Tag Archives: butternut squash
It’s not really time for stew. It’s late August, so for a Texan like me, that still means at least 3-4 weeks of hot temperatures to go. The stars were aligned for us last night, however, and a cold front blew in. The high temp yesterday? 80 degrees. It was 107 on Monday. That makes 80 degrees practically feel like sweater weather in comparison! Nearly every day in August has been over 100 degrees here, so we were a touch giddy.
Armed with fresh butternut squash from a local farm, and a desire to make a frugal, simple meal, I set off to make a stew. I cooked beans in the slow cooker while I was away at work, and when I came home, I was able to assemble this dish and have dinner in under 45 minutes. Not bad. If one was in a real hurry and bought frozen, cubed butternut squash, I imagine you could cut that time down to 15 minutes. For me, I prefer fresh – especially when it’s in season!
This stew is a lovely, spicy-sweet blend of flavors and textures. I forced myself to stop after a huge bowlful, but I could have easily had seconds or thirds, in spite of how filling it was. I brought a sample to a coworker for a taste; she loved it. Sounds like a win to me!
I measured amounts in this recipe, but you can certainly alter as you see fit. Feel free to use canned beans if that’s your desire. Increase or decrease the jalapenos or chipotle chili powder to suit your heat tolerance. It was relatively spicy when I made it, so if you can’t handle a lot of heat, you might want to only use 1 jalapeno. If you don’t have smoked meat, a bit of cooked, crumbled bacon or salt pork might do nicely, or you could simply omit the meat altogether, and add a touch of smoked paprika. That’s what I love about stews – there really isn’t a “wrong” way to go!
Butternut, Black Bean and Smoked Pork Stew
2 T grapeseed oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 c butternut squash, diced in half-inch cubes
3 c cooked black beans (about 2 15-oz cans)
2 c shredded, smoked pork or chicken
1 ½ T ground cumin
½ t ground chipotle chile powder
1 t sweet paprika
3 c chicken stock
Salt to taste
In a large, heavy pot, heat grapeseed oil to medium heat. Add onion and jalapenos and sauté for 8-10 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add butternut squash and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add beans, pork, cumin, chipotle chili powder, and stock and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt. Allow to simmer until butternut squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve topped with tomatoes and cilantro.
When fall nears, I start to get excited. Not only because of the cool, crisp air (which I love), but because of the delicious fall produce. As much as I’ll miss my fresh tomatoes, (and here in a month or two, you may here me complain about the lack of good tomatoes…fair warning.) now it’s nearing time for one of my most favorite fall vegetables – winter squash. Most winter squashes are subtly sweet, creamy, and marry so well with a lot of comfort dishes. I love them all – pumpkins, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and Tahitian. That’s right, Tahitian squash. I’d never heard of it, until a few weeks ago, when I was visiting the McKinney farmer’s market, and I visited my friend at Good Earth Organic Farm. He was selling not only butternut squashes, but he also had a large Tahitian squash available. I asked about it, mistaking it for a butternut. (they look VERY similar in color and shape) He described it to me as a nice, sweet squash that I could prepare in a similar manner to butternut. Needless to say, I was sold – and took that baby home with me.
What’s wonderful about winter squashes is that you don’t have to eat them right away. They can be stored for a long while. My Tahitian squash sat on my counter for a few weeks while I enjoyed my bounty of zucchini, okra, tomatoes, pears, and other summery produce, patiently waiting for its turn in the spotlight. On Sunday night, it was time for the Tahitian squash to shine. (Yes, Sunday…I know, it’s taken me a few days to get this to you!) A creamy risotto was just the right dish to highlight this sweet squash.
Contrary to what Hell’s Kitchen would portray, a risotto is not all that difficult to make. The big key here is to be stirring the risotto nearly constantly. (Perhaps one should plan to make it on a night when they are not the only one watching the kids…) But since you will be standing over the dish, you can “fiddle” with the dish as much as you like (something I have a desire to do with all dishes, whether they’re in need of “fiddling” or not). You also will be at the ready to test the doneness of the rice. Other than that, there’s nothing tricky about risotto – promise!
Tahitian (or butternut, or acorn, or pumpkin) Squash Risotto
2 T olive oil
5-6 lbs squash, such as butternut or acorn, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
4-5 c chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 shallot, minced
1 ½ c Arborio rice
½ c white wine
½ c Parmesan, grated
2 T butter
¼ c parsley, chopped
Bring a heavy, large sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once oil is hot, add squash in a single layer. (you may have to do this in batches – I did.) Saute squash for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
Reserving ½ c of the diced squash, puree the remainder in a food processor or blender.
Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepan, and hold at a simmer.
Either wipe clean the sauté pan, or bring another large, wide sauté pan to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Swirl until butter melts. Add shallots and rice and stir until shallots start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add white wine and stir, deglazing the pan. Once wine is nearly evaporated, add 1 ladle of chicken broth and stir into rice. Stir almost constantly to ensure that each grain of rice is cooked evenly. Once broth is nearly evaporated, add another ladle of broth. Continue adding broth, a ladle at a time, as the broth evaporates from the pan, and stirring continuously, until the rice is nearly done, just shy of al dente.
Add the pureed squash, and add more broth as necessary. (Your finished risotto should not be sticky/gluey and clumpy, nor should it be thin. You’re striving for a creamy consistency here.) Stir until the rice is al dente. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and parmesan. Stir until butter melts and cheese is incorporated. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Remove from heat, and top with reserved diced squash and sprinkle with parsley for garnish.
Wait, there’s more – Foodbuzz Blog Awards
I’m sure you have heard about Foodbuzz.com several times by now. I am a Featured Publisher on their site, the advertisements on this blog are from Foodbuzz, and I’ve participated in their 24,24,24 events (see Exploring Texas BBQ and Bringing the Bayou to the ‘Burbs). Well, Foodbuzz has officially announced the Foodbuzz Blog Awards. The Foodbuzz Blog Awards aim to recognize talent in the blog community through nominations and voting. So please, if you enjoy my blog, nominate me! (yes, this is my shameless plug) Nominations are open from September 14 – 30. The categories for nomination are:
Best Overall Blog
Best New Blog
Best Wine Blog
Best Cocktail/Spirits Blog
Best Baking Blog
Best Food Photography Blog
Best Visual Blog (graphic design)
Best Writing Voice
Best Healthy Living Blog
Best Green/Sustainable blog
Best Family Blog
Best Recipe Blog
Best Blogger Humanitarian Effort
Best Community Blog Effort (recognizing blogging groups/challenges/etc)
Most Humorous Food Blog
Blogger you’d most want to:
-Take to dinner
-Cook a meal for you
-Be your personal Sommelier
-Create you a cocktail
-Watch on Food Network
-Watch on Iron Chef
-See open up their own restaurant
-See their blog made into a movie
So please, take a moment and nominate as many blogs as you feel deserve recognition! And thank you!
The other day, I discovered a wonderful new website. www.eatgreendfw.com If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you should visit this site! It’s almost like visiting the farmer’s market from the comfort of your home…you can order local, sustainable produce, meat, dairy, and other items from area producers. (Don’t live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? There is a great website for anyone in the U.S. http://www.localharvest.org/ I actually found a little farm not far from our house that sells fresh eggs from this site!) I was excited about the idea of this site, so I ordered some winter vegetables from Garden Harvests, a local farm near Waxahachie. Within 2 days, I received a box that contained some of the freshest, most beautiful winter vegetables – swiss chard, collard greens, beets (with their greens), and a bunch of cilantro. I was literally so excited that I jumped up and down. (yes…I realize that makes me a bit weird…jumping up and down over a bunch of vegetables. I am comfortable with my eccentricities.) What to do with all of these vegetables?
Well, as for the chard, I simply chopped and sauteed it with a bit of olive oil, crushed red pepper, and garlic. Check out Simply Recipes, Elise happened to have a recipe that worked wonders for this vegetable. It was slightly sweet, and just what I wanted. http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/000965swiss_chard.php
But that’s not what this post is about. I’m getting to that.
I also have had a bit of a butternut squash “thing” lately. It’s one of the most wonderful winter squashes. Sweet and creamy, and you can put it with anything. Since I happened to have one in the kitchen, I figured, why not use it? As for those beets, they were gorgeous. See? GORGEOUS.
Unlike most of the beets I’ve purchased in the past, the greens were still quite pretty. I didn’t want to waste them. So I began to think…why not use these ingredients together, for one super-whiz-bang vegetable side? And suddenly, this dish was born!
Of course, you can serve any one of these three vegetables on their own. Or combine two out of the three. But the three together complimented one another quite well.
I’ve listed each recipe out separately.
Roasted Butternut Squash
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into ½ inch cube
Salt and pepper
1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In an 8X8 baking dish, toss diced squash with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast in oven on center rack for 30-40 minutes or until squash is soft and lightly browned.
5-6 small beets, peeled and diced into 1 inch cube
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Heat a shallow, wide skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil, swirl to coat. Add beets, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Turn meat to medium-low and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes. Once beets are browned and soft, add garlic, and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
1 T oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ c water
1 T sugar
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
About 1 lb beet greens (or greens from about 6 beets), rinsed thoroughly and chopped into bite size pieces
2 T sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper
Heat a large saucepan to medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add water, sugar, and red pepper flakes and stir. Bring to boil, and add greens. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Put a portion of beet greens on each plate. Top with beets and squash, and serve.
I recently was browsing through the recipes on foodbuzz.com and saw a salad recipe posted by http://jenniferscooking.blogspot.com/. It looked so delicious, I was inspired. Like so many people right now, I’m trying to make healthy choices. This is a nice, satisfying change from the same ol’ salad everyone has been eating lately while trying to lose weight. What’s even better, is that you can save time and effort by purchasing a rotisserie chicken at the grocery if you would like, and use that for the chicken in this salad. Or, of course, you can omit the chicken entirely for a vegetarian dish. What’s so wonderful about salads is the versatility. Feel free to adjust however you choose, depending on what ingredients are available.
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into ½ inch pieces
½ T olive oil
Salt and pepper
Baby spinach leaves (one large bunch), washed and dried thoroughly
2 T Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cooked chicken breasts, torn into pieces (a store-bought rotisserie chicken works well here)
¼ c roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
4 oz feta cheese
3 T dried cranberries
Cherry tomatoes (optional)
1/8 c balsamic vinegar
1 t honey
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
¼ c olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the diced squash on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash has begun to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.
In a bowl, add balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic clove, salt, and pepper. Whisk ingredients together, and while whisking, pour in the olive oil slowly. (Alternatively, if you have a stick blender, use it to mix these ingredients.) Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Divide spinach leaves on four plates, and sprinkle with parsley. Top with roasted squash, chicken, and sprinkle pumpkin seeds, feta, and cranberries over. Add a cherry tomato or two if you desire. Drizzle dressing over, and serve.