We only eat meat about once or twice a week in my house. I am not sure when it happened, but over the years we just gravitated to a more vegetarian lifestyle. We all like a good steak and we enjoy burgers and hot dogs and stews and roasts, we are true omnivores, we just limit our meat. I think that keeping kosher actually pushes many of us in one direction or the other. If we are eating pasta we tend to go dairy so we can have our Parmesan cheese, while non kosher keepers don't think that way. Plus I have a small kitchen and only one sink, so I prefer to just stay on the dairy side of things most of the time.
Now that it is time to start planning for Shavuot it should be easy for me, but I like to find new things, different foods, something elevated that I don't cook all year. That is how I ended up with these two dishes perfect for the holiday, both using ricotta cheese.
Ricotta, like all cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. I used a small amount to add a rich creaminess to this Butternut Squash Gratin without as much fat as heavy cream. Ricotta is high in fat and calories, but it is also filled with vitamins and nutrients and a little goes a long way. For the gratin, the roasted squash and ricotta are a match made in heaven, but what really make this dish is the oyster mushrooms, get them at an Asian market for the best prices.
I was actually never a real fan of ricotta until I found fresher and good quality ricotta first from Stew Leonards and then from Natural and Kosher. The freshness makes a huge difference to the point that I would now eat it out of the container. I am not really a cheesecake fan either, but these little bites are perfect for me. They help with portion control and are low in sugar, especially if you go light or stay away from the extra chocolate. Each one is less than 80 calories, a perfect way to end your Shavuot meal.