Delicata Squash with Red Onion and Za’atar

One of my favorite fall vegetables is delicata squash. If you get them quickly enough after harvest you can cook them without peeling. The flavor is milder than butternut squash with a bit of earthiness thrown in. The shape is like a fat sausage or salami. The center of the squash is filled with pulp and seeds like a butternut or acorn squash.

I paired it with red onions and za’atar, a spice blend used in Middle Eastern cooking consisting of sumac, thyme, white sesame seeds and salt. On a whim I sprinkled a bit of vinegar on just before serving.

Delicata Squash with Red Onion and Za’atar
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, halved length-wise, peeled, and half moon
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 lbs. delicata squash – peeled, scooped to remove seeds, and cut into 1/4″ half moons
  • 2 tsp. za’atar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the onions and toss them in the oil until coated. Distribute the squash over the onions and then sprinkle the squash with the za’atar. Add the water, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Give the pan a shake or two to redistribute the squash, exposing areas that may have been previously covered by another piece of squash. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Test a piece of squash with a fork; if the fork pierces the squash with just a bit of give then you are ready to finish the dish. If the fork doesn’t easily pierce the squash then recover and cook for another few minutes then test again.
  4. To finish the dish turn the heat up to high and set aside the cover. Gently toss the onions and squash together with tongs. Once the water has evaporated sprinkle the squash and onions with the vinegar. Plate and serve.

Notes:
I have a vegetable peeler with a serrated edge which worked well on this squash.

You’ll want a pan with a lid for this dish as the squash basically steams over the onions. I used a Pampered Chef straight-sided saute pan that we’ve had for ~15 years.

A number of recipes I looked at for inspiration suggested substituting butternut squash for delicata. You may need to cook a bit longer.

Advertisements

Noodle Salad

This recipe is inspired by some “Asian” noodle salad from a local market’s prepared food section. I grab it when I swing by for their house-made frozen cod cakes. I did the online search for “Asian” noodle salad, mixed and matched a few things and came up with this.

It seemed to go over well and the leftovers were as good, if not a bit better, after a couple of days rest in the fridge.

Noodle Salad
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes

Continue reading

Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce

We returned from a short vacation Friday night and Saturday was filled with all the errands except for grocery shopping. As a dinner time approached I turned to the cupboard to see what kind of thing I could cobble together.

Lentils and chickpeas provide a bit of protein in a vegetarian dish. We served it with some grated Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce
Servings: 4+
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Continue reading

Black Bean Summer Squash Taco Filling

Desperation can be a source of inspiration in cooking. When an unexpected guest was also a vegetarian I threw together something I had on hand and suddenly we had a tasty alternative to Turkey Tacos I typically make.

Not planning on having tacos tonight? This works equally as well as a side dish.

Black Bean Summer Squash Taco Filling
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 yellow summer squashes, cut into 1/4″ dice (see notes)
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, crushed
  • black pepper to taste, extra salt for cooking

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium for about 1 minute. Add the onions and bell pepper, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat in the oil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirrings once or twice.
  2. Add the jalapeno and garlic, stirring them into the carrot and bell pepper. Cook until fragrant, which should only take 30 second to a minute. Transfer the onions, peppers and garlic to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove, add the remaining oil and increase the heat to high. When the oil is just beginning to smoke add the summer squash and a generous sprinkle of salt. Spread the squash along the bottom of the skillet and cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes. Toss the pan to redistribute the squash and cook another minute.
  4. Return the onion mixture to the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.

Notes:
Your 3 summer squashes should be 6-8″ long and no more than 2-2.5″ in diameter. I prep them removing the ends and cutting them lengthwise into quarters. I then remove the layer of seeds, cut the remaining squash flesh into 1/4″ wide strips and, finally, cutting them into 1/4″ cubes.

Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt sauce

I often wants a bit of a sauce or “dip” to go with grilled chicken. This week I saw a recipe that marinated chicken pieces in a yogurt mixture before grilling them. I decided to use the yogurt as the base for a dip instead. This one came out a fantastic shade of pink.

Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt sauce
Servings: 2 cups
Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. roasted red peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. Za’atar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Process the peppers for 30 seconds in a food processor. Transfer to a sieve and allow to drain for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Return the drain peppers to the food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process for another 30 seconds until well combined.
  3. Taste for flavor and adjust salt if needed.

Notes:
I used jarred roasted peppers in the original recipe however DIY roasted red peppers are pretty easy if you have the peppers on hand.

Farro with Pesto, Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper

The idea for this recipe came from one of the recipe mailing lists to which I subscribe. I liked the concept of pesto with farro. I changed up the add-ins and served this warm.

Results were mixed. One person felt it didn’t need the pesto, another adored the pesto. Most just gobbled it up. 🙂

Farro with Pesto, Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups uncooked pearled farro
  • 2 zucchinis (see directions for prep)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and 1/2″ dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 8 oz. prepared basil pesto
  • 4 oz. pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 oz. fresh basil, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a 4-quart sauce pan. Add the salt and bay leaves; stir until salt is dissolved. Add the farro and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes.
  2. While the farro cooks prep the zucchini. Remove the stem end and then cut into quarters lengthwise. Remove the seeds from the center of each quarter and then slice into 1/2″ wedges. Combine with peppers and set aside.
  3. When farro is ready drain it and transfer to a large bowl. Mix the zucchini and pepper mixture into the farro. Gently fold the pesto and half of the pine nuts into the mix.
  4. Just before serving garnish with the remaining pine nuts and fresh basil.

Notes:
Pearled farro will cook faster than the semi-pearled variety, which is what I normally use. My regular brand (Bob’s Red Mill) was out of stock at the local megamart where I normally pick it up. Luckily I found another brand close at hand.

The original recipe that sparked my recipe can be found at campbells.com

Skillet Asparagus

Healthy Appetite Food Meal Stalk Green Asparagus

My mom’s favorite vegetable is asparagus. Between mother’s day and her May birthday we have plenty of chances to share it with her. I was a bit tired of the usual roasted asparagus we make though so I went for something quicker.

Skillet Asparagus
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 11-15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • zest from a lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. You can either snap the asparagus stalks one at a time or just cut off the bottom 2″ like I do. Rinse the stalks and set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Heat until the butter is melted and add the asparagus. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss the asparagus to coat it in butter and then cover the dish. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover, toss the asparagus and cook for another 2-3 minutes until tender. Transfer asparagus to a platter.
  4. Turn off the heat under the skillet. Add the lemon juice to the skillet and scrap up any browned bits on the button of the skillet. Swirl the browned bits in the lemon juice and pour it over the plated asparagus. Garnish with the lemon zest and serve.

Notes:
Skinny asparagus will cook faster than the thicker ones. Choose a bunch with all similar thicknesses throughout if possible.