Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Using the butternut squash: Wheat berry salad with butternut squash, pecans, cranberries, and feta

I have some soft white winter wheat berries in the pantry, so I thought I'd try a variation on the couscous and butternut squash salad from last week, including some pecans and dried cranberries as well.

I first roasted the squash with some onion slices in a 400 degree oven for an hour. It ends up a bit mushy, so cook yours less if you'd prefer your cubes to be a bit firmer.

During this time, I also cooked the wheat berries. I first went through the wheat berries to pull out any stems, then rinsed them. I cooked 1.5 cups of wheat berries in 4.5 cups of water (1:3 ratio of wheat berries to water or other cooking liquid for the soft white winter wheat; I wanted to use some butternut squash stock instead of water, but it was cooking at the same time as the wheat berries and I didn't want to wait longer to have dinner ready). Once the wheat berries come to a boil, reduce them to a simmer and cook covered for 45 minutes. When they are done, drain off any excess liquid.

I mixed the pecans, dried cranberries, wheat berries, cooked squash, and some cubed feta. When I tasted it, it wasn't quite right. Husband suggested acid. I added two tablespoons of cider vinegar, which really improved the salad.

I served it warm with dinner, then ate it cold with lunches. It worked well both ways.

Husband says he prefers the couscous version.

For those of you counting, I'm now down to 6 butternut squash in the pantry. I roasted two butternut squash while making this salad. I used one for the salad, and I made the other into butternut squash soup by blending the cooked squash with the stock that I made with the squash rinds.

I will be taking a break from cooking butternut squash for a few days now, as I eat the wheat berry salad and soup for lunches.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Oven-baked shoestring fries

Husband made over-baked shoestring fries the other night. He says that the key to the fries is cutting them thinly and evenly enough.

Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and spices; this time he added chipotle powder and garlic powder (husband points out that you should not use actual garlic, because it burns quickly).
Bake in a 400-425 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so.
They're done when they reach the level of browned crunchiness that you like. Husband points out that it's a balancing act between how crispy they get and how burned they can get, so you might want to check them every few minutes near the end.
Drain on paper towels. Salt before serving.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Using the butternut squash: butternut squash and goat cheese dip

I saw this recipe for butternut squash and goat cheese dip a few weeks ago. Given my desire to use the butternut squash in the pantry, I decided to try it.

I roasted a small butternut squash.
Then mixed it with half of an 11 oz log of goat cheese. The recipe called for the full log, but it seemed like a lot of cheese.
Instead of the pita recommended in the recipe, I used thin crackers.
I liked it; husband was not a fan. I'm also learning that blending butternut squash with dairy products leads to food that has the same color as Cheese Whiz.

For those of you playing along at home: I now have 8 butternut squash left in the pantry.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Salad bar: the best cole slaw ever, kitchen-sink salad, and arugula with watermelon radish and burrata

I call this first salad "the best cole slaw ever." I cut a peeled kohlrabi into matchsticks, a watermelon radish into thin wedges, some red cabbage into thin slices, and an apple (skin still on) into small slices. The dressing was made from 3/4 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and 2 Tbsp of sugar, whisked together. I seasoned the slaw with celery seeds, salt and pepper.
We had it with scallops and fish, and it was excellent. I had some leftover, to which I added some walnuts to have for lunch the next day. I think this slaw was the best ever because of the variety of flavors from the fresh ingredients (all from the farm boxes), instead of being mostly cabbage.

I call this second salad "the kitchen-sink salad" because I put in everything but. It had mixed greens, watermelon radishes, hearts of palm (to use a can that's been sitting in my pantry for a while), marinated mushrooms (to use some leftovers from the fridge), pepitas, and some tomato. I dressed it simply with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Finally, a salad with baby arugula, thin wedges of watermelon radish, and some chopped burrata, dressed with olive oil and salt. I loved this salad; husband was okay with it but didn't love it as much as I did.

Perhaps I should have titled this post, "Using the watermelon radishes," as each of the salad had them. I still have many bags of watermelon radishes in the fridge to use.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Walnut and lentil tacos

I tried this recipe for walnut and lentil tacos from Food52, partly because it seemed like a good way to use some cabbage.
I think I used too many lentils, as I measured dry, not cooked, which made the mixture a bit mealier than it probably would have been. I enjoyed the tacos, however; the husband a bit less so. He did like the cabbage slaw that topped them though. I'd make the slaw on its own.
We had leftovers, which I used to make taco salads for a couple of my lunches.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's in the box, 3/25/15 edition

Despite today's posting with a good recipe for soup made from purple top turnips, I was not all that happy to see more turnips in yesterday's box. I'm ready for spring and summer vegetables, not the same winter roots that have been coming for months. I'm also ready for the piles of snow to be finally gone, which is also needed before the spring and summer vegetables will be able to grow. Today's rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully help with some snow melt.
In addition to the purple top turnips, yesterday's box had popcorn (I'm not even going to count how many ears of popcorn I now have in the pantry), apples, potatoes, daikon radish, honey, a seeded wheat bread, pea tendrils, and a small bag of arugula (which has already been eaten and was excellent).

Turnip soup with hazelnuts from Chef Ana Sortun

A few months ago, the Siena Farms newsletter included a recipe for turnip soup with hazelnuts from Ana Sortun (Farmer Chris' wife and the chef at Oleana). Now that I've tried it, I have two ways that husband and I don't mind eating purple top turnips. (The other is turnip cakes.) Even better, this recipe uses three pounds of purple top turnips, which uses any backlog rather quickly.

The recipe says that it serves four, but those would be huge portions. I suppose if you weren't having anything else, it would be four servings, but you can get six or more portions as a meal starter or as an accompaniment to salad or a sandwich.

The recipe is quoted directly from the newsletter, except where I note differences.
Turnip soup with hazelnuts
Chef Ana Sortun


6 tablespoons unsalted butter (note: I think this amount could be halved, if you want it less rich)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 pounds turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly roasted and skinned (note: the skins just leave speckles in your soup after blending)
6 cups veggie broth (note: the recipe had originally called for chicken stock)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (note: I use more; I like nutmeg)

In a large heavy stockpot or casserole, melt the butter until it foams. When the foam subsides, add the onions and cook over moderate heat until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the turnips, parsnips and hazelnuts and stir to coat with the butter. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes.
(My note: After cooking for 20 minutes, the vegetables will have thrown some liquid.)
Stir in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until perfectly smooth. Return the soup to the pot and season with salt and the nutmeg. 
My note: the recipe suggested garnishing with bacon or crispy kale. I didn't do either. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Using the butternut squash: Risotto

I made this Food52 recipe for butternut squash risotto with saffron using honeynut squash, but it would be a fine way to use some butternut squash as well.
I cubed and cooked the squash. (Go to the recipe for the amounts of each ingredient.)
Then started to make the risotto. First I cooked the onion.
Then I added the rice...
Then the saffron broth...
...and the veggie stock, then the cooked squash.
It turned out very well.
I ate it as a main dish; husband had it as a side dish. Both of us enjoyed it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Using the butternut squash: Butternut squash with Israeli couscous and feta

I had a box of Israeli couscous, a gift from a friend (each year for Christmas, she gives me a bag of her favorite items from Trader Joe's). I decided to use it with some butternut squash.

I roasted a butternut squash with slices of sweet onion in a 400 degree oven for about 50 minutes.
The squash was very soft, but I wanted the onions to cook more.
As per the instructions on the box, I toasted the couscous for 5 minutes before adding liquid.
I used butternut squash stock to cook the couscous instead of water. Once cooked, I added the couscous to the roasted butternut squash and onions in a large bowl...
...then mixed them together.
I added some feta cubes too.
It was good warm (right after it was done), at room temperature (because husband's meat was not yet ready), and cold (as leftovers).

It could have used a bit more texture, as everything was soft, perhaps with the addition of some toasted almonds, hazelnuts, or pepitas. Dried cranberries would also go well with the mix, with or without the nuts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Using the butternut squash: Butternut squash pita pizza

In the process of trying to use the butternut squash backlog, I had some leftover roasted butternut squash and mushrooms. I decided to make them into a pita pizza.

I started with a layer of the roasted butternut squash, which I lightly mashed on to the pita. Then I put on the roasted mushrooms (cutting the whole mushrooms into quarters) and dollops of ricotta. Finally, I covered the pizza with some shredded mozzarella.
I baked it in a 400 degree oven until the cheese was melted, which took about 12 minutes.
I really enjoyed the butternut squash as the sauce base for the pizza. However, I'm the only one in the family who thinks that. No one tried the pita pizza with me.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Using the butternut squash: Butternut squash pasta sauce

I bought some butternut squash cappellacci (large tortellini) from Tuscan Kitchen in Salem, NH. (I probably should have tried to make my own with all of the butternut squash that I'm trying to use....)

I decided to make a butternut squash sauce for them. I roasted a butternut squash, then pureed some of the cooked cubes with butternut squash stock and a bit of light cream.

It tasted great, but ended up the color of cheese whiz, which was not very appealing.
I took a picture of the squash with the sauce. It's odd to me that the orange squash turned this color. I'm thinking it might be the cream, but I used very little.
If you don't mind the color, it's worth a try. I think it would work well with a non-filled pasta as well. You can make the sauce the consistency you'd like by blending in more or less stock and/or cream.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Salad bar: Micro greens, citrus salad

Over the past month or so, we've been getting bags of micro greens in the weekly boxes. I've used them to make a salad with pepitas and blueberries...
...and a salad with tomatoes and blue cheese.

I made a salad with some roasted sweet potatoes and beets with walnuts over some of the greens. I had never tried sweet potatoes in a salad before; I would do it again (if I hadn't just finished off all of the sweet potatoes in my pantry for the sweet potato gratin).

I based this salad on this recipe for citrus salad with candied ginger, but didn't use the candied ginger, as husband is not a fan. I used more citrus zest than the recipe had called for to add more flavor, given the skipped ginger. I used a pumelo, blood oranges, a sumo orange, and some clementines.
Peeling the pumelo was a real project. Make sure to leave plenty of time to do it.
Here's the completed salad. For the almonds in the recipe, I used some rosemary marcona almonds from Trader Joe's that I had in my pantry.

Finally, here's what the beet gnocchi from the Balaboosta cookbook look like if you use golden beets instead of red ones: