You are in the mood for comfort foods, passionately and creatively constructed for sharing with a house full of good friends, over a special glass of wine or two, with plenty of amusing stories, many marvelous memories and a full measure of laughter. What could be better on a long cold night? Leave Mother Nature at the door, and settle in for a tasting treat, purely vegetarian.
Get ready in the kitchen for some amazing and relatively easy creations this season. You will please the crowd with these two recipes. Oven Roasted Winter Squash, Spinach and Three Cheese Crepes, and Oven Roasted Savory Winter Squash Soup. Any variety of squash will work with these recipes, with various flavours and textures, depending on the variety of course.
Winter squash is such a versatile veggie, that I never cease to discover new and exciting things to do with them. A real staple storage crop that promises to sustain the heart and soul throughout much of our winter season.
OVEN ROASTED WINTER SQUASH, SPINACH AND THREE CHEESE CREPES
Hazelnuts add crunch to the soft, rich filling in this vegetarian entrée – guaranteed to please cheese lovers, too.
8 – 6 inch round fresh crepes
Basic Savory Crepe Recipe
- 1 cup white spelt flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened rice milk (almond milk, or soymilk or regular milk)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp melted butter
Sift the spelt flour through a fine colander into a medium bowl. Add eggs to the spelt flour and whisk together.
Gradually add milk of choice and water and whisk until smooth. Add salt and melted butter and give it a final whisk.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once you can feel the warmth by placing your hand over the pan, spray on a thin layer of olive oil. Add 1/4 cup of batter to the pan. Immediately move the pan around, tilting it in a circular motion, to get a thin layer off batter all over the pan.
Cook the crêpe about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, it is done when the bottom has browned. Flip using a rubber spatula to get under the edge and heat the other side through about 30 seconds. Pile finished crepes on a plate so that they’re ready for filling.
- 1 butternut squash
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 onion, cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
- 1 bunch spinach, trimmed
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
Peel and cube squash to make about 4 cups and place in roasting pan. Add garlic, onion, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; roast in 425°F oven until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool.
In food processor, purée together squash mixture, ricotta, Parmesan cheese and sage. Stir in hazelnuts. Rinse spinach. Shake off excess water. In large saucepan, cook spinach, with just the water clinging to leaves, over medium-high heat until just wilted, about 3 minutes; drain in colander. Let cool; squeeze out liquid and chop spinach in rough bite sized pieces. Fold spinach into Squash mixture. Set aside. (This step can be made ahead of time)
White Cheese Sauce:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp spelt flour
- 2-1/4 cups rice milk or regular milk,
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) shredded white old cheese
In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly add milk; bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking often, until bubbly and thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 cups of the cheese until smooth.
Spread 1 cup of sauce in 13- x 9-inch glass baking dish. Set aside. (this sauce can be made ahead of time if need be)
Spread scant 3 – 5 tbsp squash and spinach filling in the centre of a crêpe and roll it up, leaving the ends open or tucked under is totally your choice. Place crepes snugly, seam side down, in dish with the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with the remaining white cheese.
Bake on rimmed baking sheet in 375°F oven for 2o minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly and cheese is lightly browned, about 15 -20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve along side a bed of fresh baby greens with a light vinaigrette dressing, and a huge glass of your choice Red or White.
This dish can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours. Crepes may be substituted with lasagna noodles and baked for 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Here is something quick and relatively easy to whip up on a cold damp day when all you want is to warm up the kitchen with some heartwarming memories-of-home and aromas of satisfying and soothing comfort foods.
OVEN ROASTED SAVORY WINTER SQUASH SOUP
- 1 or 2 Winter Squash such as Acorn, Blue Kuri, Hokkaido, Butternut, Hubbard peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 large Onions, chopped fine
- 6 cloves of Garlic
- 3 tablespoons Curry Powder or Cinnamon or Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly Ground Pepper
- 6 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 8 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth
- Sour Cream for topping if desired
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss butternut squash, onions, garlic, spice of choice, salt, and pepper with vegetable oil to coat. Divide between 2 roasting pans or one large cookie sheet and roast until browned, 45 minutes.
Using a blender, puree batches of roasted squash with vegetable broth.
Transfer to a large pot and heat. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.