Sunday, October 9, 2011

Butternut Squash-Pesto Ziti with Eggplant

I was having a friend over who didn't eat red meat and I didn't really have a chicken option handy, so I decided I'd make vegetable ziti.  I wanted to play with a way to imitate the taste of meat in the dish (since I couldn't add sausage or ground beef) because let's face it, meat is tasty.  And I found that the combination of the pesto and butternut squash and ricotta and tomato sauce and eggplant was really fantastic. And I thought I'd post it because, as usual, I couldn't find the exact recipe I was looking for online--this time I couldn't even come close.  And after wasting a bunch of time googling all of the ingredients in hopes of finding them all in one recipe, I decided, as usual, to do what I wanted and forget about finding a recipe.

Here's what I did, to anyone who's interested:

Butternut Squash-Pesto Ziti with Eggplant 
Pre-heat oven to 375 (you could do 350, I'm just always running late and push it a little higher).
Roast a butternut squash.  I must admit I don't actually know what kind of squash I used.  It was that mystery volunteer squash that appeared in my garden, but it was in a similar taste family to butternut.  I did this step beforehand.
Cook a package of ziti or penne noodles.
Make pesto:  I used olive oil, basil, kale, marjoram, cashews, almonds, parmesan cheese, salt, and garlic.
Grill thin slices of eggplant (to put on the top of the completed dish).
Take the squash out of the shell, cut it up into small pieces, and mix with the pesto and a container of ricotta.
Add a pint of tomato sauce, a quart of diced tomatoes, and an egg to the pesto/ricotta mix.
Stir in the ziti noodles.
Cover the top with mozzarella.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 (or 375 if you're in a hurry, like I was) about 45 min. to an hour.

I actually decided that the ziti noodles were better with the pesto than lasagna would be, don't know if that's true, just a feeling I had.  A very tasty treat, all told.

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