I "retired" from the corporate world a couple of years ago because I wanted to experience a real life after years of 80 hour work weeks and constant travel. A year later I realized that I was having a really good time, was always busy (how did i ever fit in a job??) and needed a creative outlet to share my experiences. Now I split my time between California and New Mexico but, wherever I am, I write about delicious, fresh, local, organic/sustainably grown food.
the start of fall is always interesting in california. the weather at the end of august/early september is usually pretty hot..then, overnight it seems, there is a change and we have foggy mornings, cool afternoons and chilly nights...all the foodie magazines are touting hearty fall dishes, halloween decorations and autumn harvest produce. then..just as i start thinking about sweaters and jackets after a summer of tank tops and flip flops...we get "indian summer". for a couple of weeks the weather turns really hot again and it feels like summer...you would think that as a native californian i would be used to this phenomenon..but every year the weather fakes me out. today in napa, it is overcast and foggy. they say it will get to 70 degrees by this afternoon..not sure i believe it. so, my thoughts turn to fall dishes..something warm and cozy..something like winter squash. happily, it is squash week at the everyday food and away to garden blogs...perfect timing. some people are going to use summer squash..but since it feels like fall..i am going with fall dishes...and, since i love winter squash, the timing is perfect.i was at the market yesterday..and filled up a basket with a beautiful looking assortment of acorn, delicata and red kuri squash... a woman came up to me and said.."oh, what a beautiful display..are you using that for your fall decorations?" i told her..no..and said i was cooking them for a blog story on winter squash...she immediately asked for the blog address and confided that she bought squash every year..displayed it throughout her home during fall..and then threw it away because she had no idea how to use it! no, no, no..winter squash is beautiful..but it is also really easy to cook..extremely versatile..and good for you due to the high fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin a and vitamin c content...most importantly to me though..winter squash is absolutely delicious.
so today, i am going to feature 3 types of winter squash with three recipes...roasted red kurisquash; acorn squash and pinto bean chili with chipotle; and fusilli pasta withroasted delicata squash & fresh sage brown butter sauce...while i am using a specific type of squash for each of these dishes, feel free to experiment with different types. i find winter squash very versatile, and pretty interchangeable...some are a bit sweeter than others..so experiment and adjust ingredients as you like...let me know what you think..and please feel free to share your favorite winter squash recipes in the comments section of this post...
fyi..the easiest way to peel winter squash is with a vegetable peeler..however, for the "ridged" squashes like delicata, i cut the squash in half lengthwise, then i cut each half in half again..lengthwise. using a sharp knife, i carefully cut the peel from the flesh of the squash..then i cut the squash into bite sized pieces...
fusilli with roasted delicata squash & fresh sage brown butter
2 delicata squash
1/2 onion thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 lb dried fusilli pasta
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced shallots
15-16 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
freshly shredded parmigiano-reggiano cheese
preheat oven to 400 degrees. peel and seed squash and cut into bite sized pieces. place on cookie sheet, add onions and drizzle with olive oil. add nutmeg, salt & pepper and, using your hands, toss the squash and onions with the oil to ensure evenly coated. place in oven and roast for 30 minutes stirring occasionally until squash is tender and onions are caramelized. remove from oven and set aside. meanwhile cook pasta in boiling, well salted water until al dente. drain well and set aside. melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. cook butter until foamy and slightly brown..do not burn! lower heat to simmer, add olive oil, sage leaves and shallots and cook until shallots are softened and translucent. add squash mixture (including the oil from the pan), pasta, and pine nuts , combine all ingredients and cook until pasta is hot..add additional salt and pepper..taste and adjust seasonings if needed. serve immediately with plenty of cheese.
the chili recipe below is perfect for a cool, fall day. i serve it with a big salad and either corn bread or corn/flour tortillas...i do not think it needs anything else.
acorn squash and pinto bean chili with chipotle (made in a slow-cooker)
2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized cubes
1 large white onion, diced
2 anaheim chiles, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then thinly sliced
2 dried poblano chiles, diced
1 canned chipotle chile, minced
1 tbsp adobo sauce (from chipotle can)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chile powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 cups water
place dried beans in large stockpot and cover with water. soak overnight. in the morning, add olive oil to a large slow-cooker. drain beans and add to slow cooker. add remaining ingredients in the order listed. stir gently to combine all items. cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 5-6 hours. taste and adjust seasonings..it will probably need additional salt.
*note, my husband, peter, sometimes asks for a heartier version. he loves this chili with buffalo meat. i season cubes of the buffalo with salt and pepper then brown in a skillet with olive oil. add to rest of ingredients at beginning of recipe, stir and then follow the directions above.
this easy, breezy version of roasted squash is perfect for cool nights because it is quick, delicious, a perfect side dish for roasted meats or chicken..or anything really..and the entire house smells lovely while the dish is roasting...
roasted red kuri squash
8 cups red kuri squash, peeled,seeded & cut into bite sized cubes
1 white onion, peeled and cut in quarters
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup organic honey
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
preheat oven to 375 degrees. place squash and onion on baking sheet. drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper over the vegetables and, using your hands, mix together to ensure everything is evenly coated. roast in oven until vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize..about 20 minutes. remove from oven and place in serving bowl. top with honey, walnuts and balsamic vinegar..stir and serve..
please do share your favorite squash recipes in the comments section of this post..and don't forget to check out the everyday food and away to garden blogs for additional recipes and gardening tips if you want to grow your own winter squash.