Pasta Roll with Squash, Spinach and Ricotta

Gosh, I love this weather! :) It's real indian summer with bright blue sky and almost 25°C (felt). At the end of the week we're packing our bags and heading of to Firenze in Italy. I'm really excited to see the tuscan landscape and enjoying some nice vino with traditional italian food... and maybe some gelato, too... ha!

For this occsasion I'm sharing today a recipe I tried just yesterday. It's a pasta roll filled with butternut squash, ricotta and spinach. The roasted squash is really good and I ate it today on it's own - yum! It's a little on the time-consuming side but give it a try, it's really worth it.

Pastar Roll Filled with Squash, Spinach & Ricotta  
serves 4 - adapted from Jamie Oliver - Jamie's Italian

1 recipe fresh pasta dough (see recipe below)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and deseeded - cut into big cubes
800g spinach, fresh or frozen
150g Ricotta
250g butter
50g freshly grated parmesan
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried majoram
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 dried red chilli (I used a whole one, I like it pretty hot)
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
20 fresh sage leaves
olive oil
salt & pepper

After preparing the dough heat up your oven to 220°C (430°F). To make the seasoning for the squash, grind the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, the dried chili with some coarse sea salt and black pepper in a mortar or food processor. Place the squash cubes in a ovenproof baking dish and give it a rub with some olive oil and the prepared seasoning. Cover with some moistened parchment paper and bake in the oven around 30 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes until golden. Meanwhile heat up a pot over medium heat and add the olive oil, garlic, majoram and oregano. When the spices are sizzeling heat up to high heat and add the spinach. Cook until no liquid remains. Season with the nutmeg, salt, pepper and add 1-2 tbsp of butter. Set aside and let cool down a little.

Take your prepared dough and roll with a rolling pin into a rectangle in the size of a clean kitchen towl. Now place it carefully on a kitchen towl and turn so the longer side is facing you. Place the squash in a line on the lower rim. Sprinkle the spinach over the remaining dough, leaving a free space approx. 5cm to the upper rim. Scoop the ricotta over the spinach and sprinkle with parmesan. Brush the upper rim of the dough with water and form a roll starting with the lower side, wrapping the role in the towel and secure both ends with kitchen yarn.
Place in a large pot with boiling salted water and make sure that the whole roll is covered with water. Cook for 25 minutes.

Put the butter in a ovenproof bowl and melt in the oven at 80°C (175°F)  around 10-15 minutes. Discard the white flakes on top and spoon the clear butter into a clean bowl. Discard the white remains at the bottom of the bowl. Take 5 tbsp of the clarified butter and heat it to high heat in a small pot.  Fry the sage leaves until crisp.

Remove the pasta roll from the pot, unwrap and cut into slices. Arrange on plates, spoon over some sage butter and top with the crispy sage leaves and some more grated parmesan.

Pasta Dough

600g flour (Tipo '00' is recommended, I used 450)
6 eggs

Grab a large bowl and add flour and eggs. Whisk together with a fork, then kneed it with your hand until a silky smooth ball forms. Wrap in cling film and chill at least 30 minutes.

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Squash: A Little Guide & Recipes

Since the temperatures dropped and the trees are emblazing in autumnal colors we find us again in squash season. A warm and slightly spicy pumpkin soup with cocokut milk or Flammkuchen with thinly sliced squash, sweet apple slices and crispy bacon are common guests on our table this time of the year. Some squash varieties are available year-round, but their actual season runs from late summer until mid-winter. Winter squash are fabulous storage vegetables, the sweet orange flesh protected from a thick skin. Most people think of jack-o-lanterns when it comes to pumpkins / squash, not knowing that there are many kinds of squash coming in different shapes and flavors. This little guide and recipe collection of my favourite blogs should help those who are newbies cooking with this vegetable and those who are looking for inspiration (like me).

Heirloom Pumpkins like those used for jack-o-lanterns have dry flavorless flesh. Some varieties like the Blue Hokkaido or Cinderella Pumpkin can be baked or turned into soup, but the majority are best left for carving or decoration.

Sweet Pumpkins, like Sugar-Pie or other small varieties are best filled, roasted or turned into soup or puree.

The dark green Acorn Squash has a moist, sweet tender flesh and is an all-around talent. It can be roasted, stuffed, steamed, sauteed and transformed into soup or puree.

Red Kuri Squash comes in apperance of a small pumpkin with firm flesh with a chestnut-like flavour. It's perfect for a large variete of soups, stews and casseroles. It's also good in breads, muffins or cakes. The often seen quash in germany is a subvariete of it called Hokkaido and it's very easy to prepare since the skin can be eaten as well.

The pear-shaped Butternut Squash is the sweetest winter squash and has only a few seeds and is easy to peel. With its thick and moist flesh it's best roasted since it's done quickly or turned into soup or puree.

This is a funny one: when cooked forms the Spaghetti Squashs' flesh spaghetti-like strands. It can be served like real spaghetti, with tomatoe or a creamy sauce or in a gratin or carresole.

The Turban Squash comes in a nice turban shape and comes in speckled green, yellow and orange colors. Though their apperane they're widely used for decoration, but with their floury texture they can be used for soups, too.

Warm Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad
Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons
Roasted Delicate Squash Salad
Farro & Roasted Butternut Squash
Warm Salad of Roasted Squash, Prosciutto & Pecorino

Savory Tarts & Other Baked Goods
Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onions Galette
Simple Butternut Squash Tart 
Hokkaido Squash & Celeriac Tart
Pumpkin Feta Tart  
Pumpkin and Feta Muffins

Stews etc
Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges
Zucca al Forno (Baked Squash)
Butternut Squash & Chickpea Stew with Israeli Couscous
Gratin of Red Kuri Squash
Squash Casserole
Spicy Roasted Squash

Pasta & Risotto
Baked Spaghetti Suqash with Garlic & Butter
Squash, Bacon & Goat Cheese Pasta with Basil
Squash, Chorizo & Hazelnut Pasta
Pumpkin Angolotti
Pumpkin Ravioli
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage
Chorizo Arugula Pumpkin Sauce for Pasta
Pumpkin Risotto
Roast Squash Risotto with Sage, Chestnut & Pancetta

Acorn Squash Soup with Brown Butter & Maple Yoghurt
Curried Pumpkin Soup
Squash & Fennel Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Buttermilk Squash Soup
Roasted Pumpkin & Majoram Soup
Party Squash Soup

And for the sweet tooth...
Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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