Smoky ‘Shroom-and-Kale-Stuffed Pattypan Squash

I wish I’d been around when humans got down to the business of naming things.  I’d definitely be pretty psyched to have been the one to point at a scurrying gray rodent with an endearingly bushy tail and say, “We should call that a ‘squirrel’ from now on.” And speaking of awesome names, heirloom vegetables might just be one of the deepest wellsprings of hilarious, beautiful and downright odd monikers known to man.  In the tomato family alone, there’s “Chocolate Stripes,” “Mortgage Lifter,” “Pink Oxheart,” “Brandywine,” “Big Rainbow,” “Enchantment,” “German Johnson,” and “Grandma’s Recliner.” No wait, that last one was made up by Molly and Matt of Spilled Milk, one of my very favorite podcasts.

Take pattypan squash.  It’s hard to say without a hint of a smile, right? These flower-shaped beauties are also known as scallop squash, which describes the elegant curves of their edges.  (Cue John Legend song here.)  Come to think of it, that tune could very well have been written about heirloom veggies: all your perfect imperfections… Anyway, according to rareseeds.com, pattypan is “a very ancient native American heirloom squash, grown by the northern Indians for hundreds of years.”  So thank you northern Indians, for cultivating this delicious fruit we still enjoy today.

beautiful vegetables

The pattypans we got in our box this week were about fist size, perfect for stuffing with goodness to preserve their unique geometry and create a hot-lookin’ main dish.  To stuff a pattypan squash, treat it like a pumpkin destined for jack o’ lantern status: saw out the top of the squash with a paring knife by aiming the blade at about a 45 degree angle down into the flesh and cut in a circle; you should wind up with a cone shape when you pull off the top. Then using a metal spoon, scrape out the seeds and some of the flesh of the pattypan, making a decent sized compartment for whatever you’d like to stuff inside.

hollow squash

My creation was born of what dwelt in the fridge: collard greens, red Russian kale, cream cheese, and cremini mushrooms.  You can stuff yours with just about anything; grains, greens, and/or cheese work especially well.  Here’s my recipe:

Smoky ‘Shroom-and-Kale-Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Ingredients:

2 large Pattypan squash, tops removed and insides hollowed as described above

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 collard green leaves, ribs removed and shredded

5 red Russian kale leaves, ribs removed and shredded

8 whole cremini mushrooms, diced

¼ cup cream cheese

smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste

stuffed pattypan squash

Method:

In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté for a brief minute before adding the shredded greens.  Reduce the heat slightly and cook the greens until bright green and tender, adding water to deglaze the pan as needed, as you don’t want the garlic or the greens to brown or burn.  Remove greens from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.

Using the same pan over medium heat, add the second tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the diced mushrooms to the pan and stir to coat with oil.  Once the mushrooms are tender and glossy, lower the heat and add the cream cheese, stirring to encourage melting. Add smoked paprika, cayenne and salt, tasting the mixture with each addition. (Don’t be shy with your spices, the cream cheese tempers the heat quite nicely.) Add the cooked greens back to the pan and mix all ingredients (except squash) until uniformly incorporated, then remove filling mixture from heat.

Using a spoon, stuff the kale and mushroom mixture into the squashes, pushing down on the filling with the back of the spoon to make room for more goodness.  Overstuff so some filling is visible coming out of the squash, then place the little caps on top. Cover the outside of the squash with a light sheen of olive oil to prevent scorching.

Bake stuffed squash in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes or until thickest part of squash can be pierced with a fork without much difficulty (but is not totally mushy.)

Serve warm alongside a simple green salad and sliced fruit of the season.

kale and mushroom stuffed pattypan squash

kale and shroom stuffed pattypans

Sage, Arugula and Leek Omelette for Two (and one more CSA-inspired recipe!)

Happy first day of summer. I’ve issued myself a challenge: one blog entry per week showcasing the produce from our weekly CSA box. We’re two boxes in and I’ve yet to write a post about the awesomely fresh, local, organic veggies I’ve been cooking, eating and loving lately , so looks like this one’s gonna be a two-fer folks. These recipes will be more loose and versatile than others I’ve posted; they’re meant to inspire you to grab whatever’s fresh at the market and make from it something simple and delicious, that showcases the flavors of the season. Please interpret these with your own creative twist, and leave a comment about what you came up with, I’d love to hear from you. Let’s share some local love!

From some of the shining stars of our first box, which we conveniently pick up at the nearby Tosa farmer’s market every Saturday morning, I whipped up a tasty midday omelette filled with leeks, sage, baby arugula (not from the CSA ) and goat cheese.

sage, arugula and leek omelette

I’m no omelette pro, but the key to keeping it together seems to be touching the eggs as little as possible while they’re cooking. I’m sure they are plenty of excellent omelette-making tutorials on YouTube so I won’t go into great depth with the instructions.

Sage, Arugula and Leek Omelette for Two

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil (divided)
5 free range eggs (bonus if you can get them at the market)
salt to taste
1 tablespoon half and half (or whole milk, heavy cream, or coconut milk)
two handfuls baby arugula
about 8 sage leaves, chopped
1 small (spring) leek, sliced into half moons, rinsed
¼ cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

Heat ½ tablespoon of the butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted or oil runs loosely in the pan, add the leeks and stir until slightly softened. Next, add the arugula and sage, cooking until wilted. Turn off heat and remove mixture to a separate plate; cover with a bowl to keep warm. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.

Whisk together the eggs, cream, and salt in a bowl. Add another ½ tablespoon of fat to the skillet.

When butter is melted or oil runs loosely in the pan, pour the eggs into it and swirl to cover the surface of the skillet. Let the eggs sit for a quick minute, until the bottom of the omelette is just firm. Then, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently peel back the cooked eggs and tilt the pan so the runny eggs run into the open space in the skillet. Continue this process maybe one or two more times until the eggs are mostly cooked but still soft.

Add the arugula mixture to the center of the omelette in a loose line, then sprinkle the filling with about half of the goat cheese. Carefully fold the omelette edges over the filling. Cover the skillet and cook for one more minute if you are concerned there may be some runny egg lurking.

Remove omelette from the skillet and serve topped with remaining goat cheese crumbles, pepper, and a sage garnish if you’re feelin’ fancy. Cut in two and enjoy with a loved one or save half for tomorrow’s lunch (cold omelette = delish).

sage, arugula and leek omelette

Week two’s box brought us strawberries, kale, leeks, radishes, asparagus, and more! Today, I whipped up a simple cooked salad of sautéed kale and asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and parmesan which we enjoyed alongside a rotisserie chicken and some good crusty bread (wine too).

fresh loca asparagus

Roasted Kale and Asparagus Salad with Nutmeg

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
1 bunch red Russian (or any other variety) kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan or other hard cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
salt, pepper to taste

sauteed kale and asparagus salad

Heat half of the oil in a large skillet, medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté until bright green and still very crisp, about 4 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet. Add the chopped kale leaves and sauté until bright green and tender. Add the sun dried tomatoes, cooking minute or two longer. Remove skillet from heat and stir in parmesan and pine nuts. Salt and pepper to taste, add addition olive oil as desired.

In a large bowl or on a serving platter, first make a layer of the sautéed kale, then top with the asparagus, finishing with more parmesan and pine nuts for garnish.

Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.

IMG_0454

Crunchy Cucumber Apple Kale Salad

I love eating from a wide, shallow bowl.  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, any meal looks delicious and inviting all cuddled together against the lazily sloped sides of a pasta bowl.   Never mind one pot meals,  I’ll do some extra dishes to make me a one bowl meal.  bowls

Some of my favorites as of late:

  • steel cut oats, sliced banana, homemade yogurt (recipe soon!) and raw cashews
  • brown rice, herby tomato sauce, fried eggs, steamed broccoli, parmesan cheese
  • shredded romaine, carrot ribbons, sliced red peppers, roasted sweet potatoes, pulled chicken, olive oil

The possibilities are truly innumerable! (echo, echo, echo)

I’ve had this crunchy kale salad on my to-make list for quite some time.  It hails from the Sprouted Kitchen blog, one of my (any many others’) fav sites for creative, super-healthy, gorgeous and invariably delicious recipes.  So on Sunday morning, when my dad texted: “dinner party: 5 PM,” I knew just what I’d be bringing to the table.  dinner table

This diversely textured salad does demand some chopping, but aside from that it comes together pretty quickly.  The only thing you’ve got to plan for is cooking the lentils and roasting the pepitas (raw, green pumpkin seeds) which are both pretty hands-off steps.

crunch kale salad - ingredients

This salad is a keeper, meaning you can keep it in the fridge and enjoy it for a couple days. There’s lots of lemon juice in the dressing, so the apples won’t go brown on you.  I would definitely say this salad gets better on the second day, since the kale breaks down a bit in the presence of the acidic lemon juice and the flavors have time to meld and mingle.  Just remember to leave out the pepitas until you’re ready to dig in so they don’t get soggy.

How to make this a one bowl meal: a couple scoops of this salad nestled in with a hunk of goat cheese or feta and a hard-boiled egg and you’ve got yourself a crazy nutritious mouth party.  Shazam! crunchy kale salad

Crunchy Cucumber Apple Kale Salad

adapted slightly from Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients:

3 cups kale, chopped and stems removed

1 bunch parsley, chopped and large stems removed

1 cup cooked black (beluga) lentils: – bring dried lentils to a boil in plenty of water, then reduce heat and simmer until just soft, but not mushy

1 tart green apple, diced

1 sweet pink or yellow apple, diced

1 english cucumber, diced

½ cup toasted pepitas

dressing:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Juice and zest from one whole lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

crunch kale salad 2

Method:

1. In a large serving bowl, combine the kale, parsley, lentils, apples, and cucumber.

2. For the dressing, put all ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake until emulsified.  If you don’t wanting garlic bits, use a food processor instead.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to distribute. Garnish with pepitas and cheese of your choice.

crunchy cucumber apple kale salad 3

Butternut Squash Pasta with Goat Cheese and Toasted Sage Pecans

I spend more time than the average person thinking about food, I’m almost certain of it.  Before falling asleep and upon waking, I’m deciding what breakfast is going to be.  At school, at work, while making other food, I’m concocting dinner ideas, sometimes pondering ways to eek out a meal from the few things I’ve got left lying around the fridge when grocery shopping hasn’t happened for a while, other times staring at a lone butternut squash from the CSA box, trying to think of a novel way to use all that remains of our 20-week adventure of eating local produce.

I wanted to honor this beautiful squash, this bright orange beauty that turned dewy and permeated the kitchen with a sweet, musky scent as soon as I sliced it open.  So I invented something, though I’m sure the flavors have met before in other kitchen.  It’s something I’d call comfort food – like macaroni and cheese, but better.  I scribbled the game plan on an index card and got to work.

This is the kind of food we want to fill our bellies with when the weather gets feisty.  It’s pasta that has lots going on (which I love since I get bored easily when eating a lot of the same thing.)  It’s goat-cheese creamy, pecan crunchy, sage earthy, nutmeg spicy and butternut sweet, and a little nutty thanks to the addition of brown butter which in my opinion really put it over the edge of awesome.  To counter the richness of the dish, serve it with an easy mixed green salad and some pear slices.

Butternut squash and goat cheese pasta with toasted sage pecans

Prep: 35 mins   Cooking time:  a hour or so

Serves 4, probably with some leftovers

Roasted squash:

1 butternut squash, halved with seeds scooped out

2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter

1 teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Pasta

8 oz (1/2 package) whole wheat linguini noodles

1 cup pasta water, reserved

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 leaves sage, en chiffonade

½ cup pecans, chopped

¾ cup crumbled goat cheese

freshly grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Pre-heat oven to 475° F.

Place squash halves skin side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Rub squash flesh (inside part) with coconut oil or butter; you want a nice even layer of fat.

Sprinkle squash liberally with coarse salt and grated nutmeg.

Place squash (on baking sheet) into the pre-heated oven and roast until you can easily poke a fork through the thickest part of the squash’s flesh, (but squash is somewhat firm, not mushy) about 30-40 minutes.

Allow squash to cool.

Remove skin from squash. It should peel off pretty easily, but you may need to slice some off with your knife too.

Dice squash into ½ inch cubes and store in fridge until you’re ready to prepare the meal.  (I made my squash in the morning, went about my day, and then prepared this dish that evening for dinner.)

Boil a large pot of salted water for pasta.

Once water is boiling, add half a package (8 oz) whole wheat linguini noodles.

While pasta cooks melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over low heat.  Continue to cook butter very slowly until it takes on a nutty, almost sweet smell.

Add the garlic and onion to browned butter and turn up heat slightly to sauté the alliums for about 5 minutes under tender and slightly brown.

Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to skillet, allowing spices to toast for a minute.

Add sage and pecans, and a drizzle of olive oil if things are getting dry.  Stir and cook for about 3 minutes, until sage is wilted and nuts are toasted and shiny.

When pasta is al dente, remove from heat and drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water.

Return pasta to pot and add cubed squash, goat cheese and half the pasta water.  Turn on heat to medium low and stir to combine.

Add the pecan and sage mixture from skillet into pasta pot, making sure to get all the butter and browned bits using a spatula.  Add remaining pasta water as needed and stir to combine.

Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Top each serving with a few whole pecans and a bit of goat cheese.   Enjoy!