Sunday, October 26, 2008

We ate so well in San Francisco that when we returned home, we were inspired to try some new recipes we've wanted to make for a long time. With an abundance of local autumn squash to choose from, I right away made stuffed acorn squash and a beet salad topped with goat cheese and fresh mint. I served the meal with foccacia, baked with roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts, from our local coop. It was a fabulous, filling, and beautiful dinner.

The squash recipe comes from the Fall 2008 edition of a glossy grocery-store magazine called Real Food, published by Greenspring Media Group. Below is the recipe, adapted to my methods.

2 large acorn squash, cut in half through the "equator" and seeded
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into small bite-sized cubes
2 small to medium zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
shaved Parmesan

1. Wrap each squash half in tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until the meat of the squash is soft. Set aside to cool.

2. In a large frying pan, saute the chopped leeks in the olive oil for about 3-5 minutes over medium heat, until the leeks are soft and starting to brown.

3. Add the eggplant and cook for about 5 minutes over medium to high heat, stirring often. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add the tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes.

5. Add the milk, thyme, spices, and garlic. Cook until the mixture has softened and thickened (about 20 minutes or so).

6. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined.

7. Fill each squash half with the vegetable filling, and top each one with shaved Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through (about 10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, make the pepper sauce below.

2 large sweet red peppers, seeded and chopped into big pieces
3 cloves garlic, cut in half
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
salt, to taste

1. Place pepper pieces and garlic in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes until the peppers are soft.

2. Transfer the contents to a blender or food processor, add butter, and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste.

For color effect, serve the squash on white plates. Drizzle the pepper sauce generously over each piece. Serves 2-4 people.

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