Archive for October 5th, 2011

my fair share

Welcome to 5772. It’s a great year so far and it’s only going to get better. I can feel it. If you didn’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah last week, I still wish you a shana tova u’metuka — a good and sweet new  year.

But, who wants just a sweet new year? As as a slight break with tradition, I also wish you a spicy year with  my favorite butternut squash soup. Sugar and spice and everything nice – that sounds like a great recipe for a new year.

Squash is one of the symbolic foods eaten during Rosh Hashana. So are carrots.

Over the holiday, I cooked and ate my fair share of both.

Squash mash with balsamic onions

I found this recipe in the Williams Sonoma Southwest cookbook when I was planning the menu for a Mexican/Tex-Mex dinner, complete with vegetarian empanadas, guacamole, and salpicon. The original recipe calls for whole squash, but it’s a lot easier with pre-cut and peeled squash chunks. I made enough for 10 as a side dish but this recipe is just a guideline – make as much as you want. If you have an immersion blender, this is the time to take it out. I unfortunately no longer have one: midway through this squash, mine hit its inevitable fate when the motor stripped the internal plastic gear. I had to complete the recipe by hand. And that’s why it’s called a “mash” rather than a purée.

– 3-4 lbs butternut squash chunks or 2 good sized butternut squashes

– 3 heads garlic

– 1 red onion

– 3T + 1T + 3T olive oil

– salt and pepper

– 3 T balsamic vinegar (or to taste)

Prep. Preheat oven to 375ºF. If using whole squashes, cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with the first 3T olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place, cut side up on a parchment-covered cookie sheet . If using pre-cut squash, toss in a big bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Slice the tops off of the garlic, drizzle with 1T olive oil and salt, and wrap in aluminum foil. Also, cut the onion into about 6 chunks and separate the layers. Mix onions with balsamic vinegar and the last 3T olive oil. Set aside.

Roast. Put the squash and garlic in the oven. Roast the squash until soft, about an hour  (sometimes more) for a whole squash and about 45 minutes for squash chunks. The garlic takes about 30-45 minutes. Check both every 15 minutes or so, especially the garlic because it’s pretty easy for it to burn.

Keep roasting. Around the time you take the garlic out of the oven, put the onions on a second parchment-covered cookie sheet and put them in oven. Roast for about 15 minutes until the onions start to brown and crisp up. If you can time it right, they should come out around the same time as the squash. But that’s a big if.

Purée (or mash!). Get your immersion blender ready. If you roasted the squash whole, scoop it out of the skin into a bowl. If you used pre-cut squash, also scoop it into a bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin and add it to the squash. Use your immersion blender to purée the squash and garlic. If your immersion blender decides to poop out just before using it, a potato masher works almost as well, but it won’t be as smooth.

Mix it up. Add the onions and any remaining balsamic and stir with the squash.

Eat. Serve warm.

Cumin-roasted carrots

I’m a little embarrassed to call these carrots a recipe,  but they’re just too good to not share. It’s all about the cumin.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss baby carrots with olive oil, salt, and cumin. You could also cut regular carrots into diagonal chunks – just be sure to  Be generous with the olive oil. And the cumin. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the carrots turn brown and a little wrinkly. Well, a lot wrinkly.

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