I realize that I have committed the cardinal sin of blogging: the disappearing act. And I present to you my most humble apology for being AWOL so long, with no explanation. In fact, I’m not going to bore you with the details of my explanation right now – or ever. I’ll just leave it at this: for the past week, at any given time, either hubby or I have been subsisting entirely on the following three things: (1) chicken soup; (2) saltine crackers; and (3) ginger ale. I really didn’t think anyone would be interested in reading about our meals. The recipes would go something like this: Open Campbell’s chicken soup. Heat on stove. Serve with saltines, ginger ale, and sympathy. Lie on couch and watch Bringing Up Baby (if you’re me) or Star Trek (if you’re hubby). There… you’re now caught up on all of our meals for the past week.
Now that I’m back to sitting upright and being able to stand the sight/smell/thought of food, though, I’m eating this squash and ginger soup to get me back to 100%. Ginger is miraculous when you have a tender tummy. I’ll admit that I didn’t always like ginger – other than the luridly pink pickled ginger that comes with Whole Foods sushi – but I’m a convert. I love it in baked goods, in teas, in stir-fries and, yes, in soups. And the best part: you don’t even need to have a sick tummy to enjoy this subtly spicy ginger-infused puree. It’s a wholesome, warming, wonderful winter soup. Yum.
Squash and Ginger Soup
1 large Butternut or Blue Hubbard squash (I used Blue Hubbard here)
1 yellow onion, large-diced
2 russet potatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (not the powdered stuff)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel and seed the squash: halve it very carefully, then scoop out the seeds, chop the squash into cubes and remove the skin. Scrub the potatoes and chop them into cubes of roughly equivalent size to the squash. Toss the squash and potatoes with olive oil and sea salt. Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and continue cooking for another 20 minutes.
- In a large soup pot, saute onions until translucent. Combine the roasted vegetables with the broth, water, fresh ginger, cilantro (if using) and rice vinegar. Simmer together for approximately 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Turn off the heat. Puree the soup (in batches, please, unless you want soup all over your ceiling, and trust me, you don’t – ask me about the Great Pesto-Tastrophe of 2005 if you want more details) in a blender, or in the pot with an immersion blender. Thin the soup with more broth if you prefer.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a garnish of cilantro or plain yogurt if desired.
Source: adapted from Love Soup, by Anna Thomas
Don’t be scared: this only looks like pond scum. I promise you, it tastes much better. (Not that I know what pond scum tastes like…)
I bought my copy of Anna Thomas’s Love Soup some months ago and simply haven’t had time to cook anything from it. This is sad, and not a reflection on Anna at all – most of her recipes are very easy and tempting. It’s just that my schedule has been so hectic that I feel like I’ve barely sat down since mid-October. If nothing else, that fact alone means I’m crying out for some homemade soup, which in my book is about the most comforting, lovely food imaginable. Of course, when I finally got the opportunity to make myself some soup, I found I had misplaced my copy of Love Soup. (It’s probably in my den buried under the 36 bottles of wine that hubby and I bought in California.) No worries, though – I knew exactly what kind of soup I wanted… green soup! Anna touts her green soup – which is actually a whole category of pureed soups with some sort of dark leafy green – as a perfect post-holiday cure-all. She’s not kidding. I made this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants version of Anna’s green soup, sans cookbook, and it was delicious – light but also warming, comforting, nutritious and tasty. The perfect January food, in my opinion.
2 Carnival squash, tops lopped off and seeds scooped out
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 carton (4 cups) vegetable broth
1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems trimmed out and leaves julienned
2-3 cups water
salt and pepper for seasoning
2 tablespoons Ricotta cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. After preparing the Carnival squash (that just happened to be the variety I had laying around the kitchen, left over from a farmers market visit – but you can substitute any hard winter squash), dress them with a generous drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash for 45 minutes, then remove from oven to cool.
- While squash is cooling, warm a glug of extra-virgin olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the minced shallots and sprinkle with salt; stir occasionally until softened and slightly caramelized (about 5-8 minutes).
- Trim the skin from the cooled Carnival squash and large-dice the squash flesh. Add to the softened shallots and stir briefly. Pour vegetable broth over squash and shallots and stir to deglaze the pot. Add julienned Swiss Chard leaves and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pot. Allow soup to cook for 30 minutes, until flavors meld and squash and greens are completely soft. Turn off heat and process the soup in a blender or food processor, or in the pot with an immersion blender (my choice) if you have one.
- Add water and cook soup on medium heat for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. The soup is good as-is, but if you would like a little creaminess, stir in up to 2 tablespoons of Ricotta cheese.
Source: Adapted from Anna Thomas’s Love Soup.
My market is overflowing with different varieties of squash lately. Yesterday, I went shopping for a boring old Butternut and came home with two Delicatas and a big, blue-green Hubbard instead. The Hubbard is destined to become soup (I just bought my copy of Anna Thomas’s Love Soup and squash soup is first on my list) but I bought the Delicatas just for play, and I knew I wanted to stuff one. With quinoa and chickpeas complementing the squash, this is a tasty and healthy dinner. If you add cheese to the top, as I have noted as an option below, you will find that the melted cheese will keep the quinoa moist underneath. If you skip the cheese, there will be a crispy quinoa crust over the top of the stuffing, which hubby really enjoyed.
This is a wonderful vegan (or vegetarian, if you add cheese) entree for fall, and I think it would be a spectacular addition to a vegetarian Thanksgiving table. Quinoa is a wonderful ancient American grain, with more protein than most other grains. It doesn’t hurt, either, that it’s incredibly pretty, cooking up as light and fluffy little spirals of goodness. Red quinoa is particularly gorgeous, and that’s what I used here – you can still see the red centers and the little white swirls.
See how pretty? Anyway, quinoa’s mild nutty flavor is a perfect foil for spices such as ancho chili powder and cumin, creamy beans, and sweet winter squash. Enjoy in good health!
Quinoa Stuffed Squash
1/2 cup quinoa
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 Delicata (or other small squash)
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup shredded cheddar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the quinoa according to the package directions. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add most of the chickpeas (reserving about 2 tablespoons), the chili powder, and the cumin, and stir to combine. Stir in salt to taste and drizzle olive oil over the top.
- Split the squash lengthwise, carefully, with the knife blade always pointing away from you. Clean the stringy inside (and reserve the seeds if desired; they’re great for roasting). Lay the squash, cut sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet or in a small roasting dish.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the cut sides of the squash and season with kosher salt. Add the reserved chickpeas to the bottom of the squash wells – about 1 tablespoon each. (If desired, sprinkle a little of the grated cheddar in as well – but not all of it.)
- Spoon the quinoa stuffing over the chickpeas, until it piles up a little. Drizzle olive oil over the top for moistness. If desired, sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the stuffing. (I skipped this and made these vegan, but I do think they would be delicious with a cheesy crust.)
- Bake 1 hour, drizzling a little extra olive oil over as needed (only if you skipped the cheese). Serve with green salad for a great, autumnal, vegetarian meal.
Source: Covered In Flour, inspired by Vegetarian Times
I absolutely love vegetables, and I’d be hard pressed to name one that I don’t like. And roasting vegetables is my absolute favorite way to cook them. Back in my law school days, when the only dinner I knew how to cook was chicken piccata, I’d always make roasted asparagus to go along with it. I never got tired of those crispy asparagus tops! Eventually, I branched out into roasting other vegetables. Carrots, for instance, are one of my favorite veggies to roast. And the day I first roasted brussels sprouts was the day that my husband discovered that he actually likes brussels sprouts!
Roasted vegetables are delicious because they are crispy in places, chewy in places, and have wonderful caramelized crusts – my favorite part. And the fact that they couldn’t be easier to make, well, that doesn’t hurt either. The secrets to perfect roasted vegetables are a high oven temperature – 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the vegetable – and plenty of salt. And, of course, enough time. The results are well worth your patience, though, especially when the weather starts getting cooler and the winter squashes appear at your market. For the perfect fall side dish, toss some winter squash and sweet potatoes in a little maple syrup and watch the autumn magic happen.
Roasted Fall Vegetables
1 white sweet potato, peeled and large-diced
1 garnet yam or jewel sweet potato, peeled and large-diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and large-diced
2 tablespoons (approx.) extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, a generous hand
2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Because these are very dense, fibrous root veggies and winter squashes, you need a higher temperature.
- After you have prepared the vegetables, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and maple syrup if using, on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Roast for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and quickly toss. Place veggies back in oven and roast for approximately 15-20 minutes more – keep an eye on the vegetables at this point. When they start getting a beautiful, caramelized crust and are fork-tender, they are ready.
Source: Covered In Flour, roasting method from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Yield: Serves 4
I first saw this on TheKitchn and knew immediately that I had to make it. First of all, who doesn’t love pattypan squash? They’re like little flying saucers! It had never occurred to me to bake eggs in them, but wow, what a genius idea! And the taste – oh, man, out of this world. (Pardon the joke. Sometimes I just can’t stop myself.) The sweet roasted squash, caramelized shallots, and creamy baked eggs combine to form a perfect union of flavors and textures. The folks over at TheKitchn are right; this would make an excellent vegetarian brunch entree. But we ate it for dinner and you know what? It was pretty darn good then, too.
Eggs Baked in Pattypan Squash
4 medium pattypan squashes
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
chives, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut tops off pattypans and scoop out the insides with a spoon; discard. Arrange pattypan shells and tops on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast 20-25 minutes.
- While pattypans are roasting, slice shallots into rings. In a nonstick pan, saute shallots with a litle olive oil and salt until golden. Turn off heat and allow shallots to sit.
- Remove pattypans from oven. Set tops aside, leaving shells on baking sheet. Spoon equal parts sauteed shallots into pattypan shells and top with one egg in each shell. (Be careful; the egg whites might overflow a little. It’s not a big deal, but if you know your eggs are too big to fit into the shells, open them over a bowl and allow some of the white to run into the bowl before adding the rest of the egg to the shell.)
- Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, if desired. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until whites are set. (The yolks will be about half-set at this time. If you want your yolks completely runny, like a soft-boiled egg, make it closer to 15 than 20.)
- Remove from oven; garnish with pattypan tops and, if desired, with chopped chives. Serve with toast points and green salad.
Yield: Serves 4 for brunch with sides, or 2 for dinner.
Source: Adapted from Sunset Magazine, originally seen on TheKitchn.