06 April 2010

Pumpkin, Pasta, Magic

There are so many amazing recipes to choose from, and I'm still having a hard time narrowing down each day's adventure. So I went through my pantry, and picked an ingredient to run with. Pumpkin won... and so Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping began!

Once again, I was lucky enough to have Stacy's help. That girl is a superstar in the kitchen, and it gives us something to do together while we're catching up on our dish. She started on the caramelized onions, which turned out 100 times better than my last batch. I'm attributing that to the giant cast iron pan. (Thanks for the hand me down, Mom.)

Caramelizing the onions take a lot of patience, but the browning of the natural sugars brings out a sweeter flavor, and is definitely worth the effort. Especially for dishes like this that combine sweet & savory flavors! (Plus they look pretty!)

While the onions were cooking, I whipped up the Cashew Ricotta. This was another first-time for me, and I'm now a believer. You really CAN make tofu and raw cashews taste like real, dairy ricotta. I almost hated to blend it into the recipe, and can't wait to use it on something else. (White pizza? Stuffed shells?)

Then everything was blended together and baked until perfection. The sweet nutmeg and pumpkin with the spicy cayenne and rich ricotta was amazing. Topped off with the sage and walnut bread crumbs, the depth of flavor and texture was a success. I want to experiment with even more pumpkin next round, especially for the sake of leftovers. Leftovers are one of my favorite things about cooking, and if I ever make a cookbook, I'm going to rate the leftover potential for each recipe. (In this case, the pasta absorbed all the flavor and moisture, so it wasn't half as good the day after.)

Everything is still ridiculously slow with my busted arm, but I'm trying my best. And this meal was good 'til the last bite!

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