A couple weeks ago we had some friends over for a celebratory dinner. We were making a joint dinner (meaning we were each bringing a main) with the purpose of eating ‘Italian Style’. (Multiple courses over several hours)
It’s a fun way to dine with friends, especially when you have small children as it allows you to focus on the food for a bit longer than normal, while still allowing to get up and run to the other room when an inevitable scream happens, or your child is screaming that they need help putting on their umpteenth dress-up outfit.
I wanted to have a starter which we could munch on right when they arrived, that was no fuss, fairly kid-friendly, AND you could eat without a plate. I also didn’t want to break any type of budget, so it had to be made with things I had on hand.
With all of those requirements, I thought I was probably going to end up serving pickles and cheese. But I didn’t have pickles so, since Z requests we make bread pretty much everyday, and I give in only once a month (I mean really, it does need to rise, and she doesn’t actually like to make it, just eat it) I decided to give in. I had some time, this bread is a short rising bread, so…I used the fast rising bread recipe from this blog. I added some whole cloves of garlic to one loaf to go with the soup I would be serving for the first course and made the other two mini loaves plain for the kids and for the starter.
To go with this bread I made a butternut squash, onion and ricotta dip. Why? Well, I had just made some butternut squash the night before with onions which I served over pasta. I had about a half of a large container of ricotta cheese that I had used when I made stuffed shells. Voila! Instant fantabulous appetizer.
This is what you’ll need;
I cup ricotta cheese
1/4 bag of frozen butternut squash
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly in half moons
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tea salt
1/2 tea pepper
1/2 tea dried rosemary leaves
Over medium-high heat cook the oil, onion and butternut squash until squash is cooked through and hot and onions are transparent (about 8-10 minutes). Add salt, pepper and rosemary. Stir and turn off heat. Add ricotta and stir until smooth. Place in serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap until you are ready to serve. If more than 20 minutes, store in the fridge. Just before serving stir to make smooth once again.
This is delicious, fairly healthy and easy. These are flavors that Z really likes, the orange makes a nice contrast on the bread with the white ricotta, and the rosemary really shines through.