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ZUCCA ALLA RICOTTA FORTE (Winter Squash with Sharp Ricotta)

A specialty of Brindisi, Italy, this dish can also be made with pumpkin squash. If you cannot find ricotta salata, a salted, hard ricotta, use a sharp or salty cheese such as pecorino or ragusana.

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5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 to 3 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and minced

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large celery stalk, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 butternut squash, about 1-1/2 lb., peeled, seeded, and diced

2 to 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped

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1/4 cup sharply flavored black olives, pitted

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated sharp ricotta cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Toasted bread or crackers

In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm 2-1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the anchovies, garlic, celery, and onion and saute until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the squash and brown quickly, turning to color evenly, just a few minutes. Return the onion mixture to the pan and add the capers and olives. Stir well, cover, and cook until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste and toss to mix.

Transfer to a warmed dish, and serve with crackers or toasted bread.

Serves 6.

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