Staple recipe: Roasted winter squash puree


As I mentioned in my Coconut Lemongrass soup recipe, Mike and Lily grew a successful crop of Galeux d’Eysines–a beautiful, bumpy heirloom winter squash that looks like a warty pumpkin and tastes like a slice of squash heaven.

We love squash in our house–mashed,roasted,pureed or in a pumpkin pie–we will eat it! Part of our addiction is purely superficial–squash is gorgeous. It comes in greens, oranges, creamy white, yellow and in smooth,bumpy and ridged textures. I love the shape of butternut squash–it reminds me of a bell and of course, I adore the stringy insides of spaghetti squash–nature’s low-carb answer to pasta. Sweet sugar pumpkins are adorable in their perfectly rounded symmetry.

When I was doing a little research for this blog post, it occurred to me that I had no idea if squash was a fruit or a vegetable or something entirely different like a legume. Botanically speaking, squash is a fruit. In cooking, squash is used as a vegetable and it is a fantastic substitute for meat.

Lily helped with every part of this recipe–she helped plant, water, nuture and then reveled in the end result–a warty, orange beauty that would be transformed into delicious recipes for our family. I had Lily help me make the puree and taught her a little French along the way. Galeux d’Eysines translates to mean “Warts from Eysines (a town in France),” a detail Lily found endlessly fascinating. Lily now has a little French in her tool kit (as every fancy girl should) and I have the sweetest memory of my little girl Bonjouring, Oh La Laing and cooking with me. When we eat something prepared with this puree, we eat a little of Lily’s first French lesson–I can’t think of anything more delicious.

Try this staple recipe with any winter squash you like and then use the puree to make fabulous things like squash soup, pies, squash ravioli or squash souffles–stay tuned to Nana’s Fabulous Life for oodles of great recipes.

Buy locally–it is a way to be sustainable and help your local farmer continue to bring you beautiful, nutritious produce for years to come.

To make and freeze the puree you will need:
2 or more pounds of your favorite winter squash; olive oil; some brown sugar; parchment paper; baking sheets; a food processor or blender; quart sized-freezer bags

The work:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Select your squash, cut in half and remove the seeds and cut squash into chunks about a couple inches in size.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place squash, flesh side up on the paper. Drizzle with olive oil and then rub a small amount of brown sugar into the flesh of the squash.

3. Turn the squash face down and place in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until skin is easily pierced with a fork.

4. When squash is cool enough to handle, use a soup to scrape it into your food processor. Puree in batches until smooth.

5. Pour in 1 cup increments (I eyeball it out) into freezer bags. Label, date and freeze flat. Use in your favorite recipes (and soon to be faves!).

Came-home-from-vacation-and-there-was-nothing-to-eat Taco Salad

After our fabulous mini-break last week, the last thing I felt like doing was going to the grocery store. I was also sick of take-out and my wallet was sick of paying for a meals out. We always seem to have something rattling around in the freezer and pantry. And this time of year, the garden typically has something to offer.


I went foraging through the reserves and found all the perfect ingredients for this fantastic (and meatless!) taco salad. The best part–you can make this salad with what you have–toss new stuff in or leave out items you don’t have.

Ingredients:
Lettuce (we had some romaine in the fridge and some red leaf in the garden), torn in bite size pieces
Cucumber, sliced
Sweet onion (a great cool, dark place staple), chopped
Red pepper (i had a some bit of red pepper that I chopped and froze before we left.
I just took it out of the freezer and thawed it before adding to the salad)
Shredded cheddar (I keep blocks of cheese in the fridge and shred as I need it. keeps me from eating too much!)
Black olives
Morning Star Meal Starter Crumbles (from the freezer. greatest, easiest item ever)
Envelope of taco seasoning
Can of fat-free refried beans
Pico de Gallo or salsa
Tortilla chips
Your favorite vinaigrette (I used Good Seasons Italian)

Directions:
Place lettuce on large dinner plate, leaving a hole in the center (like making a wreath of lettuce).

Sprinkle all veggies, cheese and black olives on top of lettuce. Warm up refried beans. Prepare MS Crumbles according to package directions (swirl of olive oil in a pan, add the crumbles). Then add taco seasoning with water to Crumbles.

Put a scoop of refried beans in the center of your lettuce wreath, add a scoop of MS Crumbles on top, followed by some pico de gallo and garnish with a tortilla chip. Serve with extra tortilla chips and salad dressing on the side.

And enjoy. It rocks and tastes way better than take out!