little too wet before baking.
  13. Spread the stuffing in the baking dish. Lightly tap the dish on the counter to even out the mixture in the pan.
  14. Add the topping, letting it fall from your fingers in an even layer across the top.
  15. Bake the stuffing until very hot and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  16. Turn the broiler on high, and broil the stuffing until the crust is GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious), 3 to 5 minutes.
  17. Serve family-style from the casserole dish.

Note: When blending hot liquids, first let cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open; this will prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters and pulse until smooth.

Acorn Squash Saltimbocca with Browned Butter Sauce

I almost exclusively roast the acorn squash that I receive in my CSA box. It’s a gold-standard crowd-pleaser. 🙂

After making and absolutely loving both a classic and a summer version of chicken saltimbocca, I was excited to try this unique acorn squash version. Unlike the chicken versions, the squash is roasted instead of fried. After roasting, the skin was tender and completely edible. The browned butter sauce made it amazing- especially because it incorporated sherry vinegar.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ann Taylor Pittman. I reduced the amount of browned butter (and there was plenty!). I served it with roasted CSA beets, kohlrabi and potatoes along with a green salad. It was a sweet and buttery CSA feast.

I served it as a main dish but it could also be served as a seasonal side.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a main dish

Chicken Saltimbocca with Crunchy Pea Salad

I have several weeknight chicken dishes to share. I’m starting with this classic Italian dish.

This is a home-cooked version of an incredible restaurant dish, substituting chicken for veal. Saltimbocca translates to “jumps in your mouth,” the perfect description for this amazingly flavorful prosciutto and sage wrapped meat.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Aaron Crowder, Katie Jackson, and Nick Perkins. I substituted chicken thighs for chicken breasts and used a combination of parsley and cilantro instead of fresh mint. We ate it with sautéed broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes. The chicken was crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 2 (8oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 4 to 8 thin slices prosciutto (enough to wrap the chicken)
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 scallions, very thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 8 oz sugar snap peas, strings removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley, cilantro, and/or mint leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • flaky sea salt
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  1. If using chicken thighs, place a thigh on a cutting board between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound as thin as possible without tearing the meat, about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining thighs. (If using chicken breasts, place a chicken breast on a cutting board. Holding a knife parallel to board and working along a long side, cut through center of breast until you are ½” from the other side. Open like a book and place butterflied breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound as thin as possible without tearing meat—about 1/4″ thick and 8″ wide is ideal. Repeat with remaining breast.)
  2. Place eggs, panko, and flour in separate shallow bowls (cake pans or pie plates work great).
  3. Season meat lightly with kosher salt.
  4. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, press 2 sage leaves onto both sides of meat.
  5. Wrap 2 pieces of prosciutto around each cutlet to make a belt that holds in the sage. (I used about 2 1/2 pieces per thigh.)
  6. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess.
  7. Dip in eggs, letting excess drip back into bowl.
  8. Coat in panko, pressing lightly to help it adhere, then shaking off excess.
  9. Place cutlets on a rimmed baking sheet.
  10. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high until very hot (an instant-read thermometer should register 350°–375°).
  11. Carefully lower 1 breast along the side of the skillet closest to you and let it slide into oil so it’s lying flat. (I cooked 2 thighs at a time.) Swirl oil in skillet carefully so that cutlet is submerged and cook just until bottom side is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  12. Using tongs, carefully turn and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; season with kosher salt. Let sit 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining meat.
  13. Toss scallions, peas, herbs, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt.
  14. Arrange chicken on a platter and top with pea salad. Sprinkle with sea salt; serve with lemons.

One-Pot Baked Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

So, this dish uses broccoli rabe instead of broccoli- but I’m still including it in my “series.” 🙂 This is a skillet version of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes. It was delightfully cheesy too.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I used large garlic cloves and decreased the broiling time to 2 minutes. We ate it with a large green salad. Absolutely delicious!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • coarse salt
  • 12 ounces Fontina and/or aged cheddar cheese (about 4 1/2 cups), divided
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large sprigs sage
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound ridged medium pasta shells, or large tube pasta, such as lumaconi or rigatoni
  1. Place racks in center and upper third of oven; preheat to 325, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, for the pasta. Salt generously.
  3. Grate the Fontina cheese on the large holds of a box grater (you should have about 4½ cups).
  4. Smash the garlic cloves, peel, and coarsely chop.
  5. Pick all sage leaves from stems and set aside about 10. Finely chop remaining leaves (you should have about 1 tablespoon).
  6. Trim tough dried ends from the broccoli rabe, then cut stems into 2″ pieces. Leave leafy ends long.
  7. Heat a deep, large, ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Add ¼ cup oil and swirl to coat.
  8. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet. Break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until sausage is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir a couple of times and continue to cook, undisturbed again, until sausage is fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
  9. Add garlic, chopped sage, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes.
  10. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until sauce is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  11. Gradually add about two-thirds of cheese, bit by bit, stirring constantly and letting cheese melt completely before adding more, until sauce is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes; season with salt and remove from heat.
  12. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water 2 minutes shy of package instructions (8–10 minutes depending on type).
  13. During the last 2 minutes, add all of broccoli rabe to pot with pasta. Drain in a colander and shake several times to remove excess water. Return pasta and broccoli rabe to empty pasta pot.
  14. Add cheesy sausage mixture from skillet to pot with pasta. Stir until pasta and broccoli rabe are coated in sauce, then transfer everything back to skillet.
  15. Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake on center rack until pasta is tender and sauce is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Let rest a few minutes while you heat broiler.
  16. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese.
  17. Toss sage leaves with remaining 1 T oil in a small bowl and arrange over pasta.
  18. Broil until cheese is browned and bubbling in spots, about 2 to 5 minutes (depending on strength of broiler).
  19. Let pasta cool a minute or two before serving.
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Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic & Chilies

It’s been a while. :/ Belated Happy New Year! 🙂 Although I haven’t been posting, I have been cooking, of course.

It has been absolutely freezing here. Freezing. My husband requests some sort of chili or stew for dinner in cold weather. Needless to say, I have a handful of wonderful new cold weather soups to share.

This vegetarian “chili” incorporated both ancho and chipotle chiles as well as roasted garlic. My favorites! 🙂 I also loved the pop of flavor from all of the fresh herbs. It was flavorful and fabulous. An added bonus was that the flavors developed over time and the soup was even better the following day.

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville. I doubled the recipe, increased the lentils and tomatoes, used whole San Marzano tomatoes, substituted fresh thyme for oregano, and increased the heat by using additional chipotle chile puree.  I also modified the technique to roast the garlic.

Yield: Serves 10

  • 1 pound of brown lentils
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 fresh oregano or thyme sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 red onions, diced, about 4 cups
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 carrots, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 small red and/or yellow bell peppers, diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 T Ancho Chile Purée (from 1 large or 2 small chiles, see below)
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Purée, (from 1 chile in adobo sauce) plus more, to taste (I added an additional 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 T chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
  1. Sort and rinse the lentils and place them in a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, sage, and oregano/thyme sprig.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the herbs.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Rub the whole garlic heads with a little olive oil, wrap them together in a packet of aluminum foil, and seal it closed. Place directly on the oven rack and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft.
  4. When the garlic has cooled, slice off the top of each head and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Purée with the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside.
  5. Make the Ancho Chile Purée: Pull the chile(s) apart at the stem end and remove the seeds. Place in a small bowl and cover with hot water, allowing to soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Place in a blender or food processor; add a small amount of the soaking liquid and process to a smooth purée, adding more liquid if needed.
  6. Make the Chipotle Chile Purée: Using a blender or food processor, purée one whole chile with additional adobo sauce until smooth. Unused purée can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. (I used a 4 quart pot.) Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, and the dried oregano; sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the carrot and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the chile purées, the puréed tomatoes and garlic, and 2 teaspoons of salt; simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Combine the beans and their broth with the vegetables, partially cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  11. Adjust heat, as desired, by adding additional ancho or chipotle purée. (I added an additional 1/2 tsp chipotle.)
  12. Sprinkle in fresh herbs (cilantro and/or oregano), as desired, just before serving.

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