Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Holiday Season: Trick People into Thinking You are Gifted

Here we are in the midst of my favorite time of year as far as eating and cooking are concerned. Thanksgiving has come and gone and the rest of the holidays are swiftly approaching. What will you be cooking for your holiday parties? How will you spread the Vitamin L (love)? Recently I spent some time in my kitchen testing a magnificent new winter squash recipe. It's healthy and delicious and you will definitely trick people into thinking you are a Master Kitchen Magician.

Delicata squash is an oblong, striped winter variety with a creamy taste that is similar to a sweet potato. This winter squash arrives early (September) and stays late into the season (February). Low in calories and fat and high in fiber and nourishing vitamins, it is an incredibly healthy treat for this cold and warm and rainy and snowy and windy season. What the heck is up with this weather anyway?

A note if you are new to my style of cooking and recipe writing... the key word here is intuition. I am not much of a paint by numbers recipe follower. I simply use recipes as a guide, a mere suggestion for creating an amazing dish. When I write a recipe you will often notice a "choose your own adventure" quality to the ingredients and directions. By doing this I'm encouraging you to think outside the cookbook and make each dish your own by choosing flavors, textures, colors and so on according to your own palate. You WILL try things only to discover that your particular choice/combination doesn't work. You might feel like you failed and your family might make faces, but I promise that for every time you mess up you will learn a new and valuable lesson... you've become a better, more intuitive chef.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Quinoa and White Bean Stuffing

You will need:

2 delicata squash, halved with seeds scooped out
1 large garlic clove, minced
extra virgin olive oil
1- 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (I prefer Eden Organic brand)
a few handfuls of your favorite greens, finely chopped (such as: spinach, collards, kale, chard)
1 Tbsp minced parsley (or basil or sage)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
small handful of dried cranberries
1 cup apple cider and 1 cup water
2 Tbsp maple syrup
crushed walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash halves (skin side down) in a baking dish. Drizzle with some olive oil and season with a bit of sea salt and pepper. Bake for about an hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, to make the filling, bring the cider and water to a boil. Add the quinoa and dried cranberries and lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 mins. So far, so easy...

In a saute pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat then add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the greens and continue to saute until wilted. Now add white beans and parsley (or basil or sage). Continue to cook until heated through.

In a separate bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with the beans and greens mixture. Allow to cool slightly while you think about how easy this has been and how impressed people will be with your cooking prowess. You can even start to clean up some of your mess here.

Once the squash is cooked you are ready to fill the halves and you are very excited about it. Bring the oven to 425 degrees. Divide the filling between the four halves, making a mound on each. Drizzle each with some maple syrup and a dusting of crushed walnuts, if it tickles your fancy. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Finish cleaning up your kitchen.

Now, take the masterpiece out of your oven, get your camera, take a picture and post it to your blog.

Serves 4. You may even have leftover quinoa stuffing which you can feel free to go crazy with. You can eat it plain, you can stuff it into portabella mushrooms, you can use it as a bottom layer when serving chicken or turkey, etc. You might want to eat it for breakfast. Esecially if you're a triathlete. Especially if you like to win races.


SpeedySasquatch said...

I am a firm believer in the intuitive chef and choosing your own adventure! This little tasty treat that you introduced me to is awesome! I hope everyone tries it out and enjoys it as much as I did.

Chef Guru is back in the saddle!


See, doesn't it feel good to be writing again?

Strouter said...

Dude - I didn't know you had a blog! I will link to yours for sure!! I love it. We need to catch up in person soon. It's been since July since we've acted ridiculous and silly together. Haha :).

Jamie said...

I love "intuitive cooking."

Nice post.

ramster said...

ok i am thinking of a number between 1 and 10.

Javier said...

I am intuitive in that I intuitively know to let someone else cook ;) But THIS does look good and I do LOVE sweet potatoe and anyting similar, so I may yet give it a go!