Squash Dip

Holiday Appetizers: Squash, Kale, and Onion Dips

The entertaining season is upon us and here are 3 dips you can bring to your company pot luck or your neighborhood gathering that use foods you can find at farmers’ markets in winter. Another tasty appetizer to share is Quick Kimchi using local cabbage. Celebrate the season with local food!

 

Squash Dip

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

by Alexandra Kazimir, RAFFL

Often prepared mashed with maple syrup or brown sugar, winter squash is delectable. I love transforming this sweet, nutty squash into a savory dip, that also boasts of the versatility of butternut.  By utilizing savory spices, such as a curry, and the subtle sweet earthiness of nutmeg, the natural sweetness of the butternut is intensified. This dip makes a lovely spread for sandwiches, pasta sauce alternative, or a simple appetizer with crackers or toasted baguette (top with chopped walnuts or toasted pumpkin seeds to dress it up for the holidays).

Ingredients:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 c roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 c soft, tangy cheese (quark, goat cheese, yogurt)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (add more for a punchier dip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 Tbsp water to thin

Cooked squash

Directions:

  • Cut, peel, and de-seed squash. Chop into 1-2″ cubes.
  • Drizzle squash with olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes at 400-425 degrees F on a lined baking sheet.
  • Add cooled squash, cheese, oil, nutmeg, and curry powder to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice or vinegar. Add water to thin mixture until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. This dip is delicious served simply with crackers; use it as a sandwich spread, or even as a pasta sauce!

The flavors continue to develop and intensify as the dip sits, so it will be even tastier the next day. If possible, make it ahead of time, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to a week).

Kale

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

courtesy of My Recipes.com

Ingredients

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded fontina or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assorted crackers and crudités

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté kale, onion, and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until particles loosen from bottom of Dutch oven.

2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in Asiago cheese, next 4 ingredients, and kale mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 1- to 1 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes; top with bacon. Serve with crackers and crudités.

 Root 5 onions

Caramelized Onion Dip

courtesy of Food and Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Let the onions cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onions to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream cheese, parsley, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or veggies.

The onion dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

Squash Dip

Savory Butternut Squash Dip

by Alexandra Kazimir, RAFFL

Often prepared mashed with maple syrup or brown sugar, winter squash is delectable. I love transforming this sweet, nutty squash into a savory dip, that also boasts of the versatility of butternut.  By utilizing savory spices, such as a curry, and the subtle sweet earthiness of nutmeg, the natural sweetness of the butternut is intensified. This dip makes a lovely spread for sandwiches, pasta sauce alternative, or a simple appetizer with crackers or toasted baguette (top with chopped walnuts or toasted pumpkin seeds to dress it up for the holidays).

Ingredients:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 c roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 c soft, tangy cheese (quark, goat cheese, yogurt)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (add more for a punchier dip)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 Tbsp water to thin

Cooked squash

Directions:

  • Cut, peel, and de-seed squash. Chop into 1-2″ cubes.
  • Drizzle squash with olive oil. Roast for 35 minutes at 400-425 degrees F on a lined baking sheet.
  • Add cooled squash, cheese, oil, nutmeg, and curry powder to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice or vinegar. Add water to thin mixture until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. This dip is delicious served simply with crackers; use it as a sandwich spread, or even as a pasta sauce!

The flavors continue to develop and intensify as the dip sits, so it will be even tastier the next day. If possible, make it ahead of time, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to a week).

curried squash apple soup2

Curried Squash Apple Soup

This is the start of soup season at my house. Soups are comforting and can be super easy, like this amazingly delicious 3 ingredient soup (there are 3 main ingredients, but there are some spices and cider that you’ll need, too).

The original recipe is from Ina Garten, but I’ve made a few adjustments to reduce the spice level. A trick I use to make this a 15 minute soup is to pre-cook the squash. When I have too many squash rolling around the kitchen counter (CSA share back log, irresistible sale at the farm stand, garden abundance, etc.), I cook all the squash at once and then freeze what I don’t need. That way I can just pull the pre-cooked squash from the freezer and add it right into the soup.

(Easy tip for cooking winter squash and pumpkins: Cut whole squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet (lined with foil if you want to make clean up really easy). Add a little water to the pan and cook in pre-heated 350 degree oven until tender. Scoop flesh from the skin and freeze in pre-portioned amounts.)

curried squash apple soup


Curried Squash and Apple Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, The Food Network

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp each butter & olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and cubed
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 -1 tsp curry powder (adds heat & flavor)
1 1/2 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 cup apple cider, juice, or water

(Garam masala is a traditional Indian blend of spices including clove, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, and cardamon.  You can find it in most grocery stores or co-ops.)

Squash apples
Directions:
Heat butter, olive oil, onion, and curry powder in a soup pot on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add squash, apple, salt, Garam masala, cider or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until very tender.

Remove from heat. Puree with blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Return to heat and thin with cider to desired thickness. Serve and enjoy!

 

024

Holidays = Local + Healthy

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Well, at least it’s easy when it comes to getting local food and incorporating that into a healthy diet.

Now it is almost winter and the once abundant local offerings of dewy lettuces, ripe berries and fragrant tomatoes at the farmers’ markets have dwindled to practically nothing after the first frost. Add to that the challenge that the holidays can bring when you are trying to eat clean, healthy and whole foods and things begin to look dim indeed.

But never fear, we have strategies. And ideas. And a recipe. Okay, we have two recipes. Because it isn’t Everyday Chef without a recipe (or two)!

Chard

Eat Your Greens

Cabbages, collards, chard, kale and mustards are just a few local greens easy to find this time of year. Incredibly healthy, these greens are frost-hardy and often get a touch sweeter as the cold sets in. Although a bit toothsome for a raw salad, kale dressed with a favorite vinaigrette and allowed to mellow out in a bowl for an hour will be delicious and tender with crunchy, toasted seeds, thinly sliced red onion and chopped apples. Throw in some fresh goat cheese, feta or cheddar and you have a satisfying and beautiful side dish that is fit for the holiday table.

Another trick to bring out the amazingness of these cold loving greens, is to cook them. Cabbage cut in wedges, lightly browned in a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then braised in liquid (stock, cider, etc), turns out a melt-in-your-mouth sweet dish that pairs beautifully with roasted meats and vegetables. Try caraway or fennel seeds for an added dimension of flavor. Collards are underappreciated, but when cooked until tender and dressed with onions, salt and pepper, they yield a buttery, tender mouthful that begs for slow cooked beans, a bit of bacon and a cold glass of cider – perfect for welcoming the New Year.

Parsnip

Get Back to Your Roots

By the time the colors on our trees are but a memory and stick season shoulders its way in before the snow, I am ready the quintessential group of winter vegetables in Vermont, root veggies. Root vegetables can be found from your local farmer throughout the winter and well into spring. They store beautifully and when all the fresh eating veggies are long gone under the drifts of snow, we can dig out beets, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips and onions. At Thanksgiving, I like to offer a warm bowl of whipped turnips with sage, a less calorie laden alternative to our favorite mashed potatoes. A regular favorite in our house during the cold months is to chop a variety of root vegetables, toss with sliced onions, olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast on a sheet pan in an oven at 375F until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and you have a delicious and healthy side dish for roasted meats or to use leftover in salad or soups.

Color Me Squash…Winter Squash That Is

With their gorgeous colors and shapes, thick skins that equate to long storage and nutrient rich flesh, winter squashes are the stars of winter eating. Butternut, pumpkin, acorn, delicata, kabocha, and hubbard to name but a few, can be turned into mashed mounds of orange deliciousness, thick and creamy bisque-like soups, roasted for side dishes or stuffed with a million different things and turned out as a centerpiece on the holiday table. The key to cooking with squashes is to have a sharp and sturdy knife to cut through the tough skin and use a light hand with cream, butter and salt so that the various and unique flavors of the different varieties can really shine through.

Strategize Ahead and Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

The holidays are meant to be a celebration and food is often central to these gatherings. You may find yourself in a situation where your choices are being made for you and rather than get too caught up in the details, allow yourself to indulge and appreciate the bigger picture of being with others in a joyful way. In the meantime, strategize ahead when you can – eat a healthy meal ahead of your gathering, drink lots of water and keep your portion sizes in check.

And in honor of the recently past Halloween and my family’s ongoing fascination with the zombie apocalypse, remember don’t eat the locals, but DO eat local!

Stuffed Pumpkin

Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Many Good Things

Serves approximately 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Can double the recipe for a larger crowd!

Ingredients:

1 small pumpkin, about 3lbs

Salt and ground black pepper

1 ½ cups bulghur or brown rice, cooked

1 ½ cups chopped apples

¼ cup sharp cheddar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp each dried rosemary and parsley (or 1 T each of fresh, chopped)

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

4 T shredded parmesan, divided into two parts

⅓ cup of vegetable stock or milk

Directions:

Center the rack in an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the pumpkin(s) with parchment paper. Keep in mind that you may need a bit more room to maneuver a spatula in case you want to serve the pumpkin on a different dish.

With a sharp and sturdy knife, carefully cut the top ¼ or ⅓ off from your pumpkin, like you are making a jack-o-lantern. Set aside the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a cavity that can be filled. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss together the next 8 ingredients, setting aside 2 T of parmesan. Pour half of the measured liquid on the mixture and toss to coat. Add more liquid as needed so that the stuffing is moist, but not swimming.

Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin until filled to the top. Any leftover stuffing can be baked separately in a dish. Set the pumpkin in the parchment lined dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the stuffing. Put the pumpkin top on and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 2 hours. About 20 to 30 minutes before it is done, remove the pumpkin top so the stuffing can brown.

You can serve the pumpkin straight from the baking dish or for a more elegant presentation, using a steady hand and a sturdy spatula, transfer the whole pumpkin to a serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve!

Notes: Pumpkin seeds can be cleaned and roasted with a little olive oil. All the vegetable bits, including the pumpkin pulp, can be added to a pot with water, brought to a simmer for several minutes and strained for a delicious vegetable stock.

Cooking Variations:

  • Almost any winter squash can be used in place of the pumpkin, with roasting times varying. Smaller or elongated squashes (like delicata or butternut), can be sliced in half and the cavities filled.
  • Think of this recipe as a guideline and try variations. For example, in place of the bulghur or rice, try pieces of whole grain stale bread. Or dried cranberries or apricots for the apples. Try pairing sage with chevre or mix in feta, mozzarella and swiss. This stuffing also pairs well with cooked sausage or bacon if you would like to add meat and nuts are delicious for additional protein and healthy fats.

 

Whipped Turnips with Leeks and Sage
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

4 large turnips, peeled and cubed

2 medium red potatoes, cubed with skin on

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly, soaked to remove sand/grit and then chopped finely

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp of dried sage

¾ cup milk

kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with the turnips and potatoes. Fill with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender and soft. About 20 to 25 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil and butter and melt over medium low heat. Once melted, add the leeks and sage, salt and pepper and saute until the leeks are tender and the sage is fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat, infusing the milk with sage flavor.

Drain the turnips and potatoes, reserving about ½ cup of the liquid. Set that aside. Put the vegetables back into the pot they were cooked in, add the hot milk and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. If needed, add small amounts of the cooking liquid to the vegetables until the puree is silky, but still thick. If you prefer a chunky texture, mash roughly until mixed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot or cold.

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL’s Everyday Chef

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.
photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Eat Your Freezer Clean! Week Two – Vegetables

Thank you for joining us on our second installment of the Eat Your Freezer Clean challenge! By treating our freezer like an organized and important tool in our kitchen, not only can we feed ourselves and loved ones with wholesome, nourishing meals, but we will save time, money and reduce waste.

It is (finally!) spring in the Upper Valley and the opening day of the season’s outdoor farmers’ market is weeks away.  While we wait in anticipation of all the good things that warmer weather will give us, let’s take a closer look at the vegetables you saved from last year; a teaser to the variety we can all look forward to in the summer and fall months.

Recipes abound on the internet on how to use your frozen vegetables, so below we gathered a few of our personal favorites and inspirations that are quick, easy and flexible.

 

CORN

  1. Quick and Easy Pan Roasted Side Dish– Choose a large skillet with a lid. Heat the skillet over medium heat, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer (takes several seconds) and slips around easily in the pan, but isn’t smoking, throw in a cup or two of frozen corn and quickly stir to coat with oil. Cover the pan and shake the corn over the heat occasionally, letting the corn steam for a few minutes. Uncover and continue to stir while the corn softens, browns and slightly carmelizes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of red chili flakes. I like to drizzle a bit of maple syrup on top when eating as a side dish with savory meats.
  2. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Add a cup of corn to a pot of simmering soup, chili or stew during the last few minutes of cooking. Top with any fresh herbs you might have on hand or might be getting leggy in the window, parsley or cilantro being two readily available favorites.
  3. Salad – Thaw frozen corn overnight in the refrigerator and drain in a colander. Because corn is blanched before frozen, it is just toothsome enough after thawing that it pairs wonderfully in a crisp salad. Try topping chopped romaine with black beans, thawed corn, your favorite salsa and chopped cilantro.

cookedspinach_ccmorguefile_small

Greens, Cooking

  1. Thaw, Drain, Dry – This method applies to all sorts of greens, but is especially useful with spinach as the leaves tend to retain a lot of moisture. Thaw your greens and drain in a colander. Using a clean dish towel with a tight weave, gather a large handful and wrap in the towel, twisting and squeezing out the water. OR just use your bare hands, as I tend to do because I hate to do more laundry than I need to. Or better yet, click on over to The Kitchn and give this ingenious tip a try, especially if you have a potato ricer gathering dust in your drawer.
  2. Green Smoothie – This works best with small frozen chunks, rather than large or thawed greens, but if you have ice cube sized frozen greens, try throwing a few in a blender with a bit of your favorite liquid (dairy or dairy-free milk, juice or even a bit of water), some fruit (I like to use frozen apples or fresh past their prime, frozen bananas or berries) and a tablespoon of nut butter. Give it a whirl, sweeten with honey or maple syrup if you need to and you have yourself a tasty, healthy treat!
  3. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Throw frozen greens into a simmering pot either a two or three minutes or several minutes before (if they are LARGE chunks) your favorite ladle-friendly meal is done cooking. Easy, delicious, healthy. We like that.

potatoescutcolander_ccmorguefile

Potatoes

  1.  Casseroles – There is nothing tastier than a comforting, warm casserole on a cool spring day. Frozen potatoes can be thrown into any egg or potato based casserole of your choosing. For a nutritious and filling one dish meal, toss frozen potato cubes (or shred), frozen greens, frozen corn and fresh or frozen onions with a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in a casserole dish and pour on a bowl full of eggs beaten with a bit of flour and milk. Dollop with ricotta cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until puffed and lightly brown or about 25 to 35 minutes depending on the size of your dish.
  2. Soups, Chilis and Stews – Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Frozen potato cubes can be thrown into any ladle-friendly meal about 15 minutes or so before it is finished simmering. You can also make a quick potato soup by covering two cups of frozen potatoes with your favorite salted/seasoned broth and simmering until tender and either pureeing for a silky bisque-like soup or keep it chunky and throw in other quick cooking veggies or leftover cooked meat.
  3. Get Ethnic! – Many cuisines use potatoes and two of my favorite are Indian curries and the delicious Spanish tortilla. Use care when cooking any frozen potatoes in oil and use the moisture they release to help cook them further by covering or partially covering the pan with a lid.

frozen-rhubarb_ccmorguefile_smallfrozen rhubarb_ccmorguefile_small

Other Frozen Friends:

  1. Rhubarb – bake in a pie with strawberries or stew with sugar and water to make a sauce
  2. Tomatoes – chop frozen whole tomatoes with a sharp knife and add to ladle-friendly meals or cook with butter, garlic, pesto or dried herbs for a quick pasta sauce
  3. Zucchini – add to ladle-friendly meals or thaw, drain and dry like you would frozen greens and add to muffins, cake, bread or saute in bit of butter and chopped onions until tender for a delicious side dish.
  4. Peas – beside the usual steaming or throwing into macaroni and cheese, try making soup! Here is a link to my absolute favorite recipe for fresh pea soup. And it is JUST as delicious and beautiful if you do not puree it.
  5. Winter Squash – Boil until tender, mash with a fork or whisk and serve as a side dish with a touch of salt and butter. Also try it in pancakes, make a silky coconut milk bisque or substitute the sweet potato in this delicious southern recipe for cake.
  6. Mixed Veggies – Use for stir-fry, fried rice, ladle-friendly meals or bake into a vegetable lasagna or make pasta primavera. It is that easy.

 

Resources:

The Kitchn – How to Make Your Frozen Vegetables Suck a Little Less

Epicurious.com

New York Times Diner’s Journal

BBC Good Food

Butternut Squash Soup

From Nancy, the Farmer-in-Residence

Fall is when I head back to the kitchen after a summer of grilling everything – to roast, bake, and stew the largess of summer fruits and veggies. Here are few of my tried-and-true crowd pleasers.

Butternut-Squash-1-Your-Farm-2008-Nov-by-Lisa

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, yields 4-6 servings

3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

Cut the butternut squash, onions, and apples into 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until very tender. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree in food processor, blender, or immersion blender. When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there’s enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. Reheat and serve hot. Top with flaked sweetened coconut or lightly toasted and chopped salted cashews to add a little pizzazz.

 

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