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Last week I told you I’d have another fabulous recipe for you to use up any left-over winter squash you have from this dish.  Here it is, and it’s a remarkable Squash Ravioli, which also happens to be one of my favorite meals.  I’ve always felt that homemade pasta is the perfect comfort food– and pairing it with squash and browned butter with sage makes for a sublime Autumn dinner.

Browned butter and sage sauce is so simple to make, yet the incredible flavor will really stay with you.  I crave this sauce for weeks after we make this dish– you will too.  Seriously, it’s that good.  It perfectly compliments the sweetness of the squash, the creamy ricotta cheese, and the hint of freshly-grated nutmeg– all of which make up the filling.  The walnuts add texture to counter the pillow-soft ravioli.  And topping almost anything with Parmesan cheese makes it a little bit better.  Serve the ravioli with the crispy sage leaves (if you can keep yourself from eating them before dinner).

Now I know making homemade pasta may not be on your agenda.  Here’s the thing, though– fresh pasta really is that much better than the dried varieties you see at the market.  There’s no comparison.  And as I’ve said before, if you make it a family project you’ll enjoy the process, rather than thinking of it as just preparation.  As for the equipment, while it’s certainly easier to use a food processor and pasta roller, all you really need are strong arms, a sturdy wooden spoon, and a rolling pin.  Hey, it’s exercise, right?  Give it a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how satisfying it is to make your own pasta.  And even more satisfying when you get to fill it with amazing ingredients like this.

The Recipe:  Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter and Sage

The Pasta Dough:

(Makes 1 pound of dough)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 large whole eggs

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons water

1 egg (reserved for ravioli wash)

The Squash Filling:

1 1/2 cups squash puree

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

Browned Butter and Sage Sauce:

1 stick unsalted butter

6 sage leaves

2/3 cup water

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

To make the pasta dough:  Mix 2 eggs and olive oil into a measuring cup.  Add 3 tablespoons water (or however much needed to reach 7 fluid ounces).  Put the flour into a food processor fitted with a regular blade and pulse a couple of times to aerate (there will not be enough dough to successfully use the dough blade).  Start running the machine and pour the egg mixture down the feed tube, carefully getting every drop in there.  A dough ball should form quickly.  Do not process for more that 40 seconds total.  Turn machine off and turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead by hand for  a half minute, or until it’s smooth.  Form it into a ball and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rest at room temperature for at least a half hour.   Store in the refrigerator for a day, or freeze for a month or more.  Defrost in the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature before rolling.

To bake the squash: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place a quartered, seeded squash on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Cover with foil and bake until soft and tender, 35-45 minutes.  Let cool.  Scoop out flesh into food processor.  Add a bit of water if necessary and puree until smooth.  Cool.

To make the filling:  Add the squash, ricotta cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to a bowl.  Mix and set aside.  There may be some leftover filling.  Refrigerate and enjoy by the spoonfuls the next day.

To form the ravioli:  Quarter the dough ball.  Use a pasta machine or roll each section by hand.  Making sure to flour your work surface well.  The goal is to get the dough very thin and long.  Once you achieve this, straighten up the sides, if necessary and cover.  Repeat with another quarter of the dough.  You’ll want to get two matching sections.  Make the ravioli however big you like.  Using a pastry brush, apply an egg wash (beaten egg) along the edges of each ravioli.  Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each section and top with the other section of dough.  Press the dough together along the egg wash– this will seal the filling inside.  Use a pasta cutter to cut the ravioli into sections.  Or use a knife and press down with fork tines to seal.

To make the browned butter and sage sauce:  In a medium-sized sauce pan, place a stick of butter and the sage leaves.  Begin to brown the butter until it’s fragrant and has a nice caramel color.  Stir frequently.  Add 2/3 cup of pasta water and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place the ravioli in a large pot of salted, boiling water.  You will want to work in batches.  Place three ravioli (depending upon the size of your pot) into the water.  Cook for about three minutes.  The dough will shrink and tightly enclose the mound of filling when done.   Remove from water and repeat with remaining ravioli.  Toss the cooked ravioli into the brown butter and sage sauce immediately, so they don’t stick together.  When serving, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and the toasted walnuts.  Enjoy!

Source:  Pasta and Sauce adapted from Lidia Bastiancich’s Lidia’s Family Table

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a great day.

Laurie

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Every once in a while I try a recipe that turns out so much better than I anticipated.  It usually ends up being a recipe that I crave days, weeks, or even months after I make the dish.  This is one of those meals, and it stunned me.  Sure, I expected it to be tasty, but to be honest I was more focused on the health benefits when I decided to make these cakes.  I didn’t expect the flavors to be so vibrant, the taste so fresh. And I had no idea that my family would love them as much as I did.

I was drawn to this recipe the moment I read it.  It is loaded with healthy ingredients that I generally keep on hand, contains Indian spices, and it’s in a tiny cake-form.  That’s right, I’m not above making a dish because I like little cakes.  Hey, they’re fun.  Another nice aspect to this dish is that is works as both a side accompaniment to a larger meal, or as the centerpiece with a salad or fruit.  Or how about this?  Stuff a couple of the cakes into pita bread along with some fresh vegetables like cucumber, tomato, and red onion.  Top with the sauce and it’s a perfect lunch to take to work, the park, or wherever you like.

The extra cakes from the recipe keep very well and heat up easily  without loosing any their wonderful texture.  It really is a nice meal to make at the beginning of the week that you can come back to over several days.  Just a note, you can roast a head of garlic for the raita (sauce).  I decided to use fresh garlic in the sauce, and it was incredible.  I substituted 2 cloves instead of the whole head, as fresh garlic is much more pungent.  Also, the roasted garlic need not be mixed into the raita, but can be served on the side.

The Recipe: Indian – Spiced Lentil Cakes with Raita

(2-4 servings)

Raita

1 -2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (substitute ground, if necessary)

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon seeded jalapeno

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or more)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lentil Cakes

1/2 cup mix dried legumes (lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, green or yellow split peas all work well)

1/4 cup brown basmati rice

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1/2  jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 cup leaves from pea tendrils, arugula, or spinach, chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped scallions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

To prepare the Raita: Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.  Let cool.  Pulverize with a mortar and pestle or finely crush with a sharp knife.  Mix the yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, cumin, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

To prepare the lentil cakes:  Rinse legumes; place in a medium bowl with rice and cover with 3-inches of water.  Let mixture sit at room temperature for 3-5 hours.  Drain mixture and transfer to a food processor.  Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeno.  Process until grainy paste forms (add 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary).  Transfer to a large bowl; mix in your choice of chopped greens, peas, cilantro, scallions, mint, salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.   Fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup almost full and gently compress it.  Tap mixture out onto your hands, careful to keep it’s shape and gently place into the hot skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and saute until golden brown and cooked through, add 1 more tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and flip.  Cook about 4-5 minutes per side, of whenever they are your desired color and doneness.  Repeat with remaining oil and mixture.   Top with raita — enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from the September 2011 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine

Have a great day!

Laurie

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Ah, the evening chill of Fall.  It turns the switch in my brain from wanting the cool, crisp vegetables that I’ve been eating all summer to warm, comforting dishes.  Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye to those fabulous cucumbers for the next several months, but I’m ready to slowly warm my house and enjoy the lingering smell of roasted vegetables.  I’m ready to have Radd come home from work, open the front door, and see him smile when he notices those beautiful aromas.  There is something therapeutic about it.  I get so excited to share this style of warm, homecooked meal with my family.

You already know that (aside from sweets) vegetables are really all I need.  While I love those raw fresh and crisp summer specimens, roasting imparts– or perhaps emphasizes– other flavors entirely.  They develop a bit of a personality and a little more character.  They are both sweeter and more complex.  This recipe really showcases what I’m talking about.

The vegetables are prepared in a large baking dish where they slowly caramelize in the oven.  They take on those fantastic roasted notes, and become oh-so tender.  But there’s more.  This meal has another layer of flavor due to a superb caper vinaigrette.  To be honest, I was a little hesitant to add the dressing at first.  Capers– though I love them– can really overpower a dish.  Adding their salty, briny character struck me a bit odd.  Much to my surprise, the result was brilliant.  The maple syrup accentuates the sweetness of the vegetables.  The Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and olive oil meld to create a beautiful canvas for the punch of those potent little capers.  Rather than compete to overpower your taste buds, the flavors end up nicely balanced, each taking its turn.  They complement each other perfectly, and once you taste these vegetables, you won’t roast them any other way.

For the vegetables, most any combination of your favorite root variety will work here.  Some will need longer roasting times, so adjust accordingly.  When choosing parsnips, try to choose medium sized ones.  If you can only find large ones, just make sure to quarter them and cut away the woody center.  This dish would be wonderful paired with a roasted chicken or a braised pork shoulder.  Or make them on their own.  Just be sure to share.  Enjoy!

The Recipe:  Roasted Vegetables with Caper Vinaigrette

(Serves 4)

4 medium parsnips

4 medium red onions

2 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled

2 -3 medium purple carrots (regular can be substituted)

2/3 cup olive oil, divided

4 thyme sprigs (about 1 teaspoon dried can be substituted)

2 rosemary sprigs (about 1 teaspoon dried can be substituted)

1 head garlic, halved horizontally

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons small capers

1/2 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Peel the parsnips.  Cut the carrots and parsnips into halves and then into 2-3-inch segments.  Peels the onions and cut each into 6 wedges.

Place the parsnips, carrots, and onions on a roasting pan and toss with 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the rosemary, thyme, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Spread out evenly and roast for 20 minutes.

Prepare the sweet potatoes by cutting their ends off.  Then cut them into halves. Then each half into six wedges.  Add the potatoes to the dish of vegetables, toss, and return to the oven for a further 40 minutes, or so.

When the vegetables are cooked through and have taken on a golden color, toss in the tomatoes and roast for another 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, capers,  1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Pour the dressing over the roasted vegetables as soon as they are removed from the oven.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty Cookbook

For more healthy fare inspiration, take a look at these other ideas via womenshealthmag.com   —  Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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It’s finally apple season!  Both my children and I have done our best to make a dent in the local apple harvest over the last couple of weeks by chomping on several a day.  Minnesota’s own Honeycrisp has become our household favorite, though we’ve eaten more than our fair share of Zestars, Cortlands, and Sweet Tangos.  There are so many beautiful varieties available right now– both sweet and tart.  For me, apple season arrives just in time.  Aside from getting to take the kids out to the apple orchard for a nice Saturday event, it’s the signal that cool, crisp Autumn days are finally here.  And, to be honest, it shows up just when I think I can’t possibly eat another berry.  That’s one of the things I love about eating seasonally– just when I start to tire of one type of produce, another one comes along to freshen things up.

What you’re looking at is one of my favorites little treats– apple and white cheddar scones.  Think about that for a minute– apples and cheese.  Sweet and savory complimenting one another perfectly!  My taste buds have been craving these scones every morning, but my jeans remind me that it maybe isn’t such a good idea.  Moderation, right?   These scones are nicely tender on the inside.  While the firm, crusty exterior really gets that whole contrasting-textures thing right.  Each bite starts with a nice crunch, followed by a perfect, melt-in-your-mouth center.

I like to use a nice tart apple variety for these scones.  The recipe calls for white cheddar, though I’ve made them with regular cheddar and they’ve been just as tasty.   Another convenient thing about this recipe is that it makes a fairly small batch– just six scones.  Your jeans will be thankful for that.  You’ll want to eat these scones soon after they come out of the oven.  However, if you are unable to eat them all on the day they were made (this WILL NOT be a problem), just leave them out uncovered.  They will retain a bit more of their crunchiness that way.

The Recipe:  Apple and White Cheddar Scones

(Makes 6)

2 firm tart apples (about 1 pound, 454 grams), peeled, cored, and cut into sixteenths

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (195 grams)

1/4 cup  granulated sugar (52 grams)

1/2 tablespoon baking powder (7.35 grams)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1 gram), plus extra for egg wash

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (85 grams) chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup sharp white cheddar cheese (65 grams), shredded

1/4 cup heavy cream (57 grams)

2 large eggs (96 grams), at room temperature

2 teaspoons raw cane sugar  (this adds a nice crunch, substitute granulated sugar if you don’t have any)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position rack to center of the oven.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the cut apples  in a single layer onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until they develop a little color and are dry to the touch.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Place the chilled butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the apples, cheese, cream, and one of the eggs.  Add the flour mixture on top of everything and mix on low until the dough just comes together.  Do not overmix.

Liberally flour a work surface and place the dough on it.  Put a little flour onto your hands and gently flatten the dough into a 6-inch circle.  Make sure the dough is even throughout, so that it bakes evenly.  Cut the circle into 6 wedges and transfer them to a lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt.  Brush the egg wash onto each scone and sprinkle with the raw sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until they are firm and very golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Bill Yoses and Melissa Clarks’s The Perfect Finish Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by today!

Laurie

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I don’t believe I’ve mentioned my love affair with farmers’ markets here in previous articles.  The entertaining Mill City Farmers’ Market (for delicious vendor fare and people watching) and the amazing St. Paul Farmers’ Market (for fresh produce and locally-sourced meat and eggs) are my happy places.  I absolutely love being surrounded by all of that fresh, healthy, vibrant produce, as well as visiting with the local farmers about their offerings.  Our family’s weekend adventures almost always start with a trip to the market.  I’m glad it’s a tradition that my kids will carry with them, even if at their ages, they have to be bribed with the promise of kettle corn.

This dish is an example of how I try to incorporate my farmers’ market purchases into what we eat a few nights of the week during Summer.  I’m a grain enthusiast, so I chose wheat berries for this salad.  Wheat berries are the entire delicious wheat kernels with the hulls removed.  They are firm, chewy, and “toothsome”, and really add heft here.  You can soak them over night and boil them the next day for softening, or just boil them longer when you are ready to make your dish.  Fresh, garden-grown spinach is abundant right now and pairs beautifully with the wheat berries.  Throw a bunch crunchy radishes and a few onions on and you’re almost set.

Two additional ingredients really make this salad work:  the dressing– with the sublime combination of lemon and shallots– and ricotta salata cheese.  This is my favorite cheese for summer salads, as it’s creamy and subtle with just the right amount of saltiness.  You can substitute feta, though use the ricotta salata if you can find it.  Both the dressing and the cheese balance the hearty texture and flavor of the grains, and really brighten up this salad.

The Recipe:  Spinach and Wheat Berry Salad with Lemon/Shallot Vinaigrette

1 cup red winter wheat berries

2 cups (or more) fresh garden spinach, torn

5-6 radishes, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

To make the wheat berries: soak in refrigerator overnight in 3 cups of cold water.  Rinse the next day and place in saucepan filled with 3 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon salt.   Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer.  Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until wheat berries are soft and have a “chewy” feel to them.  Drain and toss with half of the vinaigrette.  The warm wheat berries will soak up all of the wonderful flavor.  Let cool before completing the salad.  (Note:  Feel free to make extra wheat berries for a later use.  They freeze well and can kept frozen for up to a month.)

Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 1/2 tablespoons of shallots, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

To make the vinaigrette:  Mince the garlic and shallot and place in a bowl.  Mix in the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt  and let soften for about 15 minutes.   After the shallots have softened,  slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Combine the spinach, radishes, spring onion and wheat berries in a bowl.  Toss with the  remaining vinaigrette and top with the crumbled cheese.   Enjoy and healthy eating to you all!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Laurie

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