Recipe of the Week - A Two Dollar Squash


My idyllic summer retreat ends tomorrow and I head back to the city. I'm leaving behind the loons, the family of mink that dash past my deck chair and the magnificent pileated woodpecker who dines a few feet from my window. Sadly, I am also leaving behind our vegetable lady and her fall harvest.

My husband does almost all of the shopping while we are here because he must go to town daily to work while I remain at the cottage and work my way through my stack of books. He has a standing order to buy anything that the vegetable lady has on offer so I never quite know what will be on the menu until he arrives home. This week, after making his purchases he noticed a pile of squash and when asking the price she said they were all different prices. Having two dollars left in his pocket he asked for a two dollar squash. She obliged with a vegetable that was pretty much the size and shape of a bowling ball. It was yellow and had a soft, slightly pebbly skin and soft flesh and that's about all I can tell you about it. I have no idea what kind of squash it was. As I had it on the board trying to figure out a plan of attack to cut it open, my husband opined that he should have bought a one dollar squash instead. That first night I put it on the barbecue after drizzling it with olive oil, slices of garlic and salt and pepper. We agreed that it was pretty much the best squash we'd ever had. It is also pretty much the biggest squash we'd ever had and I think we will get a record five meals out of it. I served it as a side dish, as a main course pasta dish and then I made soup with it. As with last week's roasted garlic recipe, this is a suggestion, not a tested recipe. I'm not really putting down measurements, but you can figure it out. It might look complicated, but it's very easy. The only thing that takes any work time is stuffing the ravioli, but after you've done a couple it will go quickly.

Ravioli with Roasted Squash

1 squash - you can use pretty much any type except a really wet squash like spaghetti squash
handful of fresh herbs - thyme, oregano or marjoram will do
1 head roasted garlic (see last week's recipe)
olive oil
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
won ton wrappers
2-3 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp pine nuts
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
ripe pear (optional)

1. Cut squash into quarters and remove seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and fresh herbs and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to 60 minutes or until soft. Roast the head of garlic at the same time, but it won't take quite as long. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Scrape the flesh away from the skin and mash it. Discard skin. Remove garlic from skin and add to the squash.
2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add onion and cook over low heat until the onions are a deep golden colour, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the onion or it will be bitter.
3. Add the onions to the mashed squash and mix thoroughly. You can make the recipe ahead of time to this point and refrigerate for a day.
4. Place won ton wrapper on work surface and add a tsp or so of the squash in the centre of the wrapper. Using the tip of your finger run a bit of water around the edge of the wrapper and lay another wrapper on top of the filling. Press around the edges to seal the wrappers. Be careful not to overstuff the wrappers or they will burst when you cook them. Repeat until you have enough ravioli for dinner.
5. Cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling water. They won't take long, maybe 4 or 5 minutes. If you have a lot of ravioli cook it in batches and keep them warm.
6. In the meantime place pine nuts in a small pot and brown them over a low heat, shaking the pan occasionally. Watch them carefully because they burn very quickly. When they are golden brown, remove them from the heat.
7. In the same pan add butter over a medium heat. When the butter stops foaming turn it down right away and let it brown a bit. Be careful not to burn it.
8. Place ravioli in a bowl, spoon butter and pine nuts over the pasta. Add shaved Parmesan and shaved pears if you are using them. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately

If you have any squash filling left over add some vegetable stock or water to thin it out and you have a roasted squash soup.