Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Caramelized Onions

Okay… if the name of this post didn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. Butternut Squash, Ricotta Cheese, and the most perfect Caramelized Onions piled into some nice, thick toast. Oh, and there’s maple syrup. And a bit of spice, too. This is seriously the most brilliant combination of some of my favourite ingredients – completely unexpected, but so amazing. Easy enough for a weekday lunch, but fancy enough to serve guests.

IMG_0006

Out of curiosity… Are any of you guys preparing for this blizzard that is hitting the Northeastern US? I mentioned last week that it’s been an uncharacteristically warm January in Calgary, but on Saturday I was walking to go for lunch, and even I was shocked to see multiple patios full. We’re pretty used to freezing temperatures and crazy amounts of snow, but we certainly know how to take advantage of warmer weather. Anyway, stay safe, if you’re in the blizzard zone – if I were you, I would probably spend my day making soup, but these winter-y squash toasts could be a perfect choice too.

IMG_0003

Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Caramelized Onions

Adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via NYTimes Cooking

Serves 4 as a Main, 8 as an Appetizer

1 2 1/2 – 3 lb Butternut Squash (or other yellow squash), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

1/2 cup Olive Oil

1/2 tsp Dried Chile Flakes

3 tsp Kosher Salt

1 Yellow Onion, peeled & thinly sliced

1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 Maple Syrup

4 Slices Whole Wheat Country Bread, sliced 1-inch thick

1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese

Coarse Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1. Heat oven to 450. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare butternut squash, then toss in a bowl with 3 tbsp olive oil, chile flakes, and 2 tsp salt. Transfer squash to prepared baking sheet, then roast in oven until soft – about 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add vinegar and syrup and reduce heat slightly. Cook, stirring, until mixture is very soft and jammy.

3. Remove the squash from the oven, and pile the onion mixture on top of the squash, still on the baking sheet. Smash squash and onions together with the back of a fork and roughly combine.

4. Toast your bread – if it’s too thick for the toaster, put it in the oven on broil for a couple minutes.

5. Spread ricotta on toasts in a thick layer, then pile on the squash/onion mixture. Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot.

Kale, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Quiche

My dad was in town last week and I decided to bring over some supper to share with him. He is vegetarian, and I’d been meaning to make quiche for a while now. I started thinking about different vegetable combinations (the possibilities are pretty much endless!) and here is what I came up with.

IMG_3502

When I brought this over, my dad told me that quiche was “girl food,” but he quickly changed his mind after trying it, even calling my step mom to tell her what she was missing out on. What do you think? Is quiche “girl food”? I guess typically men tend to be more “meat & potatoes” types, so does that make “girl food” anything that varies from this? I’m a little curious now. Perceptions are a funny thing, friends.

IMG_3499

I really like the different textures that the squash and goat cheese bring to this, and the colours are very pretty as well. I love how easily quiche comes together, and even though this recipe has quite a few steps, especially if you make your own pie dough, it is insanely simple to make and doesn’t take too long.

IMG_3496

This is my favourite recipe for any quiche, and like I said before, there are SO MANY possibilities. I should make quiche more often.

IMG_3498

Kale, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Quiche:

Makes One Quiche 

Adapted from Oil and Blue 

1 Recipe for Pie Crust (or store-bought) *

1 Butternut Squash – peeled, seeded, quartered, and sliced cross-wise 1/4 inch thick

1 bunch Kale (I used Tuscan Kale), chopped

Olive Oil

1 small Yellow Onion, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

5 Eggs

1/2 cup 2% Milk

1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes

Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

1/2 cup Cheddar or Swiss Cheese, grated

1/3 cup Goat Cheese, crumbled

1.  Preheat oven to 425. Place the squash slices in a bowl and toss with just enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt & pepper. Spread the slices on a baking sheet and roast until tender and beginning to brown—about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven heat to 375.

2. Meanwhile, steam the kale until tender (but not soggy).

3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is very tender and beginning to caramelize (10 or 15 minutes). Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the steamed kale and stir to combine. Set aside.

4. Whisk the eggs and milk in a small bowl and then add in red pepper flakes and salt & pepper, set aside.

5. To put together the quiche, scatter half of your cheddar or swiss over the bottom of your pie crust. Then, arrange as much butternut squash as you can fit in one layer. Spread the kale/onion mixture over this. Crumble to goat cheese over all. Then, pour the egg mixture over everything. Lastly, top with the remaining cheddar or swiss.

6. Bake in preheated oven (375) for 25 to 30 minutes, until the surface is lightly golden and eggs are set. Slice and serve hot.

* I used this recipe for my pie crust, which I love. It gave me enough dough for at least 1 more pie crust, so I rolled it into a ball, wrapped it in saran wrap, and put it in the freezer to use on a rainy day (yay!) I did blind-bake the crust before putting together the quiche. See this link for instructions on that.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

IMG_2293

Halloween was a week long celebration for me, with two costumes and four halloween parties. I had so much fun dressing up, drinking wine, and seeing friends. I also started a new term of school, went to see the Dixie Chicks in concert (SO good), and visited the Edmonton Humane Society to snuggle all of the cats that I want so badly and can’t justify bringing home.

IMG_2236

(Mary Poppins & Severus Snape – bffs, naturally)

On Tuesday, I thought I would be really fancy and make Ratatouille. It involved cooking eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini for a few hours until it turns into a sort of stew. After two hours, I had some for supper, but decided to leave it on the stove for another hour or so. I had to leave the house and meant to tell my roommate to turn it off (can you tell where this is going?) Come 10 o’clock at night, I arrive home to a smoky kitchen and a pot full of charcoal. So needless to say, my post on Ratatouille was no longer. Sad story.

IMG_2284

IMG_2287

Fast forward to Sunday. Carb cravings. Half of a cooked butternut squash in the freezer. Fresh sage in the fridge. This gnocchi was a natural choice, really. I realize that the act of making gnocchi might be intimidating. If you haven’t noticed yet, I am rarely intimidated by recipes – in fact, I tend to be overly confident in my cooking skills (see Ratatouille incident…) I don’t personally think making gnocchi is very difficult. I did have the butternut squash cooked already, which saved me a step, but still. Plus, homemade gnocchi is incredibly delicious, especially when it involves butternut squash. If I haven’t convinced you yet, your hard work today will make your life super easy in the future. Gnocchi freezes well and you can pull it out on a busy weeknight and cook just like you would fresh. These sweet, pillowy babies will be your new fave.

IMG_2289

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage 

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats 

1 cup pureed Butternut Squash (the link above has instructions for roasting & pureeing the squash)

1 Egg, whisked and divided in half

1/4 tsp Salt

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 tbsp Butter

1 Garlic Clove, minced

5 leaves Fresh Sage

1. Put pureed squash, salt, and 1/2 an egg in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir together. Add 1 cup of flour, mixing well.

2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead in another cup of flour. This may not be exact – the dough will initially be very sticky, and you need to knead in flour about 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is… less sticky. This step is hard to describe, but knead it until the dough comes together and is easier to work with, but still slightly sticky. For me, this required adding 1 cup of flour.

3. Remove large pieces of dough, then roll into a rope and cut into 1 inch sections to form the gnocchi.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt lightly.

5. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add garlic and sage. Stir occasionally while you are working on the next step.

6. Add gnocchi to the boiling water, 1 cup at a time. Cook at a gentle boil until gnocchi float to the top of the pot, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the skillet with the butter, garlic, and sage. Toss to coat the gnocchi and season with fresh ground pepper.

Image

As per usual, my pictures do this recipe no justice (thank you fluorescent lighting, iphone 4, and ugly kitchen), but it was so yummy and I am beyond excited to have a bag of this gnocchi sitting in my freezer for a snowy, (busy, hungry) day.

Image