Turn a fall vegetable into a great Italian meal

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There are many things I like about teaching at Kendall College. Being afforded the opportunity to pass on to a younger generation the knowledge I've acquired throughout my years in the food industry fills me with an immense sense of pride and responsibility that mere words cannot adequately describe. That I am indeed fortunate to teach at the prestigious, world renowned School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College?#34;now firmly established at its new location on Chicago's North Side?#34;further feeds that feeling.

But how could it be otherwise when I have the good fortune to work with the illustrious and diversified group of chefs that make up our culinary faculty? Each day I have the opportunity to gather with my colleagues, all of whom willingly share their vast store of knowledge and experience.

It pleases me now to share with you this great Italian recipe for butternut squash that was given to me by my good friend Peggy Ryan, chef instructor for our fine dining room at Kendall, and the former chef/owner of the celebrated Va Pensiero in Evanston.

Butternut squash is often served as a side dish. Combined with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese and stuffed into a pasta square transforms it into a dish that's mouthwatering and unforgettable.

There's a lot I like about teaching at Kendall College. One of the best things is that I'm still learning.

Here's Chef Peggy's recipe.


Butternut squash cappellacci (stuffed pasta squares)

Serves four as a first course

1 medium butternut squash
(about 2 pounds)

cup imported grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

cup butter

8 small fresh sage leaves

cup thinly shaved imported Parmesan cheese

20 to 30 4-inch-by-4-inch fresh pasta squares*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.

Bake, cut side down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet for one hour or until tender.

Scoop out flesh and mash with a potato masher.

Mix with the grated cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Place a square of pasta on a lightly floured surface.

Brush pasta lightly with water and place a well rounded teaspoon of squash filling in the center of each square.

Fold in half to make a triangle, sealing the edges well.

Seal two of the triangles' "arms" together to make a traditional cappellacci shape.

Proceed in the same manner with remaining pasta and filling.

Place finished cappellacci on a floured sheet pan.

Melt the butter over medium heat, and continue to cook until nut brown.

Strain through cheesecloth and return to a saucepan.

Add sage leaves and let them sizzle in the hot butter.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Add cappellacci and cook until tender.

Remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with a small amount of brown butter and a sprinkling of shaved Parmesan

*The thing I like best about this recipe is the following tip from Chef Peggy: Instead of rolling your own pasta dough, use egg roll wrappers, available in the produce section of the grocery store.

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