Roasted Winter Squash and Apples with Quinoa, Kale, Pecans and Tahini Maple Dressing

This gorgeous photo is from  Ashley McLaughlin, an architect turned "cookbook author, freelance food photographer, recipe developer, and portrait photographer."  McLaughlin uses acorn squash with her kale (which makes for an interesting shape), but the winter squash in the 9/30 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to be a 2-3 pound buttercup squash as pictured at the bottom of the page. Beside the squash, kale and garlic used in this recipe, other veggies slated for delivery are:  parsley, lettuce mix, and peppers.


To make tahini dressing:

Heat a clean, large dry cast iron  skillet over medium high heat and add 1 cup of whole sesame seeds.  Stir frequently until they begin to turn golden brown and pop.  Remove from skillet and process in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make 3/4 cup.  For this recipe, you will need 4 TB.  You can store the rest in a lidded jar in the fridge.  Peel and smash one clove of garlic. Combine tahini and garlic in a jar with with 2 oz. lime juice (about two limes). Seal and shake and let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Add 1 TB of  real maple syrup and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Set aside.

To roast squash and apples:

Slice two crisp, tart  apples, leaving skin on, but removing core (Granny Smith and Cortlands are two of my favorites).

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds.  I roast it roast face up  in a counter top convection oven for 30 minutes at 475 degrees F, then slice it, peel it and cut it into chunks.  Alternately, you can cut it into 1/4 thick slices and roast it in a conventional oven at 400 degrees F for about 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  If you are cooking the squash in the oven, during the last seven minutes add the apples.  Otherwise you can roast separately in the convection oven for a couple of minutes once the squash is done until the apples start to soften and turn fragrant.

To cook kale and quinoa
Smash, peel and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Chiffonade the kale by removing center stem, rolling and slicing crosswise to make long strips. 

Cover 1 cup raw quinoa in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes and then rinse.  Add fresh water and bring back to a boil and let sit covered until water is absorbed, about a half hour.  Fluff with a fork.

Cook kale in lightly oiled cast iron skillet for about four minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute, then   add a bit of water to steam lightly.  Remove from stove to plate while kale is still bright green and combine with  cooked quinoa.

To serve:

Place quinoa and kale  on a large platter then arrange roasted squash and apples on top. Or you can serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle with 1/2  cup of pecans and drizzle with dressing. 

This butternut squash photo is  from Canadian registered dietitian, freelance magazine nutrition writer and recipe developer Matt Kadey of the blog Muffin Tin Mania.  Be sure to check out his 11/10/10 recipe for buttercup squash and oat muffins. Other yummy recipes for winter squash and kale include Kaela Porter's roasted squash with red peppers and rosemary from her Local Kitchen blog and Liz Harris's wheat berry salad with roasted squash, kale and whiskey soaked cranberrries from her Floating Kitchen blog.  Plus, here are my winter squash recipes from last season:

09/10/13: Moroccan Squash and Eggplant Stew
10/07/13: Another Moroccan Stew: Beets, Buttercup Squash and Radishes
11/11/13: Pecan-Topped Winter Squash Pie (Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes Work, Too)

11/18/13: Parsnip, Carrot, Winter Squash and Apple Stew


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Hugh Martin's The Stick Soldiers

Cover of  The Stick Soldiers, BOA Editions, 2013, 103 pp., ISBN 9781938160066.

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)  This week a poetry book about the war in Iraq comes with my highest recommendation.

Hugh Martin signed on with the Army National Guard in June 2001 for a standard six-year hitch.  The twin towers of the World Trade Center came down in September.  By 2003, he was attending Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.  In an essay for the New York Times ten years later, he writes,
The war began for me while I was sitting on a couch in a living room. Like many people, I watched it all commence on television. At a friend’s house on campus, I sat with a few college friends and drank Bud Ice from bottles. We weren’t drinking beer because of the war; we were drinking simply because, being in college, it was something we often did. White smoke from an explosion would burst up from the cityscape of Baghdad as the sound echoed through the dark. Yellow tracers from antiaircraft fire sprayed randomly into the sky. The ticker on the bottom of the screen euphemistically summarized what was happening (while adding some alliteration and a subtle rhyme): “Large explosion rocks Iraq’s capital.” 

By 2004, Martin was withdrawing from school, when his unit deployed to Iraq. These poems recount his time in basic training, his preparation for Iraq, his experience withdrawing from school, his time in country and his return home to Ohio. Hugh Martin went on to finish his degree on Muskingum in 2009,  obtained an MFA from Arizona State University in  2012 and that fall became a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.  This month, he started  as a lecturer in the English Department at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.


Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Photo from The Functional Foodie

The September 23 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include: spaghetti squash, dill, bok choy, Rosa de Tropea onions, carrots and radishes.

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash with flesh that appears solid until it is cooked and falls into  strands like spaghetti.  Many folks cook it with an Italian-inspired tomato or primavera sauce, which is delicious, but I decided to go Asian and provide a recipe for the stir-fried noodle dish Pad Thai, since the consistency reminds me more of rice noodles than of wheat pasta.  The recipe in the photograph called for tofu and bean spouts, but I prefer tempeh to tofu  and substituted radishes and bok choy for the bean sprouts, since they are in the farm share this week.


Serves 4

For sauce:  Process in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle:
1/4 c. roasted peanut (or substitute cashew and/or sunflower seeds, if you are allergic to peanuts)
2 tbsp white rice vinegar or lime juice
1 tbsp of miso
1 tbsp demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 clove of garlic.

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

For garnish, in separate bowls prepare:
1/3 cup of chopped roasted peanuts, cashews or sunflower seeds
1/3 cup of cilantro leaves torn loose from stem
1/3 cup of chopped green onions
1 lime cut into wedges

Cook the spaghetti squash.  To prep, cut in half, scoop out seeds and stringy pulp with a spoon.  I roast mine face up in a convection oven at 475 for 30 minutes, but you can also cook it in a baking dish  with 1/4 cup of water face down  about 12 minutes in a microwave or  about 35 minutes in a conventional oven at 350 degrees F or until  soft. Set squash to cool and then use a fork to separate the flesh into ribbons.

While the squash is cooking and cooling, prep the other veggies.  Thinly slice one of the Rosa de Tropea onions.  Cut carrots into matchsticks to make 1 cup.  Thinly slice radishes to make one cup.  Thinly slice bok choy to make one cup.  Mince 3 cloves of garlic a one-inch piece of fresh ginger root. Cut one block of tempeh into thin slices.

In a lightly oiled skillet, cook tempeh until lightly browned, about 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Re-oil skillet and add onions, garlic and ginger;  stir until onions are softened and translucent. Add carrots and radishes and stir for about 1 minute more. Add sauce and tempeh and stir gently, until thoroughly mixed.  Remove from heat and add bok choy and squash, tossing to combine. Pour into a deep platter or divide among individual bowls and garnish.  Serve at once.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Dennis Lehane's The Drop

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

This week, I read Dennis Lehane's new novel, The Drop (William MorrowSeptember 2, 2014, 224 pp.)

Like many of Lehane's novels, including Mystic River, The Drop is set in working class Boston and is a crime novel which delves deeply into the psychology of its characters. Unlike his other novels, The Drop started as the first chapter of what Lehane calls a "failed novel," which he used as as the basis for his short story, "Animal Rescue"  published in the anthology Boston Noir.  After writing for HBO's The Wire, Lehane was asked to expand the short story into a film, The Drop--James Gandolfini's last release also coming out this month--and then asked if it might also be a novel.

The story is of  Bob, who tends bar for the Chechen mob and whose lonely life changes after he adopts an abused pitbull puppy, which he names Rocco after the patron saint for "bachelors, pilgrims and dogs."



Blacksburg Contra September 20: Toss the Possum with Caller Danielle Boudrea

Laura and Charlie Zizette are back in the New River Valley from Minnesota and tonight's Blacksburg contra dance at 8 pm at the YMCA at Virginia Tech welcomes them back with Laura on piano, son Rob on fiddle, playing as Toss the Possum, with Charlie, I'm guessing, on sound.  The caller will Vermont native Danielle Boudrea.  There's a lesson at 7:30.


Coconut Red Curry with Bok Choy, Sweet Potatoes and Kidney Beans


The Glade Road Growing farm share for September 16 is slated to include: lettuce mix, hakurai salad turnips, bok choy, cilantro, tomatoes, sweet peppers and yellow onions.

Serves 4

Quarter 1 pound of sweet potatoes and then cut in 1/2 slices
Chop 1/2 cup of cilantro
Halve 4 baby bok choy
Chop one yellow onion
Chop the green portion of of one green onion
Quarter 1 lime

In a bowl stir together one can of coconut milk and 1 cup water, 1 TB of Thai red curry paste

In a skillet, saute sweet potatoes until they brighten in color.  Add onions and cook until translucent.
Add bok choy and after about a minute, add 2 cups of cooked kidney beans and the coconut milk/curry mixture. Reduce to simmer and cook for about three minutes until all the vegetables are cooked through.

If you want, you can serve this over cooked brown basmati or conventional brown rice or as is, garnished with cilantro, green onions and a lime wedge.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: David Huddle's The Faulkes Chronicle

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

This week I finished David Huddle's new novel, The Faulkes Chronicle  (Tupelo Press, 290 pp, September 1, 2014, ISBN 978-1936797455). Review to come, but HIGHLY recommended. Huddle has a gentle, quirky sense of humor even when he's telling the story of a family losing their beloved mother to cancer. The story is vivid and compelling.