IMG_0107

Zucchini Chard Cakes

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shared this zucchini chard cake recipe with folks this summer. I was sure that as soon as I mentioned zucchini I would be greeted with a sigh and eyeroll.

“No more zucchini!” they’d say. “We’ve had enough!”

 

Because, let’s be honest, each summer we all have more than enough of the ubiquitous green squash. Even if we don’t, we probably know someone looking to give away a few dozen or so. But to my surprise, as I traveled around making zucchini cake after zucchini cake, I didn’t get one complaint. In fact, people were enthusiastic to find another way to put it to use.

I’m always happy to be proven wrong. Really. That’s why this became my go to dish (along with a complementary tomato basil chutney) for my cooking demos and local food tastings. Apparently we haven’t reached peak zucchini. Word is still out on kale, though.

rainbow swiss chard keene fm  by SC, 2008

 

These cakes use the classic technique of vegetable hiding. Zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor all on its own and when you mix it into what is more or less a standard pancake recipe, you hardly can tell it’s there at all. So much so, that you can also get away with chopping up even more healthy green stuff – chard and parsley – and mixing it in as well. Simply avoid those fruitless debates with the picky eaters in your life (note: none of mine happen to be kids) and just go ahead and serve these anyway. Before they can tell you how much they don’t like these vegetables, they’ll be happily and unknowingly eating them anyway. Call me cruel, but this is one of my great pleasures in life.

Zucchini Chard Cakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 10 – 4 inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • small bunch of Swiss chard leaves
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • splash of milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil + some for the pan

 

We’re going to need to shred the zucchini. You can do this quite easily with a box grater, or if you’re intending to shred a large quantity, I’d opt for the food processor like I did here. If not using all of the zucchini at once, it does freeze nicely.

Next, grate the onion. I prefer to grate the onion instead of chop it, as it will blend better into the pancakes.

 

Remove the stems from the chard and save for another purpose. Chopped and tossed into a stir fry, perhaps? Then chop the leaves.

Combine the egg, salt, and flour in a bowl. Add in the zucchini, chard, onion, garlic and parsley and stir to form a thick batter. Add just a splash of milk and the oil to form a more workable, pourable batter.

 

Heat your skillet and lightly coat it with oil when hot. Preheat the oven to 200F. Pour 1/4 cup spoonfuls of batter onto the hot skillet and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Flip and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer the cakes to the oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder of the pancakes.

Serve as a side, topped with tomato chutney, or as a light summer dinner with a side of greens.

IMG_1724

Beet Burgers

That’s no typo. Beet (not beef) burgers are awesome. But I’m going to go ahead and guess you aren’t already enjoying these at your typical summer cookout. Though there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. If you give these guys a chance you might be surprised – even you non beet lovers out there. A couple of attendees at a demo yesterday afternoon certainly agreed. They’re crunchy, sweet and moist. On a slice of toasted bread with some fresh greens and cheese, they quickly surpass the usual overcooked, dried out burgers that I often dread at gatherings. I want flavor! And these deliver.

The keys to a good veggie burger, aside from something like a portobello mushroom burger, are a balance of beans, grains, veggies and seasonings. What’s cool is that you can use whatever kinds you like. Pinto beans? Sure. Quinoa? Why not? Sweet potato? Definitely. But it’s certainly a balance. I’d say ia 1:1:2 ratio of beans to grains to veggies is ideal. Then flavor with the herbs and spices you prefer. Though, firmer vegetables are pretty much a necessity if that’s your burger’s focus. The root vegetable avenue is probably the way to go. And maybe some winter squash too.

On the other hand, an even balance of beans and grains, supplemented with some vegetables, works fine too. Though, technically, something like that might be classified as a bean or grain burger rather than veggie. Keep in mind that the beans and grains contribute proteins and amino acids that make a non-meat burger nutritionally balanced, so they’re certainly an important component no matter which kind you make.

Good characteristics of a veggie burger are: 1) that it stays together and 2) that it has some texture (not mush). If you find your burger heading in either of those directions, throwing in the chopped or ground nuts will help improve things immensely. I find that adding too much flour results in (logically) an overwhelming flour taste.

If you’re new to veggie burgers, this is a good place to start. And beets aren’t all that messy to work with – despite popular belief. I’ve never had an issue. And you could always use a food processor. So, have fun with this one and then try some of your own combinations!
 Beet Burgers

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 9 burgers

 Save yourself some time: Use leftover cooked rice and beans. When cooking grains and beans – always try and make some extra and freeze in cup sized portions for quicker cooking in recipes (like this) later on. Don’t feel like chopping? Throw the beets, onions, peppers and garlic in a food processor, instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced and seeds removed
  • 3 large red beets, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (or 1 can)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp parsley, minced
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped/ground nuts (optional; walnuts or almonds work well)
  • Olive oil
  • Bread, cheese and other burger fixings

Instructions

  1. Heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and peppers and cook until softened. Stir in the beets. Cover and cook until the beets are tender, stirring occasionally – about 10-15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the cider vinegar and lemon juice.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the black beans up a bit. Add the rice, the beet mixture and herbs and spices. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Slowly mix in a little flour and nuts (if using) until it’s a thick enough consistency for forming patties.
  3. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. When you see the oil shimmer, the pan is ready.
  4. With your hands, scoop up about a cup of the burger mix and shape it into a patty between your palms. Set it in the pan, where it should begin to sizzle immediately. Shape and add as many more patties as will fit in your pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high.
  5. Cook the patties for 2 minutes, then flip them to the other side. You should see a nice crust on the cooked side. If adding cheese, do so now. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes.
  6. Serve the burgers on buns or lightly toasted bread along with some fresh greens.
  7. Cooked burgers should be eaten the same day. Leftover mix can be saved for up to a week. OR, form your patties, place on parchment or wax paper and freeze for a few hours before transferring to a large freezer bag.

Recipe adapted from Nick Evans at www.macheesmo.com.

IMG_2036

Strawberry Leek Quesadillas

Strawberries and leeks? Yes, that’s right. An unlikely pairing perhaps, but one that totally works. I am more than a little amped to stockpile fresh strawberries and use them in new and interesting ways, like this.

Strawberries are one of the first fruits of the season in VT and young, tender leeks should start hitting the market. If you can’t find leeks just yet, try any other mild onion. Scallions or chives could work well here.

Find out which farms offer pick your own strawberries. It’s a good opportunity to get out there and enjoy a sunny day. Our Valley Food & Farm Guide can point you in the right direction.

You’ll want to slice, wash and then chop your leeks. While making these for high school students a couple weeks ago, I was shocked that almost none of them could describe a leek! Though I wonder if I could at that age, either…

Then saute them down until they’re soft and slightly browned. Meanwhile, start slicing the strawberries.

Get your cheese, cilantro and black pepper ready to go. Making a quesadilla is kind of like making a stir fry – you want everything ready to get in the pan at about the same time.

Side note: I recommend sticking with a quick melting, gooey cheese like mozzarella. I tried goat cheese and found it hardly melted down. I then tried cheddar and there wasn’t that beautiful binding quality either.

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil, heat the pan to high heat, then add, in this order: one tortilla, the cheese, the cooked leeks, the strawberries, the cilantro, pepper and second tortilla. Cook about 3 minutes. Flip with a large spatula and cook the other side another 3 minutes or so, until the tortilla is nicely browned and the cheese is melted.

Combine with a salad and you’ve got yourself a quick dinner.

Strawberry and Leek Quesadillas

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 + quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 1 leek, light green and white portion only
  • A handful of rinsed and hulled strawberries
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice your leek in half lengthwise. Thoroughly rinse the layers then thinly slice into small pieces.
  2. Saute the leek in a little olive oil over medium heat. Cook until soft and slightly browned.
  3. While the leeks cook, slice the strawberries.
  4. Get all of the ingredients ready to go.
  5. Heat a clean pan with just a slight coating oil. Then add the ingredients in this order: tortilla, cheese, cooked leeks, strawberries, cilantro, pepper and second tortilla.
  6. Cook the first side for 3 minutes. Flip with a large spatula and cook the second side for another 3 minutes. The tortillas should be nicely browned and cheese completely melted.
  7. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen.

corn-chowder

Summer Corn Chowder

Sweet, crunchy and slightly rich. It’s summer corn time. And when added to this chowder, those flavors are only further enhanced – and not drowned out with cream. With some smart techniques, there’s no need for such embellishments or reason to consider corn chowder anything but healthy.

Summer Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn, cobs reserved
  • 3 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch of chives or scallions, or 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (only if your corn isn’t sweet)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small bunch of thyme, tied together with string
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 quart milk, half-and-half or nondairy milk
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 lb bacon, chopped (optional – cook in pot before step 2 until crispy, then remove and use to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Cover the reserved cobs with water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes as you prep the rest of your ingredients. When done, discard cobs and pour the broth into a large bowl.
  2. In the same pot, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, chives, sugar and thyme. Stir and cook for a minute.
  3. Pour the broth back into the pot with the chopped potatoes and 1/2 of the corn kernels. Generously season with salt, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. (Optional) Use an immersion blender to blend the soup just slightly to thicken. Or, transfer a portion of the soup to a traditional blender if desired.
  5. Add in the remaining corn kernels, the tomato and the milk. Simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with the bacon, if using, and a sprig of thyme.

You start by slicing the corn kernels off your cobs. Simplify the process by using the setup pictured here. More details on that in a previous post.

Then, take those de-kerneled cobs, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to remove their hidden flavor – perhaps as you prep the rest of your ingredients. Though this can always be done ahead of time.

Meanwhile, chop some onions. You can use an onion, or as many of the recipes I’ve given out lately include, chives, for a milder flavor.

Tie a small bunch of thyme together with kitchen string. I really love the flavors of thyme and corn paired together. Don’t have time? Try another woody herb. Rosemary or oregano could work. I don’t recommend dried thyme, however. I just don’t care for the flavor. We’re tying it together because we’re going to remove it after simmering the soup.

Chop your potatoes. Larger pieces will take longer to cook, but result in more texture, whereas small pieces may break down into the chowder after cooking.

Now heat a pot over medium high heat – if your cobs have finished simmering you can strain the broth, set it aside, discard the cobs and use the same pot. Then add the onion/chives, thyme and chopped garlic. Salt and cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the potatoes, half of the corn kernels and the corn broth.

Bring it to a boil and let simmer for a good 20 minutes or so. You don’t want a heavy boil, but just so it’s gently bubbling. Afterwards, taste, add more salt if needed and continue simmering if the potatoes aren’t cooked.

Now for the fun part

 Then add in some chopped tomatoes and the milk. Tomatoes are completely untraditional here, but I like them anyway. I’ve also enjoyed it will some zucchini as well. Whatever grade of milk you prefer will work – though skim will make it less creamy. I’ve found that soy milk adds a surprisingly rich flavor without the calories and fat of cream. Add a splash of olive oil or a couple tablespoons of butter if you find it lacking.

Ladle into bowls and top with fresh green herbs like parsley or basil. Or, if you prefer to use bacon in your chowder, as many do – cooked in the pot before the onion – you could add that crumbled bacon to the top of each bowl. Enjoy.

IMG_3844

No Recipe Vegetable Sauce

If you take a look at my fridge or kitchen counter right now you’ll find odds and ends of lingering summer veggies. Green tomatoes on their way to ripening, a couple of Japanese eggplants, all kinds of peppers, mixes of herbs in jars of water and other remnants.

I’m sad to pull be cleaning out the garden – though the bursts of warm temps are surprisingly keeping the peppers and eggplant going, if not at a bit slower of a pace. And I’m still seeing many of these items still at market – but probably not for too much longer now.

Though they might not be in their prime anymore, that certainly doesn’t stop me from finding a use for them. You could should try the ratatouille, or you could do something even easier – just cook everything down in a big saute pot.

Yeah, that’s right. With some tomatoes in there to release their juices (don’t be afraid to use the green ones for a completely different, but still delicious flavor), it doesn’t take long for everything to break down and transform into one awesome vegetable sauce. Just start with some onions and garlic in oil. Add in whatever veggies you have. Season. Toss in some chopped herbs towards the end of cooking. And when it looks sauce-like, use however you want. If it still needs a little flavor, add a splash of vinegar, another pinch of salt, or a few more herbs.

Toss with pasta, fill up tacos, cover a pizza, serve over your favorite grain or just eat it plain. I’ve even freezed sauces like this with some success.

Whatever you do, just don’t let the last of those summer flavors go to waste!

IMG_3979

Eggplant Curry

Eggplant is one of those foods, like summer squash, I often hear people say they don’t like. And, as usual, I tell them that they just haven’t had it prepared well. On it’s own, without any seasoning, eggplant can indeed be a little tasteless and bitter. But that’s exactly why we need to know how to handle and prepare this nightshade veggie for maximum flavor and health benefits – like the ton of fiber and manganese it contains. And, when done well, eggplant can rival the taste and texture of chicken – making it a vegetarian favorite.

I recommend peeling your eggplant, especially if it is a larger variety like Black Magic – the most common kind you’ll find in the United States, pictured at left in the first photo above – and especially if it is not at it’s peak freshness.

It’s often said you should salt eggplant and let it sit for 30 minutes or so in order for the water, and bitterness, to be released. I say go for it – if you have the time and have planned ahead. I often don’t. Having tried it both ways, I can’t say I see a significant difference in the end, especially in a dish like this.

Note: Since I had quite a few eggplants to get through when I took these photos, you’ll notice they did start to brown. But I wasn’t worried because they cooked in the curry sauce and no one ever noticed. 

Start with some garlic. Brown it just slightly in a medium sized pan with some olive oil for a couple of minutes. Then add in the eggplant and a few pinches of salt. You want to cook the eggplant, stirring often, until it starts to release some liquid, 5-10 minutes.

Next, in goes the curry powder, ginger and coconut milk. I’m a big fan of coconut milk sold in cartons like this. I use it for everything from plain drinking to smoothies to cooking. However, when coconut milk is called for in a recipe, it’s probably referring to the heavier, richer kind you’ll find in cans. I recommend keeping a few of these cans, found in the international section of your grocery store, on hand at all times. They’re shelf stable. The cartons are not. But the carton works for a lighter flavor, and if you’ll use it up like regular milk.

Keep simmering the eggplant for a good 25 minutes or more. Taste it as you go and see how it’s tasting. You’ll know it’s done cooking when it melts in your mouth. Adjust the seasoning as needed and throw in the remaining garlic just before finishing. And it’s good to go!

Want to add peppers? Onions? Or other veggies? Feel free to add them in when you add the eggplant. I kind of like the simplicity of the eggplant though.

 

Eggplant Curry

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. Place oil and 1/2 of the garlic in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Two minutes later add the eggplant and a couple pinches of salt.
  3. Stir and toss constantly until after 5 or 10 minutes the eggplant begins to release some of the oil it has absorbed. Add in the curry powder/paste, coconut milk and ginger.
  4. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until eggplant is tender, about 30 minutes. About five minutes before it is done add the remaining garlic. Season. Garnish and serve over rice or another grain.

eggplant curry

146-001

Squash Pasta in Sage Butter Sauce

Ever have an amazing dish out at a restaurant and then try to recreate it again at home? I do all the time. Sometimes I’m successful and other times not so much. But what I’ve learned is that it’s all about the flavors.

One of my favorite meals was in Florence, Italy when I was traveling abroad a few years ago. It was squash filled ravioli. I couldn’t remember much more than that later on when I thought about it again at home. But I knew it included winter squash, pasta, and cheese. And that was enough to get me going.

To become a better cook that’s exactly what you need to do – pay attention to flavors and do some experimenting. Mastering techniques is important too, but what isn’t is feeling like you need to follow a recipe exactly. This and this are two excellent resources to help you think more about flavor, less about following a recipe word for word, and on your way to making a dish your own.

Eventually, I found that what I was looking for was sage, particularly – fried sage leaves. When paired with almost any kind of winter squash it’s an amazing combination. And a little butter makes it even better. Now, I pair sage and squash all the time. Maybe too much. But they’re flavors I love and this quick pasta dish proves why.

I had an acorn squash so that’s what I went with this time. Butternut, pumpkin, hubbard – whatever you like or already have will work great. Don’t be afraid to try some new squashes you might encounter at the market. Just ask a farmer if you’re not sure what they taste like.

With an acorn squash, I use a knife to slice off the skin because a peeler is just too ineffective. But first I cut it in half and scoop out the seed.

Then I cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes, throw in a baking dish with a little oil and salt and get it roasting in the oven. Because the squash is in small pieces, it’s going to cook pretty quickly – about 20-25 minutes at 425F.

Try to control yourself from eating it just like this when it’s done. Or better yet, roast a couple of squashes at once and have some for snacking or ready to go for another meal.

Meanwhile, get a pot of water boiling for the pasta. Add in the pasta and a good amount of salt when the water is boiling. Drain when al dente, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.

Now wipe out your pot and melt some butter. We want to brown it, so that means letting it cook until all of the foam subsides. In the process, the butter acquires a really nice nutty flavor.

When it’s starting to brown, add in a handful of sage. Cook for just a couple of minutes then remove the leaves from the pot and toss in some sliced garlic. Again, control yourself. Those sage leaves are quite tempting, aren’t they?

Fortunately, dinner is just a couple of minutes away now.

After the garlic starts to just slightly brown, pour in a cup of the reserved pasta water, the pasta, squash and some grated Parmesan. Toss together and let cook a minute or so until the water is mostly gone.

Crumble the sage leaves over top, add in some pumpkin seeds if you like, and get eating.

Squash Pasta in Sage Butter Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large winter squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small bunch of fresh sage leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • shaved parmesan for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 425
  2. Halve the squash. Scoop out the seeds and peel the skin.
  3. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes, toss with the olive oil, some salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes or until tender.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  6. Salt the water and cook the pasta until al dente.
  7. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.
  8. In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat and let cook until foam subsides and it begins to brown.
  9. Toss in the sage, cook for two minutes and remove from the pot.
  10. Add in the garlic, cook until just starting to brown then add 1 cup reserved pasta water, the cooked pasta and squash, and the grated parmesan.
  11. Toss together and cook until the water is mostly gone and a light sauce remains.
  12. Serve with crumbled sage leaves, the seeds and additional cheese. Use the other cup of the pasta water when heating up leftovers, if there are any.
329

Anytime Vegetable Curry

Curry has been on my dinner rotation quite often lately. Maybe you tried the eggplant one I shared with you recently. Well here’s another take on this versatile dish and a little more info on how to make it your own.

What is curry you ask? I made a vegetable curry with some kids at Grace Church in Rutland the other evening and I asked them the same question. I was impressed with their responses, as well as their enthusiasm to try everything as I chopped up the vegetables. And they were eager to chat about some of the foods they cook at home. Keep cooking guys and awesome job parents!

They said curry is a spice, a sauce and vegetables. And that’s pretty much accurate. Curry can refer to the dish itself. In this instance, curry means the sauce, vegetables and whatever else that make up the dish. Curry can also refer to a spice blend, made up of a number of different spices. Curry blends might include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, or garlic. And third, curry is a leaf from a curry tree.

People often think that curry is spicy, and this isn’t always true. The powdered spice labeled simply as “curry” in stores is actually often on the sweet side. But there are many other varieties with a bit more kick available. You can also make your own if you have spices you want to use up and want to control the heat. I like Alton Brown’s basic curry spice, but suggest toasting the spices before grinding to really bring out their flavor.

Often, I use a paste, like the one pictured here. I don’t use too many condiment-like products in my cooking, but this is one I don’t mind buying rather than making. I have made it before but found it doesn’t keep as nicely. If you want to give it a go, here’s the one I tried. It’s vaguely similar to the dry spice mix but has some fresh ingredients, like chiles, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar in addition to the spices. You can find both Indian and Thai pastes, in varying heat levels, available in most stores. I find they keep well for some time in the fridge.

This time, I used a mix of veggies that I had hanging around, which having just finished clearing out the very last of my community garden plot, is quite a few. It’s that time of year when there seems to be a mix of everything with fall crops now here. Broccoli, beans, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are just a few popping up back at market. What’s great with this recipe, is that you can sub in the veggies you like no matter the time of year.

Here’s everything that went in the curry. Leeks, cauliflower, cooked winter squash, corn I had frozen from the summer, and a red pepper. That tomato never actually made it.

Tofu was my protein of choice. And coconut milk made for a nice sauce to the dish. It also makes this more of a Thai curry than Indian.

I start with the leeks then add in the peppers and the paste mixed with just a little of the milk. After a few minutes in goes the tofu, milk and cauliflower then the corn and squash.

It doesn’t take long for everything to come together in a vegetable curry – another reason why I’ve been making it so often. It’s quick and I can use whatever I like. By keeping curry paste (or spice) on hand and a few cans (or a carton) of coconut milk, I know I can make this at any time of the year and even last minute.

While everything finishes up, I chop some fresh parsley and toast a little coconut. And you’re done.

 

Anytime Vegetable Curry

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6 servings

These are the ingredients I used this time. Next time, I know it will be different. So just use this as a guide and aim for 6 cups veg with the optional addition of 16oz protein.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced and rinsed
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste or powder
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 16 ounces cubed tofu
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed winter squash
  • chopped parsley for serving (optional)
  • toasted coconut for serving (optional)
  • chopped cashews for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a good sized pot over medium heat.
  2. Add in the leeks and cook 2 minutes before tossing in the pepper and the curry paste mixed with just a splash of the coconut milk.
  3. After 2 more minutes add in the cauliflower, tofu and the rest of the milk.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring once in awhile, then add the squash and corn to the pot.
  5. Cook 5 more minutes then top with the parsley, coconut and/or cashews and serve.
217

Winter Squash, Red Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza

Have you tried the 5 minute pizza dough yet? No? Well here are three excellent reasons to go, right now, and take literally 5 minutes to mix it up and get it rising: roasted winter squash, red onion and goat cheese. This combo, with a little olive oil, salt and balsamic, makes for one awesome pizza. I could not keep it on the table last week at RRMC. Staff and visitors were raving about it and the recipe cards went quick.

The dough, simply made up of flour, water, yeast and salt, doesn’t require kneading – just a quick mix with a wooden spoon. Check the label next time on one of those pre-made crusts in stores. I’m betting there are quite a few more than four ingredients.

Once you have that good to go, roast your squash. Any kind of winter squash will work – though maybe not spaghetti. For a quick roast, peel and chop, in small, bite sized chunks beforehand. This will greatly reduce how long you’ll need to roast. 15-20 minutes with a little oil and salt should be good.

Try keeping cooked winter squash on hand this time of year. Have it ready for pizza, soup, salad and other dishes, anytime.

The other option is to cut your squash into large chunks. When I do this, I don’t bother peeling. Just remove the seeds, drizzle on a little oil, sprinkle some salt, and into the oven it goes. This will take 45 minutes to an hour. If you are waiting for your pizza dough to rise, it’s the perfect time to also roast the squash. If your dough is already ready, go the quick route.

Either way, roast the squash at 425.

If you already chopped up your squash, then after roasting, it’s ready to go on the pizza as soon as your dough is done rising. If you went the large chunk route, let the squash cool a little before slicing off the skin and cutting it up. One advantage of this method is that the squash will be very easy to work with.

Preheat the oven to 450. If you have a pizza stone, heat it in the oven. If you don’t have a stone, flip over a cookie sheet and preheat this in the oven instead.

Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment. Forget making it look perfect and bothering with the perfect crust edge. I like a thin, crunchy pizza crust, so I roll the dough out as thin as I can. If you like it doughy, then don’t go so thin, but keep in mind you’ll get less pizza out of it.

After it’s rolled out, drizzle over a little olive oil. Then spread over the crumbled goat cheese. I spread it out a bit with the back of a fork. Next on goes the squash. And then the onion. Finally, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. If you’d like, go ahead and add some grated Parmesan or herbs such as sage, rosemary or thyme.

Place the parchment in the oven on your heated stone/sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or more until you’re happy with the browning. Cool the pizza for 5 minutes before slicing. And here’s a good slicing tip: try using scissors to cut the pizza instead of a knife. You’ll be less likely to lose your ingredients in the process.

 

Winter Squash, Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 medium sized pizza

Already have pizza dough and cooked squash? Then it’ll be only a few quick minutes before you’re enjoying this healthy, seasonal pizza. Quicker and better than greasy takeout!

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of Pizza Dough
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed/chopped winter squash
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced or chopped (your call)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 and place a pizza stone or upside down cookie sheet inside to heat.
  2. Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the dough.
  4. Spread the goat cheese over top.
  5. Cover with the cooked squash.
  6. Top with the red onion.
  7. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over it all and a little salt.
  8. Carefully place the pizza, on the parchment paper, onto the heated stone or sheet.
  9. Bake 15-20 minutes or until browned and crispy to your liking.
529

Squash and Bean Burgers

Getting kids to eat their veggies is not always easy. I don’t have kids, or even claim to know much about them, but this is something I hear about all the time. When I’m out offering people samples, it’s not unusual for parents to take a look at the food and say, “my kid wouldn’t eat that” or “Johnny hates squash”.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that.

I think that parents are often the ones who don’t like the foods, don’t make them, and aren’t willing to give them a chance because they simply believe their kids wouldn’t eat them either. If we want kids to eat smarter, than it’s up to us adults to first change our own attitudes. And that can start with cooking and some creativity. We can involve kids in the kitchen and be open to trying new foods.

Sunday I did just that. I worked with a girl scout troop to make squash and bean burgers. I wanted to do something hands on, colorful, and just a little different. I don’t believe kids should eat boring, bland foods. I certainly don’t like them. Why would they?

It was fun because the girls got to mash up all of their burger ingredients. In went the cooked squash, black beans, quinoa, bread crumbs, onions and garlic.

The breadcrumbs, quinoa, nuts and seeds act as the binder that keeps everything together, while adding extra fiber and protein. Make your own breadcrumbs by grinding stale bread in the food processor, if you have it. And experiment with the seeds and nuts of your choice. The first time i made these I used the squash seeds, but didn’t prefer such a chewy texture in the end. I like the crunch of sunflower seeds better and used those the second time around.

The spices are typical Mexican flavors you’d find in something like tacos – spices you probably already have in your pantry. But these aren’t spicy. Many basic chili powders, are in fact, sweet. A little cayenne powder, or chopped pepper could up the heat for you though.

There are a few ingredients to work with here and maybe it’s more than you’d prefer. But a little planning brings it all together with little extra effort. Roast the squash, cook the quinoa and soak the beans a few days ahead of time, at your convenience. None of these require much attention. Why not prepare some extra while you’re at it?

Cooked squash, grains and beans are good in so many dishes. Having them ready to go at any time makes for quick cooking at any time of day. Or maybe you have leftovers of some or all of these items in your fridge already. Any kind of grain, squash or bean could work in these burgers, so put those leftovers to another use!

After all the mashing, the girls formed their own patties. I let them feel invested in the process and I think because of this they were open to trying the burgers, even though they all said they had never had them before.

Why not try: Making a batch (or two) of these burgers, wrapping them individually and having ready to go in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner any time during the week. Or freeze them to last even longer.

Squash and Bean Burgers

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Yield: 6 + burgers

Roast the squash (step 1) in advance and you’ll have burgers ready to go in no time.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups winter squash, cut into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, rinsed, if not using dried beans)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup nuts, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil, bake on a sheet in an oven preheated to 425F. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes. (Optional: If you’d like to use the squash seeds in the burgers, rinse and clean them then fry in a pan over medium heat with two tablespoons oil until browned. Alternatively, you could use sunflower seeds.)
  2. When cool, peel off the squash skin, cut into pieces and mash in a bowl with the beans. Fold in quinoa, chili powder, cumin, coriander, seeds, nuts and salt.
  3. Lightly sweat the onion – until it breaks down and begins to turn translucent – and garlic in a small pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Fold into the squash mixture with the bread crumbs.
  4. Using your hands, shape into patties.
  5. Add oil to a skillet, heat to medium and fry burgers until browned, 2-3 minutes on each side.
1 2 3 4