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This recipe was inspired by my friend, Laura Hahn, a gluten-free food blogger at Guilt Free Foodie Cutie and winner of NBC’s Next Local TV Chef.  She invited me to help her cook and staff the gluten-free table at the March of Dimes Chef’s Tasting Gala with 500 attendees being held at the Please Touch Museum.  With less than a week to spare, and GF baguettes and brownies from Sweet Christine’s Bakery in Kennett Square, PA coming our way, we devised a plan.  (To read more about this adventure, check out my article.)

Laura and I divided and conquered.  Being obsessed with fall foods and wanting to resurrect my Halloween pumpkin, the idea for my spread was born.   I was going to make the Winter Squash Ricotta Spread finished with pomegranate seeds, and she made the White Bean Spread finished with an Arugula Pistachio Pesto.  The choice for ricotta came about, because Laura convinced me it would make the spread go farther than cream cheese.  So I began my Google search for a mouth-watering recipe including pumpkin and ricotta, and to my dismay, came up empty-handed.  How could that be possible?!!  There seemed to be no such thing as the spread I had been turning over in my head.

And that my friends, is how the recipe was born . . . a pinch of this, a pinch of that . . . and the use of my favorite ingredient . . . MOLASSES!!  To read more about health benefits of blackstrap molasses, click here.


Gluten-Free Winter Squash Ricotta Spread Recipe

You’ll have to bear with me on this one, because I made this recipe hoping to feed 500 people.  It made 4 quarts of spread.  I played around with it using only 2 cups of squash, but it might not be totally perfect. Feel free to adjust the amounts of spices and cheese you use, and feel free to tell me what you did.  All I can say is that Laura went home that night and told me she ate a whole pint by herself, so it must have been pretty good.

Serving Size: about 1 quart

Ingredients:

– 2 cups pumpkin or winter squash (canned or roasted) (I used 1 cup pumpkin and 1 cup butternut squash)
– 1 TBSP ricotta cheese (or to taste)
– 1 TBSP black strap molasses
– 1 tsp ginger
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/8 tsp cloves
– 1/8 tsp salt
– 1 tsp vanilla extract (gf)
– 1 tsp powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Halve and seed your squash.

2. Roast squash flesh side down in the oven at around 400*F for about 1 hour.  For details on roasting squash, click here.

3.  Let roasted squash cool for about 20 minutes skin side down and then scoop out the flesh.

4.  Put 2 cups of the squash in a bowl, and using an immersion blender, puree it.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, stick it in your food processor to get it smooth and uniform – no clumps.

5.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend again.

6.  Spoon onto your favorite baguette, and top with pomegranate seeds or even a cranberry sauce.

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