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Archive for the ‘Squash’ Category

This time of year, the market is beginning to look pretty scarce. Beside brussel sprouts, green vegetables are rumoured to exist. And as much as I love turnips and beets, there are only so many one can eat before you are craving something a little more exciting. This is when the humble squash begins to shine. Abundant mid-winter, this vegetable is sweet in every sense of the word. I love the flavours of squash and curry mixed (curried butternut squash soup being one of my favourites), so when inspired last weekend to cook dinner for 8, I decided to invent a moroccan-inspired stuffed acorn squash.

The resulting entree was a delight – the nutty bulgar infused with fragrant spices complimented the sweetness of the squash flesh, with the cranberries and red pepper adding a hint of red dazzle!

To make this dish vegan, simply omit the ground chicken.

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash
(each squash serves 2)

Ingredients:
2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
*********************
3/4 cup uncooked barley
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
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Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound ground chicken
Handful of carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. Place squashes cut side down in a glass baking dish. Bake until tender, 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, before scraping out the squash fleshing, leaving 1/2 inch thick bowls. Reserve the squash to add to the mixture

Meanwhile, bring bulgar and broth to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until all the broth has evaporated. Remove from heat, let stand, covered for five minutes.

Saute onion, garlic, and ground chicken until the vegetables are translucent and the chicken is cooked through. Add the carrots, zucchini, red pepper, and spices, and saute for five minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the spices are fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the craisins, chickpeas, parsley, bulgur and squash flesh. Sample filling, and adjust spices as desired.

Divide the filling among the squash halves, and return to oven. Bake until warmed through and the stuffing is starting to crisp, 12-15 minutes.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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I often cook up a large batch of food on Sunday to last me for the week, and this Sunday I craved lasagna with a twist.  Rummaging for inspiration through my fridge, I happened upon an acorn and butternut squash.  Squash is one of my favourite vegetables, and, as winter approaches, it is one of the few you can find at the market.  The beauty of this vegetable is the sweetness and versatility of its flesh.  This recipe from the Food Network was receiving rave reviews, so I decided to give it a go.

I felt the recipe needed garlic as well as a new flavour to balance the sweetness of the butternut puree, so as an experiment, I introduced arugula to offer a bitter contrast.  The original recipe only used mozzarella and Parmesan, but I love ricotta so included it with the cheese layer.  The final lasagna was enticing: the 15 minutes of letting the lasagna sit was torture as the aromas of pesto and cheese wafted through my apartment.   And I can attest that the zesty arugula balanced the mellow squash beautifully!

Butternut Squash and Arugula Lasagna

(serves 12)

 

Ingredients:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1.5 to 2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup vegetable stock
 
PESTO BECHAMEL

1/4 cup butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup flour

1 litre (4 cups) milk

2 bay leaves

Generous pinch nutmeg

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (or a few tablespoons of pesto)
 
REST OF LASAGNA

12 spinach lasagna noodles (either fresh no-boil or pre-boiled)

2 cups packed arugula

2 1/2 cups mozzerella cheese

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 
Directions:

To make the butternut puree, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the squash and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour the broth into the skillet, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.  Cool slightly and then transfer the squash and any remaining liquid to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Season the squash puree with more salt and pepper to taste. Set the puree aside.

To make the pesto bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and flour and whisk until slightly brown.  Gradually whisk in the milk and add the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg.  Allow the bechamel to cool slightly.  Transfer a cup or two of the sauce to a blender.  Add the basil and blend until smooth.  Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the lasagna, preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.  Lightly butter a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.  Spread 3/4 cup of the bechamel over the prepared baking dish.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzerella cheese, 1/4 of the ricotta, and 1 cup of arugula.  Drizzle 1/2 cup basil bechamel over the noodles.  Repeat layering 3 more times, including the other cup of arugula on the 3rd of 4 layers.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna.  Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer.  Let the lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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To continue with the squash theme of the season, I’m posting this recipe for this very delicious risotto that I invented with my roommate during a dinner party earlier this week. I found that using delicata squash in this risotto actually avoided the need for parmesan, making this recipe an easy one for those looking for dairy-free recipes, and a delicious option for those who just simply don’t have any in their fridges (as in my case).

With the autumn changing to winter, I find myself craving the warmth of dishes like this one. The key to making risotto ultra creamy is to stir it constantly while it cooks. It may feel tedious at the time, but it sure pays off in the end!

Ingredients – 6 servings

-1 onion, diced
-1 Tbsp butter or oil + extra for roasting squash
-1 1/2 cups arborio rice
-3 cups vegetable broth
-1 cup water + more if necessary
-1 cup dry white wine
-1 whole medium-large delicada squash, seeds removed and cut into quarters
-dash of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Clean and quarter the squash, then cover with a light coating of oil and a dash of salt. Place in a pyrex dish and bake, uncovered, approximately 30-35 minutes or until very soft and the edges begin to brown.

Place the broth and water in a covered pan and bring to a boil. Heat butter or oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Cook onions in pan for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add arborio rice and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until grains become lightly toasted. Add in wine and stir. Once most of the wine is absorbed, add a cup of broth, and continue stirring. Repeat once liquid is absorbed. Mash the delicata squash and add into rice. Stir. Continue adding broth all the way until it has been fully absorbed. Keep broth simmering while you are adding it. If you run out of broth before your rice is fully cooked, just add a bit more bouillon or water that you have preheated. By the end, all that stirring will result in an unbelievably smooth risotto.

If you like, keep a few pieces of squash separate untili the end to garnish the risotto with. You can add a pinch of parmesan or crushed hazelnuts to top this delicious meal off. Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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The clock is ticking for me, and my fridge must be emptied in the next week. Each autumn I have a tendency to accumulate squash – and last night I had a squash-themed dinner party with my roommate to get through them: squash dishes accompanied by a few delightful glasses of wine. I have had this particular salad recipe sitting around at the back of my head for the last few weeks, and finally, last night, I gave it a go. It’s a delightful combination of bold flavours and textures. Next time, I’ll add some toasted or candied nuts in to give it even more depth.

Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 small red hubbard squash (or other squash with flat skin)
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp crushed tarragon
-4 cups baby arugula leaves
-1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

-2 tsp grain mustard
-2 tsp cider vinegar
-2-3 Tbsp olive oil
-pinch salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Peel and cube squash, then toss in olive oil, salt, and tarragon so all sides are coated. Roast in a pyrex dish for 20 minutes, then turn cubed squash over and roast for another 20 minutes.

Wash the arugula, and set aside.

In a small jar, mix the mustard and vinegar. Add the oil 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring constantly. Once the mixture thickens, add the salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad by first making a bed of arugula, then dropping on a handful of feta and warm squash. Drizzle dressing over top, and eat right away.

If you happen to have some nuts, it may be nice to toast them and sprinkle them on top.

Hope you enjoy this!

-Sitelle

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