Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recipe: Squash and Ricotta Stuffed Shells Baked in Mornay Sauce

Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart. – Thomas Fuller

Four shells per serving is a good sized meal.
So this meal, believe it or not, was made to to use up leftovers. We had baked squash and potatoes to accompany Tuscan Turkey Thighs last night. That meal signalled (almost) the end of the dastardly 12.5 lb bird I purchased earlier in the week.

I also had some leftover homemade cheese from my last foray into the world of ricotta. So I was all set to go.There must be something that can be made from squash and ricotta...

It is important to ensure you use up any leftovers from meals. Food just costs too much now to let it go to waste. That doesn’t mean your second meal has to be boring.

This is the filling. Brightly coloured, isn't it?
With a little creativity you can turn the plebeian to posh; the ordinary to extraordinary; the pernicious to delicious. Seriously. All it takes is the use of a good search engine, some bravery and your computer.

I have made this before as a filling for manicotti, but just to check quantities I consulted the sages at Google. It gave me enough of a refresher to proceed with confidence. 

Whatever you have hanging around in your ‘fridge, you can add just enough “new” to it to either stretch it into a meal for your family, or change it enough you can’t recognize it, or both!

This is an example of the last. Believe it or not, we even have leftovers of the leftovers now.

Recipe: Squash and Ricotta Stuffed Shells Baked in Mornay Sauce
Prep: 20 min  |  Bake 45 min  |  Serves 4

These are some of the 16 filled shells.
12 large pasta shells, cooked
2 cups roasted squash (leftovers work well)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1 egg
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sage

Mornay Sauce
(Mornay is a variation of béchamel, which is one of the French "mother" sauces I posted about previously.)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Boil the pasta shells to the minimum amount of time recommended.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Baked in the Mornay sauce until golden and bubbly.
Mix together the roasted squash, ricotta and walnuts. Add the egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sage. Mix well. Take a large spoon and fill each of the 16 shells with the squash mixture. Place each one in a 9”x13” baking dish.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk in well. Let cook for about 2 minutes. Do not allow to start to turn brown. Slowly add in the milk, whisking to ensure no lumps form. Let cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out the taste of the flour.

Reduce the heat and add the chicken stock and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella. Stir well to mix.

Pour the Mornay sauce around the shells in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and the parmesan. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Serve with a salad* and some garlic bread.

*The salad accompanying this meal was tomato, cucumber, red onion and lettuce. The salad dressing was Catalina, which was posted last Saturday.


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