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Author Notes: The cottage cheese recipe is from Food52er lapadia and only takes 35 minutes to make, from start to finish! While the cottage cheese rests, start the rest of the dinner, inspired by Winter Squash Agrodolce> in Bon Appétit. —Sarah Jampel
Serves 6 to 8
For the cottage cheese (makes about 3/4 cup):
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Cream, milk, yogurt, or crème fraîche
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Affix a candy thermometer to a large pot and pour in the milk. Over medium heat, heat the milk until it reaches between 175° to 180° F, stirring now and then to keep the milk from sticking.
- Take the pot off the heat, add the lemon juice while stirring, and mix thoroughly. Cover the pot with a dish towel and let sit for 30 minutes, until you see that the curds have separated. (You can start prepping the orange vegetables—see below—as you wait!)
- Set a colander lined with cheesecloth in a bowl, then slowly pour the curds and whey into the colander and allowing the whey to drain away. Wait about 5 minutes. (Discard the whey or save it for several other uses: https://food52.com/blog/14715-12-ways-to-use-up-whey.)
- Tie the four corners of the cheesecloth around the curds, then rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle, then squeeze and rinse. After completely cooled and squeezed, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with salt.
- When ready to serve, stir in cream, milk, yogurt, or crème fraîche to make a creamy mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the orange vegetable pileup:
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds (more or less) winter squash and/or sweet potatoes (I like a mix of delicata, kabocha, and Japanese yam)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 hot red chiles (like bird's eye or cayenne)
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 lime
- Coarsely chopped roasted salted almonds, for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oven to 475° F. Peel any squashes that need peeling (peel kabocha, buttercup, red kuri; no need to peel delicata or sweet potatoes). Remove seeds from any squashes, then cut all vegetables into wedges about 3/4-inch thick. (You'll need to cut any very long squash in half lengthwise before wedging).
- Toss the wedges with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a generous shower of salt, and grindings of black pepper. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until soft all the way through and golden-brown and caramelized.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring chiles, vinegar, honey, raisins, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thicker and more syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Take the finished vegetables out of the oven, brush with the warm agrodolce, and transfer to a serving plate. Dollop the cottage cheese (stirred with the cream to make it creamier) all over, sprinkle with herbs, then spoon the rest of the agrodolce over top, drizzling it over all the vegetables. Shower with lime zest and a squeeze of lime juice. Top with chopped nuts if desired.