Categories
Quarantine Kitchen

A Guide to Winter Squash

It’s soup/stew season which means it’s SQUASH SEASON. Squash are one of the most popular ingredients in cold weather recipes, but it’s a pretty big category. What separates butternut squash from acorn? Or spaghetti? Or yellow? Use this guide to find the perfect variety for your dinner tonight!

  1. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is probably the most popular version of gourd, at least on Pinterest. This squash is great for cooking and roasting, and it can add a pleasant sweetness to your fall dinners, similar to the effect you get from sweet potatoes. This squash is easy to peel, which is a huge plus for if you’re looking to chop it up for a stew or side.

I like this squash cubed and roasted in the oven with herbs like sage and thyme as a side to roasted pork chops. This is also my favorite version to puree into soup or make into vegan autumn steaks on the grill. Use this squash in any savory or sweet dish this fall.

2. Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is characterized by its extremely savory and nutty flavor when cooked. It is a deep forest green that is streaked with a bright yellow-orange making it a great choice if you’re making a meal to impress your partner/parents/ex you know you shouldn’t still follow but totally do. Look for acorn squash that has just a touch of orange though—too much means it’s overripe!

This squash is deal for baking and stuffing. I like mine roasted and wrapped in prosciutto or baked with a vegan cornmeal stuffing. 9be looking in the next few weeks for these recipes!)

3. Spaghetti Squash

Okay, this guy is a little weird. Not bad weird, just not like any other squash you’ve ever seen. This squash has a stringy texture on the inside meaning that after it is baked it can be used as a pasta substitute. I will say right now, I don’t condone the substitution of pasta in dishes in order to restrict carbs. carbs are important and past is delicious. But I do think spaghetti squash is a good substitute in certain recipes because vegan pasta is criminally expensive.

Cut the large squash in half and bake it with oil. Then simply use a fork to scrape out the insides to use at your will in dishes such as squash carbonara or lemon curry spaghetti squash with seared shrimp.

4. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is delicious and if you’re a pumpkin hater, I feel bad for you. The version we’re most familiar with is the sugar pumpkin, and it’s great for literally everything. Pie? Delicious. Soup? Yes, yes, yes! Roasted for an entree or side? Fuck yeah. Sugar pumpkins are just a little sweet, similar to butternut squash and sweet potato, so it can be treated with herbs and salt for savory dishes and brown sugar and spices for dessert. I’m especially fond of this squash in soups like pumpkin and peanut soup, or roasted into a pumpkin gratin alongside roasted chicken or eggplant and lentils.

Be looking in the blood in the coming weeks for some A+ recipes using all these squash types!

Categories
Quarantine Kitchen

Braised Octopus in Tomato-Cumin-Fennel Broth

Octopus tentacle might not be dominating American menus, but this seafood dish a hallmark of Southern Italian and Spanish cuisine. While this mollusk might be a new dinner item for your kitchen, it’s much easier to cook than you think! This hot roasted tomato and fennel broth is perfect for the cold nights coming in autumn.

There are two different routes you can take with octopus: pre-cooked or raw. Which one I use often depends on availability. I can find raw octopus at my local asian market, but there are times when cooked varieties are the only tentacles available. When using pre-cooked octopus, be sure to cut the cook time way down to avoid the aggressively rubbery texture most people think of when it comes to octopus and squid.

The first step to creating this recipe is to marinade the octopus tentacles in a mix of finely minced fennel bulb, olive oil, fennel seed, cumin seeds, red pepper flake, shaved garlic, and parsley. Combine tentacles with herbs, spices, and oils in a ziplock bag and massage together to be sure the tentacles are well covered. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before cooking, but preferably closer to 6 hours.

Roast tomatoes and garlic on a sheet pan in the oven at 400º for about 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes caramelize slightly and the garlic is fully roasted.

I like to use ripe Roma tomatoes for this recipe because they’re usually the cheapest option that is also the most consistent. However, any whole, ripe tomato will work perfectly for this dish!

While your tomatoes are roasting, thickly chop half of a large sweet onion. This tomato broth relies on large pieces of onion to give it more texture, so be sure to stay away from finely chopped onion this time! After the tomatoes and garlic have roasted, set them to the side until cooled.

Add 1 tbsp oil to a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pan and coat in the oil, gently frying until they become translucent. Remove the roasted garlic from their paper skins and add to the pan with the onions. (Roasted garlic tends to form a paste texture during the roasting process, so I like to use a spoon for this!)

Sauté the garlic and onions until onions begin to slightly brown on the edges. Deglaze the pan with white cooking wine and scrape any blackened bits from the bottom of the pan. Using you hards, crush the roasted tomatoes and add to the pan with the onions and garlic.

Stir often and cook down the tomato for about 3 minutes. Add stock and bring broth to a light boil.

Once your broth is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, on the back burner. Season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, red pepper flake, and cumin to taste.

Remove octopus from your ziplock bag, and season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Pour 1 tbsp of oil from the marinade into a hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear octopus on both sides for about 3 minutes each—using a separate skillet to press the octopus will help get a harder char on the mollusk.

Once octopus has been charred on either side, remove it from the cast iron and place it into the hot simmering tomato broth. Be sure to cover the tentacle completely in liquid. Cook on medium-low, covered, until done and tender, about 1 hour.

Place Octopus in the middle of the plate and spoon hot broth over the meat. Garnish with a fennel strand and chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread and crispy potatoes or a crisp green salad and white wine!

Octopus Braised in Tomato-Cumin-Fennel Broth

2 lbs octopus tentacles

1/2 small fennel bulb, finely minced

1 bulb garlic, whole

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4-5 ripe roma tomatoes, halved

1/2 sweet onion, roughly chopped into large pieces

2 cups vegetable or seafood stock

1/4 cup white cooking wine

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seed

1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

salt/pepper/cumin/smoked paprika/red pepper flake, to taste

  1. Marinade the octopus tentacles in a mix of finely minced fennel bulb, olive oil, fennel seed, cumin seeds, red pepper flake, shaved garlic, and parsley. Combine tentacles with herbs, spices, and oils in a ziplock bag and massage together to be sure the tentacles are well covered. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before cooking, but preferably closer to 6 hours.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet with garlic in the middle. Drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt. Roast tomatoes and garlic on a sheet pan in the oven at 400º for about 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes caramelize slightly and the garlic is fully roasted.
  3. While your tomatoes are roasting, thickly chop half of a large sweet onion. This tomato broth relies on large pieces of onion to give it more texture, so be sure to stay away from finely chopped onion this time! After the tomatoes and garlic have roasted, set them to the side until cooled.
  4. Add 1 tbsp oil to a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pan and coat in the oil, gently frying until they become translucent. Remove the roasted garlic from their paper skins and add to the pan with the onions.
  5. Sauté the garlic and onions until onions begin to slightly brown on the edges. Deglaze the pan with white cooking wine and scrape any blackened bits from the bottom of the pan. Using you hards, crush the roasted tomatoes and add to the pan with the onions and garlic.
  6. Stir often and cook down the tomato for about 3 minutes. Add stock and bring broth to a light boil.
  7. Once your broth is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, on the back burner. Season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, red pepper flake, and cumin to taste.
  8. Remove octopus from your ziplock bag, and season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Pour 1 tbsp of oil from the marinade into a hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  9. Sear octopus on both sides for about 3-5 minutes each—using a separate skillet to press the octopus will help get a harder char on the mollusk.
  10. Remove it from the cast iron and place it into the hot simmering tomato broth. Be sure to cover the tentacle completely in liquid. Cook on medium-low, covered, until done and tender, about 1 hour.
  11. Place Octopus in the middle of the plate and spoon hot broth over the meat. Garnish with a fennel strand and chopped parsley.

Categories
Quarantine Kitchen

Canned Sardines in Garlic, Shallot, Tomato Sauce

Canned food has been a lifesaver for families going into fall and winter for over a century. While normally we think of canned vegetables as a pantry item we can’t live without, canned seafood tends to be an afterthought,  if not downright dismissed. 

These canned sardines are packed with protein and, stewed with shallots, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs they will suddenly become your new favorite dinner entree. Coming together in just thirty minutes, this is the perfect dinner entree for when you want to cook something comforting but don’t want to spend three hours in the kitchen.

Canned Sardines in Garlic, Shallot, and Tomato Sauce

1 can sardines, packed in olive oil

1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes

1/2 shallot, finely diced

1/2 sweet onion, finely diced

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup vegetable stock

1 tbsp white wine

1 lemon, zested

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt/Pepper

1 tsp Red Pepper Flake

1 tsp Oregano

Fresh Thyme, to taste

  1. Heat oil over medium heat and allow to warm in the pan for about 1 minute.
  2. Add onion and shallot to the oil and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme sprigs, sautéing until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
  3. Drain the oil from the can of sardines and reserve for later. Add sardines to the pan and stir into the onion/garlic mixture, coating the sardine pieces in garlic and oil.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the wine and scrape any charred bits at the bottom of the pan into the fish and onions.
  5. Add tomatoes, sardine oil, and stock to the pan with the fish. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring often.
  6. Remove the lid and reduce to low heat. Stir in lemon zest, oregano, and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm, crusty bread, a crisp green salad, and a glass of Italian wine such as Barbera or Grillo.