Tag Archives: squash

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from fall to summer is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

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This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

Ratatouille 2

Ratatouille

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Roasted Pumpkin (Squash) Seeds

What to do with all of the seeds from your recently carved Jack-o-Lantern or roasted pumpkins and winter squash? Whatever you do, don’t throw them away! Save them for a super delicious (and nutritious) snack that will keep you out of your kids’ Halloween candy.

Seeds from any variety of winter squash or pumpkin can be roasted and eaten.

Scrape pumpkin/squash and remove pulp and seeds.

Separate seeds from pulp, discarding pulp. Rinse the seeds and pat dry with paper towels or a dishtowel. Place the dry seeds in a shallow pie plate or roasting pan.

Seeds can be cooked immediately, or allowed to further dry first. Drying the seeds longer will make them less chewy, more crisp. This will help if you tend to get things stuck in your teeth or dental work.

To dry, let seeds air dry in a shallow pan for several hours up to several days, stirring occasionally, to keep them from sticking to one another.

Stir in seasonings and roast seeds until they are a golden brown.

Roasted pumpkin, butternut squash and acorn squash seeds.

Roasted Delicata squash seeds (small yellow squash with green stripes). These are especially delicious. Very tender.

RECIPE:

Roasted Pumpkin or Squash Seeds

2 cups rinsed and dried pumpkin or winter squash seeds
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp hot (spicy) Hungarian paprika

Place seeds on a foil lined (I like non-stick foil) baking sheets. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter and stir in remaining seasonings. Pour over seeds in pan and stir until well coated.

Roast for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until seeds are golden brown. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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How to Roast Pumpkins and Winter Squash

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Winter squash is a wonderfully versatile vegetable, but can be intimidating if you are unfamiliar with cooking it.

To use winter squash in recipes, roasting is a great way to get tender squash with deep flavor without the excess water that comes from boiling.

A few of the varieties of winter squash that you can choose from (pictured):

  • pumpkins (smaller will be less stringy)
  • butternut squash
  • acorn squash
  • delicata squash

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  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Wash the outside of the squash to remove any dirt. Dry.

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  • Cut squash in half using a large sharp knife. If your butternut squash is really large, or you do not have a large knife, you can cut the butternut squash in half crosswise first (right at the point where the neck begins) and then in half lengthwise. The narrower neck of a butternut squash does not have any seeds, just the rounder base.
  • Remove seeds and stringy pulp from inside the squash. Save those seeds for roasting! They are the best part of the squash (Yes-you can roast squash seeds too, not just pumpkin seeds).

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  • Place squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush inside of squash halves with olive oil.

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  • Turn squash over, cut side down, on the baking sheet.

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  • Bake at 425°F for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your squash or pumpkin. Check softness by turning squash over and piercing with a fork. The squash flesh should be soft, but not mushy.

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  • Cool 10-15 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh out of shell. Puree or dice for use in recipes. Squash is easily frozen in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze in 1 cup portions (be sure to label your bags with how much of what kind of squash you put in them).

Recipes using roasted squash/pumpkins:

Squash Equivalents:

  • 1 pound peeled squash = 1 cup cooked, pureed
  • 2-1/2 pounds whole squash = about 2-3/4 to 3 cups pureed
  • 1 large (15 to 20 pounds) pumpkin = about 5 quarts (20 cups) of cooked, pureed pumpkin
  • 1 large butternut squash or 1 medium sugar/pie pumpkin = about 2-3 cups pureed

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Roasted Butternut Squash Gratin

Squash Gratin

I love butternut squash in the winter. Squash are great, inexpensive vegetables that can be cooked many different ways, both sweet and savory. If you want to pay a little more, you can also buy them pre-peeled and diced. But then you don’t get any of those great seeds for Roasting.

This gratin is a savory side dish that is really flavorful and goes great with roast chicken or beef.

RECIPE:

Squash Gratin

Roasted Butternut Squash Gratin

2 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp chicken bouillon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbs Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a 2-quart baking dish, combine squash cubes, garlic, onion, olive oil and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, cream, bouillon and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir into roasted squash. Combine panko bread crumbs and 2 Tbs Parmesan. Sprinkle over squash. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly. If topping is not browned, broil for 1-2 minutes before serving.

 

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Roasted Squash with Bacon & Gorgonzola

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Just a quick post this weekend about a delicious way to prepare winter squash. I am coming to the end of my stockpile of winter squash (procured in the fall at an Amish produce auction-thanks Cynthia!). I have loved being able to go into our “root cellar” – read cold garage- and pick out a good squash for dinner.

In this roasted, mashed squash dish, I loved how the mild flavor of a roasted butternut squash was complimented by the stronger taste of gorgonzola. The bacon and green onions make for some great texture.

This dish starts with a roasted butternut squash, but you could use any winter squash variety that mashes well (butternut, acorn, delicata, pumpkin; I probably wouldn’t use a spaghetti squash). For a “How to” on roasting squash, read How To Roast Winter Squash.

Mix your roasted, mashed squash with some crumbled gorgonzola cheese, cooked & crumbled bacon, sliced green onions and a little Parmesan. The cheeses and bacon made the squash plenty salty to me, but I did add just a little fresh ground pepper.

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I cooked mine in these cute shallow individual baking dishes that I never seem to have a use for. I only have two (a 20+ year old wedding gift that usually sits high in my cupboard), but knowing that my kids weren’t going to touch this, I got out my stepstool and hauled them down.

Jan2010 017-2 I divided one butternut squash between the two dishes, and it ended up being more than the two of us could eat as a side dish. It was hearty enough (and very rich) that this amount (with a salad on the side) would have made a perfect main course for two.

Bake in a moderate oven until squash is heated through, cheese has melted and edges just begin to brown.

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Recipe:

Roasted Squash with Bacon & Gorgonzola

1 large butternut squash (or other winter squash variety)
2 Tbs gorgonzola cheese
1 Tbs Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
2 Tbs cooked and crumbled bacon
1 Tbs thinly sliced green onions
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Roast squash (see How to Roast Winter Squash). Mash until smooth (an immersion blended works really well). Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into individual baking dishes, or one larger dish (about 8×8” or a 1-qt casserole dish).

Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, or until squash is heated through, cheese has melted and edges are golden brown.

Yield: 2 main dish or 4 side dish servings

 

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Pumpkin Quiche and a Thai Winter Squash Soup

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Fall vegetables and fruit have such wonderful deep colors! We recently purchased several bushels of squash, pumpkins and apples and it has been fun finding ways to use them. As colder weather sets in I love roasting squash and making good hearty soups that taste and smell fabulous and warm up the house all at the same time. For dinner one night this weekend I roasted a bunch of squash and pumpkins and made a pumpkin quiche and a creamy winter squash soup with a subtle Thai flavor.

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Pumpkin Quiche with Bacon & Asparagus

For the quiche, I used my standard quiche recipe, substituting one cup of mashed pumpkin for one cup of cream in the recipe. I used half of a small roasted sugar pumpkin (try roasting your own squash-it is wonderful!)

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DSC03897 I used an immersion blender to mix the remaining cup of cream with the pumpkin and then added that to the egg and cheese mixture (I used Swiss and Parmesan), tossed in some cooked, crumbled bacon, sautéed onions and garlic, and chopped asparagus and baked it in a pie crust. DSC03909

The resulting quiche had only a very mild pumpkin flavor, but it had a wonderful texture and color.

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This would be a great way to sneak extra veges into your family’s diet without them ever knowing! And it is so much healthier than the original recipe.

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Next time I want to try this with a butternut squash, which has a slightly stronger taste and even more brilliant color!

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DSC03959 Thai Winter Squash Soup

I loved this soup! I used four different varieties of winter squash for this: half of a small pumpkin, an acorn squash, a butternut squash and a delicata squash (the small yellow one with green stripes). Any combination of squash would work fine. In trying to come up with a recipe, I didn’t want an overly bland soup, but I also didn’t want to overpower the roasted squash flavor by using really strong flavors, or making it too spicy.

DSC03880 I started by roasting all of my squash and then coarsely chopping them (I took the lazy approach to chopping and scooped the cooked squash into a large 4C Pyrex measuring cup and then ran a knife through it to help pack down the squash to get a full 4 cups).

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In a stockpot, sauté some onions and garlic in coconut oil or olive oil.

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When they are soft, stir in the cooked, chopped squash and two chopped apples (they lend a nice sweetness to the soup).

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Thin mixture by adding 2 cups of chicken broth, one can of coconut milk and one cup of cream (for a wonderful richness). Cook until apples and squash are very soft. Use an immersion blender to create a smooth soup. Use can also use a blender, but you will have to work in batches. I added a mild Thai flavor to this soup by stirring in 2 tsp Thai red curry paste and 1 tsp fresh grated ginger. I also added a small amount of fresh thyme and some chopped Thai basil from our garden, now growing inside (chopped cilantro would also be great). Add additional chicken broth if soup is too thick.

DSC03959 We garnished this with some toasted pine nuts (sauté pine nuts in 1 Tbs coconut oil or butter until lightly browned).

RECIPES:

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Pumpkin Quiche with Bacon & Asparagus

Unbaked Single Pie Crust
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Chop bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan. Drain grease, reserving 1 Tbs of drippings in the pan. Sauté onion and garlic until softened, but not browned. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped asparagus. Cool slightly.

Mix mashed pumpkin and cream well (an immersion blender works great). Mix in eggs, cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir in cooled bacon/vegetable mixture.

Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until set. Cover edges of crust with foil or pie crust shield if they brown too quickly. Cool 10 minutes before slicing.

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Thai Winter Squash Soup

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2 Tbs coconut oil or butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 whole garlic cloves
4 cups cooked, mashed winter squash
(I used pumpkin, butternut, acorn and Delicata)
2 apples: peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/8 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbs chopped fresh Thai basil (or chopped cilantro-I would use more of the cilantro, probably ¼ cup)
Toasted pine nuts

Heat coconut oil (or butter) in a stockpot. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add cooked squash and apples. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and coconut milk and cook until apples are tender, about 10 minutes. (You could also use uncooked, diced squash and cook longer, until squash is very tender).

Blend soup to make a smooth puree (using an immersion blender or regular blender).

Add cream, salt, coriander, curry paste, ginger and thyme leaves. Cook 10-15 minutes, adding additional chicken broth if the soup is too thick.

Stir in Thai basil or cilantro just before serving.

Garnish with toasted pine nuts.

 

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