Showing posts with label Butternut Squash. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Butternut Squash. Show all posts


Winter Share

[Posted by Ruth]

Stone Gardens Farm offered a winter share pick up in January.  I hope plenty of people took advantage of it.  It was a great value and a great way to continue to support a local farm.  We got 5 nice sized butternut squash, 3 acorn squash, an enormous bag (5 lbs+) of carrots and a head of cabbage.  We also opted for a dozen eggs and a fresh chicken while we were at it.  As always, the quality was excellent.  The carrots are especially sweet.  We had some of them with a honey, ginger, grapefruit glaze but scarfed them up before I could get a picture.

I wanted to get going on using up some of the butternut squash right away and also wanted to make something a little different this time.  I suppose we can call it a gratin, since it contained goat cheese, although it was not as rich as gratins usually are.  The flavor was almost like a warm salad.  The maple syrup played up the sweetness of the squash while the sherry vinegar and the goat cheese gave it some more depth and kept it from being too sweet.  We had this is a main course and it was very satisfying.  It would also work well as a hearty side dish to simple roast chicken, etc.

Gratin of Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese

8 cups Butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes (this was 2 medium sized squash)
1/2 cup diced Onion
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T fresh Sage leaves, minced
3-4 T Maple Syrup
2 T Sherry vinegar 
1 cup coarsely chopped Walnuts
4-5 oz fresh Goat Cheese
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly butter a large casserole dish.  Cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened and translucent, but not browned.  Stir in the sage, maple syrup and vinegar cook for about 1 minute.  Toss the cubed squash with the onion mixture, walnuts, salt and pepper in the casserole until well blended.  Break the goat cheese into small pieces and gently mix into the squash mixture.  Dot the top with the 2 T butter, cover and bake for about 1 hour, until squash is cooked through.  Remove cover, raise heat to 375 and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Serve.


Fall CSA - Weeknight Ravioli

[Posted by Ruth]

Thanksgiving brought us a  week off from the weekly Fall CSA.  On the one hand, I found I really missed the weekly infusion of vegetables, on the other hand, it gave me a chance to get a handle on what was already in-house.  This is the first week in a while that I'm heading to the pickup with an empty fridge and a clear conscience.

With all the Thanksgiving preparations underway last week, I was in the mood for something different for dinner.  I was longing for Butternut Squash Ravioli but wondered if I was nuts for adding that project into the pre-holiday mix.  Turns out, it's totally doable on a weeknight, with a few cheats:

  • Roast the butternut squash over the weekend.  Just pierce the skin in a few places, place whole into a 350 degree oven and roast until soft; 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size and hardness of the squash.  Let cool a bit, peel, seed and puree.  Store the puree in the fridge until later
  • Buy wonton wrappers.  These have become readily available in most areas.
  • Get some helpers when putting the ravioli together.  I started out with my husband and older son helping but we had to dismiss my husband due to excessive finger licking.
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Leek and Pea Cream Sauce

1 Butternut Squash, prepared as above
1 16 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper to taste (don't skimp on the salt and pepper as there is a VERY small amount of filling in each ravioli and you want the flavor to come through)
1 or 2 packages of wonton wrappers
Olive oil and salt for pot of water

For the Sauce:
2 Leeks, white parts only, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
1 cup light cream
1 cup frozen peas
Freshly grated nutmeg, a small pinch
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

For the Ravioli. Bring a large pot of salted water with some olive oil in it to a simmer.  Do not bring to a full, rolling boil. Mix the pureed squash with the Ricotta, thyme, salt and pepper in a food processor.  If you are using a different sauce or just some browned butter you can also add some minced or roasted garlic. 

Keep the wonton wrappers loosely covered with a damp paper towel to prevent drying and have a cup of water handy.  To fill put a small amount of the squash filling on one half of the wonton wrapper, wet your finger and run it over the edges on one half and seal, folding diagonally.  After a few practice rounds, you'll be able to judge how much filling you can use before it begins to seep out.  Anywhere it seeps out will come open in the water.

As you put them together, cover the assembled ones with another damp paper towel and try to lay them out flat as they tend to stick together if piled up.  When they are all assembled, cover while you make the sauce.  (Or have your helpers assemble them while you make the sauce!)

 For the sauce:
In a heavy pan, cook the leeks and garlic in olive oil over medium/low heat until quite soft.  Add the cream, salt, pepper and peas, raise heat to medium/high and cook, stirring constantly until the peas are cooked and the cream has reduced and thickened a bit.  Add nutmeg, taste and adjust seasoning.

Place the Ravioli in the simmering water, stir very gently, raise heat just enough to keep it at the simmer and cook until just tender.  This will take 3-5 minutes during which you should watch them, and check one periodically.

Remove from water to a platter, top with sauce and the shaved cheese.  With help, this weeknight dinner was ready and on the table in just under 1 hour.
One squash made quite a lot of filling.  We decided to just fill one package of wonton wrappers, which made enough for 4 for dinner.  The leftover filling also made an interesting side dish the next day.


Week 22 - Catching Up

[Posted by Ruth]

Our older son is finished with his Master's Degree and came back from Texas last week so there hasn't been much time for posting.  To make up for it, here is a longish post with a couple of recipes.

This week was week 22, the last week of the regular farm share.  As you can see, we got a terrific assortment of goodies.  This has been a wonderful experience which will continue as we have also purchased a fall share which takes us into December and then will continue to use what we've frozen and put by and also focus on buying local produce.Without any reservations whatsoever, we will definitely sign up the CSA next year as well.  We've enjoyed it and have definitely saved a considerable amount of money as well.

Here are some things I've learned along the way:
  • The day the farm share arrives is the day to prep as much as possible.  Wash, spin and bag the greens right away they're much more likely to be used throughout the week.  A paper towel thrown in the bottom of the bag keeps them fresh longer.
  • Be realistic about what's actually going to be used during the week and blanch, roast, can, freeze the rest in the beginning.  Otherwise, the vegetables will wither and age while waiting in the fridge.  Ask me how I know.
  • Plan the meals around the vegetables.  For me this didn't mean eliminating meat but it did take a back seat and I think we've had a much healthier diet because of that.
  • Be open to new combinations.  I probably wouldn't have gone to the supermarket and bought turnip greens, hot peppers, eggs and goat cheese with the plan of combining them in an omelet for dinner, but the results were delicious.
We used the cabbage from last week as part of our son's first dinner home.  I love the name of this dish, which comes from the sounds it makes while cooking.

Bubble and Squeak
1 small head cabbage, cored and coarsely shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped, or 2 small leeks, white part only, finely sliced
4 -5 medium/large Potatoes, preferably a yellow or gold variety
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
Salt, pepper
1 T caraway seeds, optional

Scrub the potatoes and partially cook, leaving the skins on.  The quickest way to do this is to pierce them a couple time with a knife and microwave for about 4 minutes.  Let sit until cool and then cut into 1/2" cubes.

Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet and cook the onions or leaks over medium/low heat until softened.  This will take about 10 minutes for the onions or up to 20 minutes for the leeksDo not brown.

Add the cabbage, potatoes and salt and pepper, stir to distribute the butter and oil and cover.  Cook over medium, low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage has softened.  If it begins to stick, add some more butter or oil and lower the heat, if necessary.  When softened, raise the heat a bit , adjust the salt and pepper, add 1 T caraway seeds, if using, and cook, stirring often, until some of the potatoes brown a bit.  This works well  as a side dish for salmon, which is what we had, or pork chops, ham or corned beef.

Here, by the way, is the previous week's farm share.

For the last two weeks, I've been roasting and freezing the butternut squash for use later.  This turns out to be an incredibly easy process.

Easiest Roasted Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Poke a few holes in the squash but don't bother to peel it or cut the ends off.
Place in pan or on baking sheet and bake, uncovered until it's softened and the skin is beginning to brown.  Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the squash.
Remove from oven and while still fairly hot, slice in half.  Scoop out the seeds and strip the skin off.  The skin strips off very easily, which if you've ever peeled a raw butternut squash you'll love!

To freeze as a puree just process in a food processor and, when cool, bag in freezer bags.  If you leave it unseasoned, you'll have the option of using it for either sweet or savory dishes later on. 


Week 19 - Fall Colors

[Posted by Ruth]
It's been a classic Fall in New England kind of weekend; crisp air, patches of dark clouds scudding across bright blue sky, leaves swirling on the deck.  It gave me the urge to put things by, to clean out drawers, to make soup, to capture this short season before the next one closes in.  First, there was a lot of blanching and freezing to doCorn, green beans and pureed eggplant all packaged and frozen.  Then, a roasted fall vegetable soup.

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup

 For the roasted Vegetables:
3 Turnips - peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 Small butternut squash - peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 Bunch baby carrots - washed, scraped and the larger ones cut into 1/2 or 1/3s
1 T Olive oil
1 T Maple syrup - grade B for best flavor

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss vegetables with salt, olive oil and maple syrup in a shallow baking dish and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally, until vegetables are quite soft and a bit caramelized. 

Remove from oven and set aside.

For the soup:
Roasted vegetables from above
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T butter
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
2-4 cups water (add more or less, depending on desired consistency) 
Salt, Pepper to taste
1 T Maple syrup
4-6 dashes Tabasco Sauce

In heavy soup pot over low/medium heat, cook onion and thyme leaves in melted butter until onions are translucent and quite soft and thyme is fragrant.  Don't brown.  Turn off heat.  Add vegetables and 1 cup or more of the water and begin to puree with an immersion blender.  ( place in food processor or blender at this point)  Blend, adding water as needed until you have a smooth, thick soup.  Add maple syrup, Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste and heat over low/medium heat until heated through, taking care to not let it stick.  Serve with more fresh thyme, kale chips, croutons or crusty bread.  Makes about 8 cups.

We're reaching the end of the regular CSA and I'm definitely going to miss it.  Right now, we are getting terrific variety and quantity.  In a few weeks we'll switch over to the somewhat smaller Fall CSA which will take us into December.  After that it will be a bit of a free swim at Tale of Two Farm Shares.  We'll look for ways to creatively use what's in the freezer and pantry from the CSA, try to continue to buy local and cook some other things just for fun.  Hope you'll stay with us.