Tag Archives: butternut squash

Kale and Farro Soup

kale squash farro tastefoodxx

 ~ Kale and Farro Soup ~

I don’t usually make New Years resolutions, but if I did, it would be to get my kids to eat more kale. Do you think they’ll notice the kale in this stew?

January is not only bowl-month in our home, it’s kale month. Bowls of nourishing soups and stews are perfect for the cold weather and a comforting alternative to the highfalutin presentations of Christmas past. And kale is everywhere right now, flamboyantly in season touting deeply colored emphatically shaped leaves, towering in piles on market shelves and tables. Good timing is all I have to say. Kale is a superfood, packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, and an excellent way to jump start the new year in good health. And why hold back with just one nutritious ingredient? Kale teams up with farro, a nutty ancient grain packed with protein and fiber and chunks of  vitamin-rich butternut squash in this healthy, hearty soup.

Kale and Farro Soup

Either curly green or lacinato kale may be used for the soup. Remove tough ribs from leaves before chopping.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup farro
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional stock as necessary
2 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1  (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1  (2-inch) chunk of rind of Parmigiano cheese
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped green kale
Grated Parmigiano cheese

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add farro and stir to coat. Add chicken stock, squash, tomatoes, cheese chunk, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender and farro is cooked, about 30 minutes. (Add more stock to desired consistency if soup is too thick.) Taste for seasoning. Stir in kale leaves; simmer until kale brightens in color and just wilts, about one minute. Discard Parmigiano rind. Ladle into bowls and grate cheese over the soup. Serve immediately.

More bowl food? Try these recipes:
Lentil Soup from TasteFood
White Bean, Chicken, Sausage Stew from the Kitchn
Chicken, Farro, Shiitake Soup from TasteFood
Roasted Root Vegetable Bisque from Eat Live Run
Black Bean, Sausage, Butternut Squash Chili from TasteFood

 

Spicy Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) Soup

~ Spicy Butternut Squash Soup ~

One of my favorite ways to eat butternut squash is roasted then pureed in a soup. When the squash roasts, its flesh morphs into a squidgy paste, intensifying its nutty flavor and coaxing out its natural sugars. I pair it with fall fruit such as apple, pear or quince and balance the sweetness with a savory stock and a kick of spice and heat. While the soup is thick, it’s light in ingredients with no added cream, relying on the squash for body. This recipe includes apples and chicken stock, and for spice I’ve added a little southwestern flair with cumin, cayenne and cilantro. It’s a vibrant start to any meal, including Thanksgiving dinner. If you are entertaining a crowd, consider small servings in little cups or demi-tasse as an hors d’oeuvre. Pumpkin may be substituted for the squash – I prefer hokkaido pumpkins.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Roasting the squash coaxes out its natural sugars and gives the best flavor to the soup. Serves 4 to 6.

1 small butternut squash, about 2 pounds
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Lightly brush the exposed flesh with olive oil. Place, cut-side-down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until squash is fork tender, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add apple, cumin, coriander and cayenne.  Cook, stirring until fragrant, 1 minute. Add squash and chicken stock. (There should be just enough stock to cover the squash and apples. Add additional stock as necessary). Simmer, covered, until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Carefully puree soup in batches in a food processor (or with an immersion blender). Return to pot. The soup should be thick. Thin it to desired consistency with apple cider. Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat and taste for seasoning. Serve warm with fresh cilantro leaves.

Lambs + Clams Round 2: Smoky Clam, Chorizo and Butternut Squash Stew with Saffron Aioli and Fried Oyster Croutons

Lambs + Clams Contest – Round 2
Ingredient Challenge: Rappahannock River Oysters and Clams

It’s not often, er, ever, that I receive a box of East coast shellfish delivered to my California front door – that is until 10 days ago when a special delivery box arrived with 4 dozen pristine oysters and middle neck clams from Rappahannock River Oysters in Virgina. They were as fresh as could be, cold and moist, smelling of seaweed and sand. A taste of the East lay at my feet. This was simply not fair.

~
While I now live in California, and before that called Europe my home, I am a New Englander at heart. And I miss it. This is evident by how I gravitate to environments and sensations that remind me of a place I haven’t called home since 1991. I crave 4 distinct seasons, and reminisce wintry blizzards, humid summers, and the smell of fallen leaves with chimney smoke hanging in the air. I seek vignettes suspiciously similar to a traditional New England setting, old structures and neighborhoods steeped in history, creaking with wood, lined with cobblestones. And the sea must never be far away. Nothing epitomizes New England to me more than the seashore – especially on a chilly foggy day laden with mist, with the cries of seagulls and the clanging of buoys punctuating the sound of the wind and waves.

So there I was, a week ago, with 2 nets of memories before me in the form of shellfish, still moist from their beds, gritty with sand, smelling of brine and salt. It transported me to New England, and I knew that I would have to do them justice. I headed to my kitchen – the heart of our family home and life, no matter the coast or the country. The place where I go to recreate memories, carry on traditions and evoke sensations of time and place.

The oysters and clams were ridiculously fresh, and I knew I had to get to work fast. (OK, I admit a few oysters were instantly slurped straight up with a squeeze of lemon and dash of Tabasco. Hey, you would’ve too). I thought about how to create one recipe showcasing both oysters and clams, drawing inspiration from the East coast, while embracing my adopted West coast sensibilities – with a touch of the Mediterranean. I am a fan of chowders and cioppinos, and I decided on a stew, with layers of flavor and texture. It’s autumn after all, the season of layers – layers of clothing, layers of bedding and layers of nourishing, sating ingredients in our meals.

Each ingredient would stand out yet complement the whole of the stew, with a balance of sweet, smoke, heat and brine. I addressed each ingredient separately before uniting them, taking care to prevent a muddle. I browned the chorizo slices first for color and flavor. They would be added to the stew in the end, preventing softening and loss color by overcooking in the soup. Their legacy, the flavorful oil, remained in the pot infusing the stew with heat and smoke. I sautéed planks of sweet butternut squash in the oil. This step ensured the squash were thoroughly cooked and slightly caramelized. The chunks would be added in the end, like the chorizo, avoiding excessive mushiness and preserving their brilliant saffron color. Roasting the red pepper coaxed out its natural sugars and imparted another layer of smoky flavor to the soup. The clams cooked in the stew, opening and releasing their briny juices in the stock. Finally, I fried the oysters, first soaked in buttermilk and Sriracha, then rolled in cornmeal, ensuring super-crispy results with a playful bite. They would garnish the stew as a riff on croutons one might add to a Mediterranean seafood stew with a definite nod to the American south. A spoonful of saffron scented aioli added a creamy finish to the soup with the kick of heat.


Smoky Clam, Chorizo and Butternut Squash Stew with Saffron Aioli and Fried Oysters Croutons

Serves 4.

Aioli:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce

Oyster Croutons:
16 shucked oysters
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Stew:
Extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 small butternut squash, cut in chunks, approximately 1 1/2-inch square, 1/2-inch thick
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 sweet red pepper, roasted, peeled, cut in 1/4 inch julienne
2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
12 to 16 middle neck clams
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Vegetable oil for frying
Fresh chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish

For the aioli:
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

For the oysters:
Place the oysters in a small bowl. Whisk buttermilk and Sriracha in a separate bowl. Pour over the oysters to cover and set aside. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper together in another bowl and set aside.

For the stew:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices, in batches, and brown on both sides, turning once. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the squash, in batches, to the skillet and pan fry until golden on both sides, turning once. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil from the pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and onion. Sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper, garlic, paprika and red chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Add tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until somewhat thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Add clams. Cover pot and cook, shaking occasionally, until clam shells open, about 10 minutes. (Discard any unopened clam shells). Add salt to desired taste.

While the stew is simmering, fill a large heavy saucepan with 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep fry thermometer reads 350 F. Remove the oysters from the buttermilk, shaking off any excess liquid. Dredge in cornflour. Fry in batches, without overcrowding, until golden and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel

Ladle the stew into warm serving bowls. Top each bowl with 4 oysters. Spoon a little saffron aioli into the center of the soup. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

What is Lambs + Clams?
A contest hosted by the Charleston Food and Wine Festival where 8 food bloggers create a recipe in 4 monthly contests leading up to the festival to be held in February ’13. Each contest will spotlight either lamb, clams or oysters supplied by Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm and Travis Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters. Each month a winning recipe will be selected by a panel of judges and fan votes (which do indeed count) on the Festival’s facebook page. The winner is awarded an all-expense paid trip to the Festival. I encourage you to visit the facebook page and cast your vote!

 

Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup

~ Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup with Parmigiano ~

Autumn in a bowl sums up this nourishing soup. Sweet butternut squash and sturdy kale team up with farro, an ancient Italian wheat grain, known as spelt in English. Farro is a hulled wheat, which means it retains its husk during harvest. The husk serves as a protective cloak, preserving nutrients and protecting the kernel from insects and pollutants, which permits the grower to avoid pesticides. Rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins, farro has a satisfying nutty flavor which adds heft with health to soups and stews.  The final touch in this warming soup is a chunk of Parmigiano cheese, which is nestled into the simmering stock, breaking down and releasing umami flavor while thickening the soup.

Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup

Barley may be substituted for the farro. Serves 6-8.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed, green parts discarded, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup farro
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional stock as necessary
1 – 14 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1  2-inch chunk of rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups shredded kale leave
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add leek, garlic, onion and celery. Sauté 2 minutes. Add butternut squash and farro. Sauté one minute. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, cheese chunk, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender and farro is cooked, about 30 minutes. (Add more stock to desired consistency if soup is too thick.) Taste for seasoning. Stir in kale leaves; simmer until kale brightens in color and just wilts, about one minute. Ladle into bowls and grate cheese over the soup. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pecan Roulade

The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to get dressed up. The silver needs polishing, the shoes need shining and the kids need scrubbing. Even our food gets dressed up, with stuffings and dressings, garnishes and twists, crystal and porcelain. Nothing escapes scrutiny, including dessert where dustings and dollops are par for the course. And in the spirit of fancifying, what is known as the ordinary cake roll, becomes an elegant roulade at the Thanksgiving table.

What is the difference between a cake roll and roulade, you may ask. Well, nothing. Both terms describe a light cake which is rolled in a spiral with a creamy filling. Yet the blandly descriptive cake roll is what I might consider as an afternoon snack. For my Thanksgiving dinner, I am inviting the roulade, a French term which elegantly and aptly sums up the nature of the dessert as the word itself rolls off the tongue. I want that dessert at our dressed up dinner table.

Language aside, there are other reasons to include a roulade on your menu. It’s elegant yet uncomplicated, remarkably easy to prepare with stunning results. It’s a no-fail recipe, which is a welcome relief during the holidays and frees up more time to dress up for our guests.

Pumpkin Pecan Roulade with Orange Mascarpone Cream
Serves 8-10

For the cake:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin or butternut squash puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Prepare cake:
Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Butter a 12 by 9 by 1 inch sheet pan. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper and dust with flour.
Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs and sugar in a large bowl or with an electric mixer until light and thick. Add pumpkin and vanilla; mix until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined without over mixing. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle pecans over batter. Bake in oven until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 12-15 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack 5 minutes. While the cake is cooling, lay a clean kitchen towel on the work surface. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar. Invert cake onto the sugared towel. Carefully peel away the parchment paper and discard. Starting at the long end, carefully roll up the cake, jelly-roll style, in the towel. Cool completely on the wire rack.

Prepare filling:
While the cake is cooling, combine mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, cream and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in orange zest.

Assemble roulade:
Gently unroll cake on the work surface. Spread the filling evenly over cake. Carefully roll the cake back up in the same direction, using the towel. Arrange seam-side down on a platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut in 3/4 inch slices to serve.

Butternut Squash, Tomato and Chickpea Ragout with Kale and Couscous

Butternut Squash Couscous

The heat of chile, spices of North Africa and earthiness of kale beautifully complement sweet butternut squash in this hearty ragout. Bright, rich and healthy, this recipe is easily prepared in 30 minutes making it a delicious option for a weeknight. If you prefer an even richer stew, Italian sausage or chorizo may be added.  Most likely, however, you will find that the meatless version is substantial and satisfying enough to win over any carnivore. Be sure to serve the ragout with couscous to soak up the liquid.

Butternut Squash, Tomato and Chickpea Ragout with Kale and Couscous
Serves 4 to 6.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red jalapeno or serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut in 3/4 inch cubes – about 4 cups
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
1 (14-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes with juice
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt
3 cups kale leaves, tough stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups couscous

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a deep sauté pan or stock pot. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 minutes. Add garlic and chiles and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add butternut squash and dry spices; sauté 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and tomatoes with juices. (The squash should be just covered with liquid. Add extra chicken stock if necessary.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until squash is tender but firm, 15-20 minutes. Add chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue to simmer, 10 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer until leaves are wilted and bright green, 2 minutes.
While the ragout is simmering bring 2 cups chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
To serve, spoon couscous into a bowl or shallow plate, leaving a well in the center. Ladle ragout into the center. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley leaves.

To prepare with sausage: As a first step, slice 8 ounces hot Italian sausage or chorizo into 1/2 inch pieces. Sauté in deep sauté pan until golden brown on all sides. Transfer sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon rendered fat. Add onion and proceed with instructions above, substituting the sausage fat for the olive oil. Return sausage to the ragout with the chickpeas.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Squash Soup

Sweet and spicy, warm and comforting: Curried Butternut Squash Soup is a luxuriant soup for the autumn season.  My original inspiration for this soup came from the Silver Palate Cookbook many years ago.  Since then, I have tweaked and made variations of this soup in the different countries where I have lived.  What I love about this rich soup is that there is no cream in the stock.  Sweet onion, tart apples and squash cook down in chicken stock, then puréed and thinned with apple juice.  The apples add a sharp, spicy sweetness that compliments the earthy, sweetness of the squash, while curry powder adds heat and roundness to the flavor.  As a final flourish, I like to add a dollop of cool crème fraîche as garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro. This is a hearty, healthy and pleasing soup for a cool fall day.

Curried Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) Soup
As we moved around Europe it was difficult to find the prolific American butternut squash, so I would improvise with small hokkaido pumpkins that were available in the fall.   You can also substitute the butternut squash with another sweet, orange fleshed squash or pumpkin.

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, cut in 1″ chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut in 1″ chunks
2 tablespoons currry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Crème fraîche
Fresh cilantro leaves

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and stir until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add apple and squash and cook, stirring, one minute.  Add curry powder and ground coriander and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.  Add chicken stock.  (Stock should cover squash and apples.  If not, then add additional stock or water to cover.)  Simmer, covered, until squash and apples are very soft, about 30 minutes.  Purée soup in batches in a food processor or with an immersion blender.  Add apple juice to soup and gently cook to heat through.  (If the soup is too thick, add additional apple juice to desired consistency.)  Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper.
Serve soup hot, garnished with a spoonful of crème fraîche and a few cilantro leaves.