Live Real. Eat Real.

Squash and Ricotta Casserole

Last night I made a meatloaf out of a combination of ground pork and ground venison, wrapped in bacon and brushed with barbecue sauce.

Yes, it was as good as it sounds.

We also had steamed broccoli (which The Young One buried in cheese – but hey, at least he ate it) and this dish, which I just sort of pulled out of my…refrigerator.

Beloved and I had gone on a cheese shopping spree at a large, natural foods store in Akron last weekend, looking primarily for sheep’s milk cheese.  I’ve come to love the stuff, and since I tolerate it reasonably well I keep some on hand most of the time (sheep’s milk gouda?  To die for).  One of the varieties we brought home was a small hunk of sheep’s milk ricotta salata – ricotta cheese that’s been pressed, salted and dried.  Because it’s much firmer and drier than fresh ricotta, it can be sliced, shredded, grated or crumbled and it has an amazingly smooth, creamy taste and texture – I just love it.

Again this year, we have a ton of winter squash.  We’re keeping it in the basement as opposed to the garage; I just love that I can run downstairs, grab one of many varieties and figure out to do with it.  At first, I thought perhaps a custard or savory pudding, but decided not to go to all the trouble.  Then I considered a souffle, but I’ve already posted two winter squash souffles.  Mashed squash is kind of boring (albeit delicious).  So I decided to do a casserole-type preparation, and it was delicious.  Creamy and savory with just a hint of sweetness from the squash, even The Young One ate a few bites and Beloved inhaled it.

I used a butternut squash for this dish, but you could use just about any winter squash and it would be fine – acorn, sweet dumpling and kabocha would be good choices.  And if you can’t find ricotta salata, 1/2 cup of fresh ricotta would probably work really well, too.  If you roast the squash in advance, this dish will come together quickly and easily.

Squash and Ricotta Casserole

Squash and Ricotta Casserole

serves 6

2 1/2 pounds winter squash
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup coconut milk mixed with 1/4 cup water OR 1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
2 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a 2 quart soufflé or casserole dish.

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush lightly with olive oil and place cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Once cooled, scoop the flesh of the squash into a large bowl; add the egg, coconut milk or half and half, bacon fat or butter and ricotta salata. Mix together well; taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour into the prepared soufflé or casserole and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until set and lightly browned on top.

Nutrition (per serving): 146 calories, 8.4g total fat, 39.9mg cholesterol, 33.5mg sodium, 471.6mg potassium, 16.5g carbohydrates, 4.8g fiber, 3g sugar, 3.7g protein.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)


18 comments

Ooooh! This looks and sounds SO good! And I’m not even a squash fan…but this just might convert me! ;)

Jan says:

Oh, you should try it! You might become a squash lover like me. ;)

Lori says:

Yum! Made something similar to this recently and we loved it so I’m sure we would love this too. Made meatloaf too but it wasn’t wrapped in bacon…I am so doing that next time and I will certainly win lots of points with little man and the big man. :)

Jan says:

Meatloaf wrapped in bacon WILL score you points with the males in your household, trust me!

Linda says:

I have about 3 butternut and 3 acorns in my basement- I will have to try this! Did you get the ricotta salata at Earth Fare? I did not get a call from your turkey friend so I ordered an Organic pastured turkey from earth Fare for 2.50 a pound- minus $1.00 per pound coupon. Looking forward to that on Thanksgiving!!!

Jan says:

Yup, got it at Earth Fare. We tend to shop at Mustard Seed for our “regular” stuff (they’re just cheaper), but Earth Fare has a great cheese selection.

I’m sorry about the turkey – he may have been waiting to see if he had any available to sell (or may not have had any available). But that’s a pretty good price for a pastured turkey – how will you and J cook it?

MamaBadger says:

Why hello, something to do with all that squash in the basement. I think this will go well with some left over ham tomorrow. Finally, a recipe with cheese!

Jan says:

LOL – I know, I know; I’ve been pretty cheeseless lately. Sorry about that, but I just can’t eat it these days. I hope you try this; I’d love to hear what you think. We really enjoyed it.

Be says:

nom nom nom! BTW I think I have decided that venison in our meatloaf is the only way to go. I better take up hunting!

Jan says:

Oh, THAT I’d love to see. :P

chuck says:

Wow, this is so easy. Cannot wait to try this one.

@BE
hunting is a great way to source quality meat and get out in nature while getting some exercise. you will also get a much greater appreciation for what it really takes to source quality meat. when you take the animal, gut it, drag it out of the woods, process it and bring it home you start to realize that $5/lb. for 100% grass fed beef isn’t so outrageous.

Be says:

While I can fire guns and was once quite effective with a bow and arrow, I’ve never been much of a hunter. I would like tolearn and learn how to field dress animals just so we could eat wild game. But, I am sure you are right about the value of my abattoir. I would definitely butcher the butchering! BTW, Whitefeather Meats is having an early bird sales Saturday – 25% off meat! But you have to be there between 6am and 8am (I think sleeping in is worth more than that).

chuck says:

really. is it just this saturday? i just got done telling my wife our beef reserves are dwindling and am glad hunting season is soon upon us. wish whitefeather was a bit closer.

chuck says:

went to whitefeather this morning and was surprised at the number of people there at 6 am. simply amazing. many great deals to be had. what a great group of people.

Be says:

I’m so glad you got to go. Now I AM disappointed I didn’t drag Jan out of bed early to join you, but sleeping in was nice But yeah, 25% off? What a deal!

Aren’t they just the nicest people? I love doing business with them. In fact we probably need to go pay for a pig they cut this week.

Sooner or later we need to get together!

Oh wow–this sounds great! I might just have to bring this to Thanksgiving dinner this year!

I agree with all above – it sounds really delicious. Though I don’t think there is a hope in hell that I will find ricotta. salata this side of the Harrods Food Hall. I spent the first 15 years I was here looking in vain for ordinary ricotta…

Sounds SOOOO good. Can you fed-ex me leftovers? Would they arrive in the next hour so I could have them for dinner?

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