Winter Squash Archive

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

butternut squash salad with farro and pepitas

butternut salad with farro and pepitas

This was my lunch last week. I know that it may look less like lunch and more like penance, some apology for eating too many squares of salted-caramel-glazed fanned-apples-atop-1000-layers-of-buttery-pastry. I realize that most people think that when you start serving them bowls hearty grains and roasted squash that you might have an ulterior motive, like their thighs. I understand that most people don’t believe me when I say this, but it doesn’t make it any less true: I don’t eat food because it’s good for me; I eat it because I like it. And this was one of the most delicious lunch salads I’ve ever made.

long cooked farro
peeling the squash, which looks like a peanut

Herein lies my approach to grain salads: I like whatever vegetables I’m using in the salad to be the bulk of it, and the grains to be the accent, like a crouton. When you make grain salad this way, you get to appreciate the its texture, and not just lament that it’s not plush as a mound of fine couscous, something you’d hardly notice eating. This, however, does not mean that they’re to be crouton-free; all salads need punch and crunch, and here, it comes from toasted, salted pepitas (though any nut will do), crumbled ricotta salata (though any salty, crumbly cheese will do) and minced red onion that I pickled at the last minute in sherry vinegar.

cubing up the butternut squash

Continued after the jump »

Friday, October 5, 2012

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

Something kind of terrifying is going on around here, and it started in the back of the closet. I found shoes there, old shoes, shoes that did not fit. They had to go. Thus far, this is the snoring-est horror story yet, but wait, the discontent simmers: Half the closet followed, all of the plastic hangers that drove me batty were replaced with nonslip ones, sweaters were color-sorted, dresses were arranged by season and my husband’s closet is on notice too.

pumpkin rolls, let's do this
it's the most wonderful time of the year

It gets worse: What began as a vague declaration that “this coffee table needs to be replaced” turned into an entire living room overhaul, from a fresh paint job to a new sofa, chairs, and yes, tables too. The throw pillows are looking nervous, as well they should. The kitchen cabinets got purged and everything that remained went into airtight glass jars. With labels. It’s like Aunt Pinterest came to town in there. Lest you think my three year-old has escaped my high straightenance bender, I bought every single pair of his pants in two sizes this fall, in case he goes on another wild growth spurt right around the time the universe runs out of pants; I picked up his Halloween costume on Labor Day weekend, and then, the shelves in his room just didn’t feel right to me and it turned out they were missing colorful baskets to hold his toys.

mixing and mixing in new glass bowl

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

baked pumpkin and sour cream puddings

pumpkin and sour cream pudding

Sunday night, I emailed off 497 pages containing 80,392 words to my editor (846 photos had been sent over before the weekend), went to bed at 2 a.m., woke up at 6 a.m. and a few hours later came home to a completely empty apartment and two entire hours to myself — two hours to nap or just stare slack-jawed at the ceiling fan and think about nothing for a while — and decided instead that I’d had enough of this pumpkin-free November I’d been having and went back into the kitchen to make pudding. That’s normal right? That’s what normal people do, right? Wait, don’t tell me.

the line-up
can also mix by hand

So, a manuscript has officially been delivered, a whole 6 hours in advance of its deadline. I am the eternal college student, apparently, though if you’d asked me 18 months ago when I was going to finish my book I could have probably told you right then “Five minutes before it is due.” I’m classy like that. I would hardly say that the cookbook process is finished — we’re still ironing out some kinks, there’s copyediting (I can’t be the only one who pities the copyeditor who must deal with the madness I pass off as grammar, right?), some reshoots, they’ve been kind enough to offer me design input though they’ll probably regret it when they see what bad taste I have… I won’t bore you with the details. But for the most part? I’m back! Whee! And there’s no place else I’d rather be.

for silky smooth pudding

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

spicy squash salad with lentils and goat cheese

squash salad with lentils and goat cheese

Odds are, this week is full of sugar for you. Chewy sugar, hard shiny sugar, sugar molded into candy corn, fluffed into marshmallows, coating adorable little popsicles of cake, wound with brown butter around grains of puffed rice and that doesn’t even include the peanut butter cups you’ll pilfer from your kid’s trick-or-treat bucket this weekend followed by the sweet slide from Thanksgiving’s marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes and December’s minty candy canes.

black lentils, soaking
bucheron

I, for one, could really go for a salad right now. I’ve been roasting a lot of squash and sweet potatoes lately, usually for the half-toothed member of our family and one day, I was looking to turn it into more of a fall salad and I stumbled upon a recipe from Bon Appetit. I nixed the arugula because the stuff I found at the market was spotty, and anyway, (gripe alert!) I like challenging myself to make salads that don’t hinge on leaves that are only in season a very small fraction of the times of the year people insist you should eat them. (End gripe.) I used a butternut squash instead of a pumpkin because they seem to roast up in cubes better, and also because they’re a much easier shape for my little sherpa to hold in his lap (and only occasionally gnaw on) as we head home from the market. I added toasted butternut squash seeds because I love some crunch with my salads and do hope you know they toast up almost as delightfully as pumpkin seeds. Finally, I used black lentils because that’s what I had in my pantry and what’s prettier in the last week of October than a black and orange medley?

butternut peelings

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, November 5, 2009

moroccan-spiced spaghetti squash

spiced spaghetti squash

I keep promising you all some quick, easy recipes but sharing instead a mousse that requires at least five bowls and an electric mixer that must be washed down no less than three times, a quiche that has at least three different components, cauliflower that demands you cook each ingredient separately and a from-scratch doughnut recipe that entails reducing, rolling, freezing, frying and dipping. I have no doubt that you’re standing out there in front of your monitor, hands on hips, demanding answers. Except I don’t have any logic or rationale that will explain I choose to use my limited free minutes of time to make elaborate recipes and not, say, dinner, I only have this one peace offering today.

spaghetti squashscooping out seedsspaghetti squash innardsroasted

There’s a caveat, however. This is a ridiculously quick recipe if you have a microwave. We used to but don’t any longer so it still took over an hour, but it’s an hour that requires only a few minutes of hands-on time. Still, it is my favorite preparation of spaghetti squash, not only because it is delicious but because it approaches winter squash in my favorite way: by waking it up. I’ve never had a taste for squash recipes with cream or sugar or piles of cinnamon; I think the natural sweetness of squash is best contrasted with bolder ingredients, like garlic and tahini, jalapenos, olives and preserved lemons, chile-lime vinagrettes, hearty beans and ham or cayenne-dusted caramelized onions. I think you get the picture.

scraping the squash strands

Continued after the jump »


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