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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Squash’

I served these at my New Year’s Eve party.  They were one of those, rare “please please please let this idea in my head work” hail marys that actually turned out exactly as I had imagined.  A Festivus Miracle indeed.

I don’t have a recipe, but I can tell you they were easier than they looked.  First, I cut a butternut squash in half, oiled it, and roasted it in the oven until it was soft.  Scraped out the insides and threw it in the food processor.

To make the polenta, I heated 2 cups of whole milk,  1 cup of water, and about 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and added 1 cup of polenta over medium heat.  I whisked and stirred for a good ten minutes, then added about a 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash puree to the mix, as well as a good heaping teaspoon of salt.  Stir until it starts to get firm and the corn tastes cooked.

Pour the mixture into an oiled 9X13 pan and refrigerate over night.  The next day, I heated an oven to 350 and baked it for a good 30 minutes or so, until the top began to brown.  Let it cool, then cut into 1 1/2 inch squares.

To make the pesto, I cut a small chunk of parmesan cheese (probably about 1-2 ounces) and 5 or 6 large sage leaves and pounded the hell out of them in a mortar and pestle.  Add a bunch of salt and pepper and about 1 1/2 cups of walnuts.  Pound away until you reach the desired consistency and taste.  If it’s too sagey, add more walnuts.  If it’s not sage-y enough, mince some and add it in.  It’s really trial and error here.  Once the balance is right, mix in some olive oil until it gets to a pesto consistency.

To serve, dollop the pesto and a bit of mascarpone cheese on each square.  Surprisingly, they still looked and tasted fine well past midnight, so you can make these a bit in advance and serve at room temperature without a problem.

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I’m alive and I’m back.  I have had a really busy few weeks and just haven’t had time to post anything.  But, I signed up to do the Dark Days challenge again this year, which should keep me on a more regular posting schedule.

The Dark Days Challenge is hosted by (not so) Urban Hennery, and is a winter-long challenge where participants commit to cooking one meal each week comprised of local, organic, and ethically sound food.  I did it last year and had a lot of fun discovering new ingredients, as well as local resources, like my Marin Sun Farms meat CSA and the super delicious Stonehouse blood orange infused olive oil.  All the meals I made last year can be found here.

And this begins my second year.  As my inaugural entry, I made a pumpkin chestnut soup.  Technically, a kabocha squash chestnut soup, I guess since that’s the gourd I had in the house.  And oh em gee, it might be the best soup I have ever made in my life.  It was nutty in the way that a peanut based soup is, but earthier than that.  And kabocha squash (aka my new favorite winter vegetable) is also a pretty nutty tasting vegetable, so it worked really well with the chestnuts.

I will say that the chestnuts were a pain in the neck to shell.  Usually, once I find out I like a soup recipe, I make a triple or quadruple batch of it and freeze it by the quart.  But, the idea of shelling three or four times as many chestnuts makes me want to cry.  So, I won’t tell anyone if you buy the jars of shelled or pureed chestnuts.

I found the recipe on Sunshine’s Kitchen, discovered by browsing Food Gawker, and it is an adaption of a Martha Stewart recipe.  The produce all comes from my local farmers’ market, the chicken stock was homemade from a Marin Sun Farms chicken, and the cream comes from Clover Stornetta.

Pumpkin and Chestnut Cream Soup
Recipe by Martha Stewart, as adapted by Sunshine’s Kitchen

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 small onion, minced
1 large carrot, diced
3 small potatoes, diced
About 1.5-2 pounds of pumpkin, cubed (or kabocha squash)
About 1/2 pound of chestnut purée, or the same amount of cooked and peeled chestnuts
4 cups water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth
a good splash  cup of cream
salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

Directions

Heat butter in a large pot and add onions.  Saute until golden brown.  add carrots, potatoes, and squash and saute for a few minutes.  Add thechestnuts, and water or broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, carefully transfer to a blender to puree.   Add back to pot.  Gently whisk in cream or milk, and add a bit more water if the soup is too thick.  Add salt and pepper to season and serve.

I served mine up with a cold glass of Lagunitas Copper Ale – perfect match. 

 

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I saw this vegetable at the farmers’ market and thought it was a pumpkin.  Turns out, it’s not a pumpkin.  It’s a red kobacha squash, also known as a sunshine squash.  The guy at the stand assured me it was delicious though, so I figured it would sub just fine in this recipe.  It’s also the closest thing to a Halloween recipe I’ve got.

If you buy one, a word of warning.  Sharpen your knives, clear your countertop, and summon  your inner Freddie Krueger.  This is quite a bit more difficult than cutting a sandwich in half.  By the grace of God, goddesses, Xenu, and the Flying Spagetti Monster, I got this thing cut open without stabbing myself or breaking everything in my kitchen.  I had a few near misses, but chopped it all up without incident

 This is the first Rick Bayless recipe I’ve ever made, and I’m definitely interested in trying more now.  This recipe was unusual.  I don’t usually cook vegan meals, so it was a nice change.  I served it over rice, making it also a gluten free meal, so this dish would be a great contribution to a potluck or buffet, if you have a lot of friends with various dietary restrictions.   The recipe took a while to prepare, so it’s not really a good weeknight meal, but it makes a ton of food, so your labors will be worth it.  The recipe says it serves four as a main course, but my husband and I ate it for dinner, then for lunch, and still had leftovers.  To mix things up a bit, we  the last of it as a taco filling, piling it on corn tortillas and topping them with cotija cheese – really, really good. 

Smoky Braised Mexican Pumpkin (or Squash)
Recipe by Rick Bayless, via Martha Stewart

Ingredients

Three to six 1/4-to-1/2- ounce stemmed, dried chipotle chiles, or canned chipotle chiles en adobo
3 large cloves garlic
5 medium (about 8 ounces) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
2 medium round, or 4 to 5 plum, ripe tomatoes, or one 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced Swiss chard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes fresh pumpkin, preferably from a 1 1/2-pound wedge cut from a tan or green Mexican pumpkin or a 2-pound pie pumpkin 
2 poblano peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks (not in the original recipe, but I had some and figured I’d use them)

Directions 

Make the salsa: If using dried chiles, preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add chiles and toast, turning frequently and pressing down with a flat spatula, until very aromatic, about 30 seconds.  Transfer chiles to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit until chiles are rehydrated, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking.

Place garlic and tomatillos in the skillet. Toast, turning occasionally, until soft and blackened in some spots, 3 to 4 minutes for the tomatillos and about 5 minutes for the garlic. Transfer garlic, tomatillos, and their juices to the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender.

Drain chiles, either from the soaking water or their canning liquid, and discard liquid. Add chiles to the tomatillos and process to a fine-textured puree. Set aside.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, the original recipe recommends cutting them up and roasting them in the oven for a few minutes.  I didn’t see the point, and just skipped that step.  I don’t think it makes a difference, and the recipe is complicated enough as is.

In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute onions until soft and translucent.  Add the stems of the chard and the diced poblanos, if you are using them.  Saute for about 5 minutes or so, until they start to soften.  Add the chard and a few tablespoons of water. (I used the water leftover from soaking my chipotles.)  Add the salsa and tomatoes and stir to combine.

To make this dish ahead of time, cover and refrigerate sauce for up to 2 days, then continue cooking as follows.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the diced pumpkin and squash evenly in a glass baking dish (the recipe said 9×9, but I had enough food for a 8×13).  Pour the chard mixture over the squash.   Cover baking dish with foil and bake until pumpkin is tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Dish can be cooled and refrigerated at this point, if desired, then continue cooking as followed when ready to serve.

To continue cooking, uncover dish and raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue baking until sauce has reduced slightly and top becomes crusty, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately, with rice, corn tortillas, or whatever you’d like.

 



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Last night was a late night.  We were out celebrating friends’ engagement and I woke up this morning starving.  Granola and yogurt didn’t really cut it, so when I was at the farmers’ market, I went a little crazy.  In my mad frenzy to find things to make the hunger go away, I grabbed some tortillas from Primavera and some raw milk cheddar from Spring Hill Farms.  Primavera makes these amazing white cheddar and pumpkin tamales, so I wanted to try to recreate that flavor.  And I knew from my chorizo and sweet potato tacos that their tortillas were delicious. I had  half a butternut squash in the fridge left over from the coleslaw, so my lunch was sounding pretty good in my head.  Some good looking avocados and citrus fruit were out, so those went into my backpack as well.

To make the quesadillas, I just roasted some 1 inch cubes of butternut squash, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, at 425 for about 25 minutes.  Mashed that up and spread it on a tortilla.  Topped it with some grated cheese and another tortilla and cooked it up in a skillet for a few minutes on each side.

For the salad, I diced an avocado and segmented a pink grapefruit and a blood orange.  Toss those up with a bit of salt and pepper, and lunch was ready.

 

When I was finally able to eat it, I was a happy, happy girl.

 

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This is a weird dish though.  Good, but weird.  The squash is raw.  I liked it, because it was fresh and crunchy, but it has a really unusual taste.  I found it tasted better the next day, after it had sat for a while and absorbed some of the dressing.  My husband wasn’t so much of a fan, as he claimed it had a raw squash taste.  That’s sort of the point, but I suppose if you don’t like the raw squash taste, then you probably won’t like this.

If you’ve got any butternut squash still stashed away from your garden or CSA, this would be a good dish to try.  It’s a great way to use up the squash in a lighter, more spring appropriate dish if you are sick of heavier soups and roasted vegetables.  IT’s also super easy and takes just minutes to prepare.

Butternut Squash Coleslaw with Honeyed Goat Cheese Dressing
Recipe by Tyler Florence

Ingredients
4 ounces fresh creamy goat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used golden raisins, though cranberries would probably be prettier.)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, combine goat cheese, honey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.  Whisk it up well until fully combined. 

Remove the top narrow portion of the butternut squash and peel, and reserve the bulb for another use.  Or just use an entire small squash.  The recipe recommends using a mandoline to cut it into long, fine matchsticks, but I don’t have a mandoline.  Into the food processor it went, using the grating blade.  Perfect.  And probably easier than the mandoline.  This should yield about 4 cups, though I probably had at least 6 and found the dressing enough to cover all that.  Fold it into the dressing and add the dried fruit, walnuts, and parsley.

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I don’t really have that much to say about this dish, except that:

1. It’s really good, really easy, and you should make it.  And quickly, because spring is almost here (exhibit A – asparagus at the farmer’s market last week). 

2. It makes a ton and reheats relatively well.

3. Between this and the sweet potato gnocchi with arugula I made a few months back, I’m now convinced that arugula and orange vegetables go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga de dinga a dong.

4.  Leave out the cheese and it’s great for the vegans.  Or, go the other direction and add bacon. Which, since I’m not a vegan, would be the way I’d go. 

Penne with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Bitter Greens
Recipe by me

Ingredients
1 pound of penne
1 1/2-2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, and cut into a 1 inch dice
1/2 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
A few large handfuls of greens.  I used arugula and radicchio, probably about 5 or 6 cups.
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Grated parmesan to serve

Directions
Preheat oven to 425.  Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss in a roasting pan.  Roast for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until squash is soft and lightly carmelized around the edges.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook the pasta.  Return the pasta to the pot.  Slowly mix in the squash, along with any juices from the pan.  Add the greens in bunches, stirring until just wilted.  Add the toasted walnuts and stir to combine.

Serve with grated cheese.

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A slightly more sophisticated looking dinner than last week, using very similar ingredients.

And, this soup rocked.  Butternut squash, pear, and turnip?  Yes, please.  I already had one standard butternut squash soup recipe, but now it has competition in the rotation.  You can definitely taste the pear in it, though the spicy turnip balances everything out, keeping it from being too sweet.  The recipe looks simple, and I was tempted to add some leeks or garlic or something.  I didn’t, and I found I didn’t need to.  It works perfectly just as it is.

The fancy floating pear was pretty easy to do, so try it out and impress your guests with your oh-so-Martha presentation.

On the side, a mix of mustard greens and salad greens.  I dressed it with olive oil and cider vinegar (not local), with a tiny splash of maple syrup (a local-to-them gift from family in Massachusetts).  The maple dressing was really good on the bitter, spicy mustard greens.

All and all, a delicious winter meal.

Pear and Autumn Vegetable Soup
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
4 small Bartlett pears (about 6 ounces each), plus an additional larger pear to use for the garnish
1 sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 turnip (about 3 ounces), trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 sprig fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, white if you have it

Directions
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Cut the larger pear into paper thin pieces, using a mandoline or sharp knife.  Pick out the seeds and stem.  Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut 2 medium pears lengthwise into paper-thin slices.  Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake about 1 hour, or until the pears are dry.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Peal the remaining pears.  Halve lengthwise and core.  Add the pears, squash or pumpkin, and the turnip to a 4 quart stockpot with the sage and a teaspoon of salt.  Cover with water (at least 4 cups) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Discard the sage.  Carefully transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree in batches.   Return the soup to the pot and bring up to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the cream, salt, and pepper.   Serve with the dried pears as a garnish.

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I am embarrassed to be putting this picture up because it just is not an attractive meal.  But, this was my local meal for the week, and I’ve committed to talking about it.  So, let’s just get the ugly photo out of the way.

Yeah.  Sorry about that. 

It’s a butternut squash pancake with smoked cheddar cheese and braised dandelion greens with garlic and lemon.  All local ingredients. Other than that, I’ll spare you the details.  Let’s just say the pancake tasted a lot better than it looked.  The dandelion greens did not.

Finally, I must add that my wonderful husband is a trooper.  I felt so horrible putting such a hideous looking plate down before him, and he graciously ate it up with compliments, not complaints.  I don’t know if many people could be so supportive of my weird cooking attempts, so I’ll just say that he rocks.

I promise something more appetizing looking very soon.

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The other night, I had big plans to make my Winter Pizza again.  While the dough was rising, I carmelized the shallots, prepped the squash, and grated the cheese.

Then I looked at the dough.

It was a hot mess.  It was hard as a rock and hadn’t really risen.  It seems there was a problem with the yeast.  I had no idea how to salvage it and I was starving.  So, I threw out the dough and did some quick thinking. 

Arborio rice in the pantry, vegetable stock in the freezer, and an open bottle of white wine in the fridge meant my new risotto recipe was born.

I made a butternut squash risotto last year.  This one is much more complex, so I recommend ignoring that one and opting for this.  While it wasn’t pizza, it was still pretty damn good.

Butternut Squash and Carmelized Shallot Risotto

Ingredients
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 cups of  butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely diced sage leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, or a mix of stock and water
a couple tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese and grated fontina cheese

Directions

Bring the stock to a simmer.

In a separate, heavy pot over medium high heat, add tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the shallots and saute for about 8 minutes or so, until they become golden brown and carmelized. 

Add the rest of the olive oil, and the diced butternut squash and the sage.  Start cooking the squash, and after 3 or 4 minutes, add the arborio rice.  Stir to coat the rice.

Add the wine, stirring and cook until almost all liquid has been absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Ladle about 1/2 cup of broth into the rice and stir, until almost all liquid is absorbed.  In 1-2 ladle increments, slowly add the rest of the broth, stirring and letting it absorb until adding more.  This should take about 20-30 minutes.

Stir in the fontina and the parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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Last week, it was freakishly cold, wet, and rainy here for a few days.  These ingredients made it all better. 

I piled them on pizza dough topped with fontal cheese and the result was amazing.   Fontal cheese is a type of Fontina, only nuttier and earthier.  If you can’t find it, I’d go for regular Fontina if you prefer mild cheeses or Taleggio, if you like more pungent cheeses.

Winter Pizza

Ingredients
Butternut squash – peeled and diced into 3/4 inch chunks, about 2 1/2 cups
4 ounces of an earthy, nutty cheese like Fontal or Taleggio, grated (if it is soft, it helps to stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes before grating)
1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
15 or so sage leaves, more if you’d like
3-4 shallots
Pizza dough (I use this one)
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425. 

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the shallots and saute for about 8 minutes or so, until they become golden brown and carmelized.  Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil.  Add the butternut squash, and saute that for 5 minutes or so.  This is really just to make sure it gets fully cooked when it goes into the oven.  You don’t need to make it soft, just brown it for a few minutes to start the cooking process.

Roll out the pizza dough and brush the carmelized shallots over the base, making sure they are evenly distributed.  It won’t be totally covered, just more of a flavoring.  (If you want it totally covered, I would double the shallots.) 

Sprinkle the cheese on top, followed by the squash and walnuts.

Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  While it is baking, toss the sage leaves in a drop of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  You just want to coat them so they don’t burn in the oven and get a little fried.  Take the pizza out and sprinkle the sage over the pizza.  Put the pizza back in the oven for another 8 minutes or so, until the cheese starts to brown.  Then serve.

The end result really was incredible.  I want to make this all the time.  The walnuts get really sweet in the oven and complement the cheese really well.  The salty sage leaves are a nice bite too.  With a glass of pinot noir, this really did make life a lot better.  I would definitely consider cutting this up in small pieces and serving this as a party appetizer.  So good.

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