Monday, November 2, 2009

Acorn Squash Manicotti

So last week Top Chef had a vegetarian challenge. All the chefs are excited about working in a steak house, they're checking out the proteins in the walk ins, and here comes Natalie Portman announcing that she doesn't eat meat. They all end up making weird dishes that don't look very satisfying (boiled leeks? Come on!) I'm wondering why hardly anyone makes anything that resembles a main course. Is a squash manicotti too safe? Oh well, I like being safe.Clean, seed, and oil an acorn squash. Roast at 350 for about 30 minutes. Peel skin, and transfer the squash flesh to a plate to cool.

Start the bechamel. Over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter with a couple of cloves of garlic and some salt and pepper. Low heat. Just want to gently cook the garlic. Heat 2 cups of milk in a small sauce pan.

Add a couple of tablespoons of flour to the butter and cook until sandy brown.

Slowly whisk in the warm milk until all the milk is incorporated. Grate in a little nutmeg. Keep on a superlow heat, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, mix squash, a half pound of ricotta, an egg, a handful of parmigiano reggiano, some fresh sage and parsley, nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

Just mix til incorporated. Don't pulverize it. Squash chunks are nice.

Get the no boil shells out and ready to fill.

Fill a pastry bag (or a ziplock with the end cut off) with squash/cheese mixture.

Pipe mixture into shells.

Action shot!

Place shells in an oiled dish that has been coated with about a cup of the bechamel.

Cover the stuffed pasta with remaining bechamel. Top with some parmigiano reggiano. Sprinkle with more sage, parsley and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Safe? Probably. But also savory, creamy, rich and delicious.

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