Category Archives: winter squash

What I’m planting- Week of June 1-7

Because of our trip, I got a little behind on planting. I didn’t want to start seeds before leaving because no one would be here to water them. And it took me about a week when we got home to get my bearings enough to plant. I was getting discouraged and thinking we’d just have to go without summer squash, winter squash, and green beans this year. Then I remembered that last year we didn’t even convert the backyard to a vegetable garden until Memorial Day weekend. That means I didn’t have anything in the ground until the beginning of June. And we got PLENTY of produce last year. In fact, I just checked my handy dandy spread sheet (more on that later) and I hit 184 lbs of produce from my garden last year. Not bad for a late start.

So on Wednesday, the stars aligned. Little man was at preschool and baby girl FINALLY took a good morning nap. This has been a rarity since returning from our vacation. I got a good chunk of time to work in the garden. Here are the seeds I planted:

photo (17)

I have grown Trombetta di Albenga (bottom left) for the past 3 years and they are AWESOME. The best zucchini out there. The flesh stays firm even when you sauté it. This squash lends itself well to being diced up and sauteed in butter, garlic and salt. It is seriously good. And very prolific too.

I’ve never grown Cocozelle squash but have bought them at the farmer’s market and really love the nuttiness of this zucchini. I hope it does well! I’ve never grown Dragon’s Tongue bush beans, either. I thought my little man might get a kick out of the beautiful beans and eat more of them. Turnips are one I’ve actually never grown, surprisingly enough. My friend over at East Sac Edible loves to grow them is always bragging about her awesome turnip tops that she uses in her miso soup. So this year I had to give them a try. You might be wondering what that ugly-looking squash is on the upper left. That Hubbard squash is quite the interesting winter squash. It’s not much to look at, but my aunt brought one over that she grew in her garden last Thanksgiving and it was SO yummy. She prepared it simply- steamed and then mushed up with butter. It was one of the best winter squashes I’d ever tried. And since I’ve never seen it at a farmer’s market, I decided to grow some myself!

I also planted 2 kabocha squash plants and 2 sugar pumpkin plants I bought at the farmer’s market. And, in the front yard raised beds I got some beets in the ground. Now if I can get out there to water often enough to get all these seeds to germinate I’ll be set. Fingers crossed.

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Roasted Delicata Squash Tarte

Let’s get back to a food post, shall we? 
I know I’ve deviated quite heavily from my original “food blog” posts, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love and appreciate good quality, delicious food. I’m for sure preparing simpler dishes these days, and definitely not throwing myself into complicated dessers like macarons, but I do still enjoy cooking. 
I’ve mentioned our CSA before. If you’re local to the bay area, we get our weekly produce from High Grounds Organics, and I absolutely love them. We’ve tried other CSAs, like Eating with the Seasons, Farm Fresh to You and Full Circle, but none of them have compared to the quality of our fruits and veggies from High Grounds. I’m planning on putting together a post about all of them, so that’s enough CSA comparison for now. Back to the food.
We’ve started getting more fall produce in our box these last few weeks. Yes, we still get tomatoes (yay California!), but we also get leafy greens, root vegetables and winter squash. 
Last week, we got two delicata squash. I wanted to change things up from my usual protocol- cut squash in half, dig out seeds and roast, probably blend into soup. Instead, I decided to make a tarte. It turned out lovely. Sweet and savory, warm and comforting, especially with a bowl of soup on a cool day. 
Ingredients:
– 1 delicata squash
– 1 sheet of puff pastry 
– olive oil
– salt
– a few sprigs of fresh rosemary 
– dried thyme
– a handful of shredded parmesan cheese
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off the ends of the delicata squash, cut it in half and peel it. Then slice it into 1/2 inch slices. 
2. Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Place delicata squash slices in dish. Sprinkle with salt, drizzle a little olive oil, and place rosemary on top. Bake for 30 minutes, until a sharp knife goes into the squash easily. 
3. Mold puff pastry into your buttered tarte pan (you’ll have to let it defrost on the counter for 10-15 minutes before it will be pliable enough to do this). Brush the puff pastry with olive oil, sprinkle parmesan cheese to the bottom, and transfer the roasted squash slices to the tarte. Sprinkle with dried thyme. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (still at 375 degrees). 

Delicata Squash Macaroni & Cheese

Once again I’ve let several weeks go by between posts. This must be a sign that it’s no longer summer, and I’m back to work. I’m loving my internship at the preschool, and I’m still cooking fairly often….just not taking the time to photograph and write about the food. I’m going to try to be better though!

This recipe was one I just had to post because Trevor loved it so much. A supposedly “healthy” version of mac and cheese, by Martha Stewart. I actually found the recipe on Kitchen Gadget Girl’s blog, as she planned on cooking this up for her family after receiving a squash in her CSA box a few weeks ago. Seeing as we belong to the same CSA (Two Small Farms…a great option if you’re looking for a local food source!), we also received squash in our box a few weeks ago. In fact, we’ve gotten some delicata squash, some butternut and a sugar pie pumpkin…and this is just the beginning of the fall/winter squash season (and I love it!). Winter squash are wonderful because they’re so versatile, and you can save them for a long time before using them if you’re overwhelmed with other more perishable veggies. Plus, they’re so wonderfully comforting and bring about a strong feeling that fall has finally arrived!

The “Healthy Macaroni and Cheese” recipe from Martha Stewart calls for 1 small butternut squash, but you can substitute any winter squash. Kabocha would be great if you have one, but I had delicata squash, so I decided that would do the trick. As I mentioned earlier, my husband Trevor loved this recipe and would never have guessed that there was squash in the mix so I guess this is a good thing if you’re cooking for a picky eater.

Ingredients for 6 servings:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp coarse salt, plus more for water
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound macaroni or shell pasta
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, seed and cut the squash into 1-inch pieces. Combine the squash, stock and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes). Spoon the squash into a food mill (or alternatively, smash with a fork), and puree the squash, milk and stock together. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, 3/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt. Stir in macaroni pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta and 2 Tbsp of Parmesan. Stir until well integrated.
3. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta mixture to dish. Mix breadcrumbs, remaining Parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over pasta.
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top- about 30 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Kabocha Squash & Beer Soup


A little while back, we received a nice-looking Kabocha squash in our CSA box. If you’ve never had one of these hardy winter squashes before, you’re missing out! They look like a green, kind of ugly pumpkin on the outside. But when you cut it open, you get a smooth orange flesh that’s delicious when roasted, steamed, or cut into cubes and boiled. You can find them at most farmer’s markets or natural grocery stores during the late fall and winter seasons. My preferred preparation method is to cut the squash in half, place it open side down on a cookie sheet and bake it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Once the kabocha is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon. You should get something like this:


I usually like to make soups with kabochas, because they have such a smooth flesh. Once roasted, the squash blends down to a bisque-like consistency, without the extra calories from heavy cream. With this particular soup, I decided to try something different- hence the beer component. My official taste tester called it, “the best kabocha squash soup I’ve ever had,” so I guess you could call that a “hit.”

Ingredients:

1 medium-sized kabocha squash
4 cups chicken broth (can substitute with veggie broth)
1/2 cup beer
1 tsp. ground cumin
leaves from 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and white pepper to taste
a few dollops of fromage blanc (can substitute with greek yogurt or sour cream)

Details:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, or a silicone mat. Cut the kabocha squash in half, scoop out seeds, and place (open-side down) on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the squash can easily be pierced by the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Scoop out flesh from squash into a soup pot. Cover the squash with the chicken broth and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Blend the squash mixture with a hand blender until it is very smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, use a food processor or regular blender, working in batches.
  3. Return the kabocha squash to the pot and add thyme leaves. Mix in beer and cumin. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook soup on medium heat for 5 more minutes.
  4. Serve soup with a dollop of fromage blanc and a slice of crusty rustic bread.