Friday, May 4, 2007

Squash And Cauliflower Stuffed Mexican Hat Pasta With Mediterranean Red Pepper Sauce

I made this dish several weeks ago and had pretty much decided it wouldn't make it onto my blog. Taste-wise, there's nothing about this that's not to like. The squash, grown in my sister Cynthia's garden, and the rest of the ingredients in the stuffing are all top notch; the pasta hats so cute, hand made in Italy with all-natural vegetable colors; the red pepper sauce fresh and delicious.

So what's not to post? An error on my part caused the pasta to not cook thoroughly, resulting in tough, rubbery little stuffed hats. The taste was divine but the mouth feel and degree of difficulty in using a fork left something to be desired.
Oh well. Lesson learned: Either cook the little hats completely before stuffing (the photo above shows them cooked for the 4 minutes the package called for), which I think would make them more difficult to stuff - ever tried to stuff a floppy little pasta hat? - or, immerse them completely in the sauce while baking, which would detract from their absolute cuteness and eye appeal. Or, use a different pasta.
You can find these little cuties on-line here. Click here to see what I've done with another of their pastas. And, if you give these little hats a try, let me know if they turn out better for you than they did for me.

Squash and Cauliflower Stuffed Mexican Hat Pasta With Mediterranean Red Pepper Sauce
Christine's Original Recipe
1 package mexican hat pasta with lids
2 large heads fresh cauliflower, roasted and pureed
3 cups squash puree
1 1/4 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped, fresh basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black peppercorns
1 cup walnut pieces, buzzed in the food processor until coarsely chopped
1/2 cup egg substitute or 2 whole eggs, beaten to blend
For the cauliflower, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Break the florettes into pieces and place in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Cover the pan with foil and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil lid and continue roasting until the cauliflower is a soft, caramelized golden brown.
Puree in a food processor. You should have about 5 cups puree. Set aside.
Click here to see how to make the squash puree.
Click here to see how to prepare the red pepper sauce. You may need to make a double batch.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta hats and their lids and boil vigorously for 4 minutes.
Remove the hats and lids from the water with a slotted spoon and drain them briefly on paper towels. Set them on waxed paper while preparing the stuffing and sauce (see sauce recipe here).
In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower puree, the squash puree, the shredded parmesan and the basil. Add salt and generous grindings of black pepper to taste.
Stir in the walnuts and the eggs (I used Safeway's Best of the Egg egg substitute) until fully combined.
Have a large roasting pan at the ready drizzled with a small amount of olive oil then wiped with a paper towel.
Stuff each pasta hat with about 1 tablespoon of stuffing. Place the lid on the hat and put into the roasting pan lid side down.

Repeat with the rest of the hats, lining them up in cute little rows.
Pour the red pepper sauce over the hats, cover with foil and roast in a 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through.
Serve with a fresh salad of spring greens and a golden balsamic vinaigrette.

Cook's Notes:
Barring the use of the Mexican hat pasta, I suggest using large pasta shells or even manicotti shells.

5/6/2007: The photo turned out horrible, so I'm just going to tell you that I made a delicious soup with the leftover cauliflower-squash stuffing that went like this:
Roast 2 heads (not cloves, whole heads) of garlic in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the cloves and mash them with a fork. In a large pot, bring 4 to 6 cups of low sodium vegetable broth to a simmer.
Add the stuffing mixture to the pot of broth and stir to blend. Stir in the mashed garlic. Bring the whole thing to a simmer then serve in warmed bowls topped with a dollop of red pepper sauce, a spear of roasted asparagus and a spoonful of cooked Dungeness crab meat. It was not at all photogenic, but it was really, really good!

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. Looks really tasty and the hats pretty.

  2. They're really adorable! So was the farfalle in the other recipe.

  3. Christine - what a find! I've never seen these before. They're really cool. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Never even knew these existed. Very cool. Thanks for the link

  5. Thanks Anne.

    And thanks to you, too, Glenna.

    Catherine, This particular pasta company has a myriad selection of great pasta shapes.

    Maybe your village store can order some? Oh, well, just a thought. :))

  6. What a great starter for a party - they're so cute! I don't think I'll find them here, though. The French tend not to do 'cute' food - sigh... (they can be sooo serious about food)

  7. Katie,
    This is why France needs American ex-pats such as yourself - to lighten them up! :))

  8. If I ever come across those I know I'll have to try them! It might be silly of me but some things might not have to taste good just be fun!

  9. I've fallen in love with a pasta. I have to get those little hats! And I love all the other pastas on that web site. Thank you!!!!

  10. I agree Tanna. Although they did taste good.

    Did you go to the pasta link? Get Nugget to carry some of those pastas. I'll bet they would do well in Davis.


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