Saturday, December 8, 2012

Left Over Power: Barley Risotto Soup

My Barley Risotto-Style makes a lot of food. After making soup the next day, I froze the remaining risotto. Just a few days ago, I ate the risotto from the freezer. I have been so proud of my Pumpkin Barley Risotto-Style that I have been bragging about it for weeks but eating it again inspired a few thoughts (or more likely, in my case, repetitive musings):
  • this is one of those recipes that turned out even better than I could imagine when coming up with the idea; of course, squash risotto sounds yummy but this is spectacular;
  • there are no fancy ingredients or special techniques at work in this recipe but it tastes expensive and luxurious;
  • after having the leftovers, I am 100% convinced this would be a perfect entertaining recipe. I will duly report my results if 
    1. I ever have guests over again
    2. I have friends that would eat pumpkin (Z. is not interested)
    3. Z. lets me cook for guests. Cooking Indian food for friends is either of his favorite pastimes (he does cook like an Indian grandmother, after all) or is so socially awkward that he feels better having a job to do while hanging out. I think the truth lies somewhere between the two
  • and finally, no wonder barley is so popular in soup. It's delicious!
To make enough soup for my dinner, in a small pan, I just added enough water to 1 cup of risotto to create the consistency I wanted and heated until just simmering. I threw in a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach in at the end and let it wilt simply because I had it and that sounded good. I wonder what other variations are possible? Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Teaser of Upcoming Recipes

I have been cooking a lot the last couple of months!!! I just wanted to share a few my recipes you can expect to see here at Cheap Not Frugal Eats. I even have a few recipe reviews in the future including Autumn Sweet Potato Soup and persimmon crisp.

Cilantro pistou: Simple and delicious. I have been enjoying this with one of my favorite vegetable soups.

Cauliflower and bacon chowder

Pumpkin cheesecake: This is the result of my first attempt at making pumpkin ravioli. I'll explain what happened...

Tuna cakes: Very plain (okay, they're ugly) but cheap and tasty.

West African-inspired peanut and yam curry: This is one of the best meals I have eaten this fall.

Proven├žale gratin: A quiche I'm calling a gratin to make me feel special and worldly. Rice and  some of  my favorite veggies combine with eggs for a homey meal. The seasoned breadcrumbs on top took this simple meal to another level.

Pappa al pomodoro: Another fancy name for a simple meal, this time of tomatoes and bread.  I had never made tomato soup myself and finally gave it try. My life hasn't been the same since; it's so much richer. Yes, it is the simple things that make me happy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pumpkin Detour: Zucchini "Chili"

I have lots of new recipes to share! This little gem is something I made a couple of months ago when you could most clearly see the transition in the seasons at the farmer's market. The last berries of the year were sitting next to basketfuls of delicata squash and dark greens, while mounds of zucchini and chili peppers were  fighting to grab your attention away from heirloom peaches and apples. You can see this in the star ingredients:

  • summer squash
  • fresh chili peppers
  • kale
  • delicata squash
Delicata squash may not be available everywhere or for an exorbitant price. If you would like to make a substitute, I suggest butternut squash or yams. Both have a stronger flavor than delicata but it's similar to the delicata.

Creating a yummy meal around my last summer squash that used some of the other veggies in my pantry was my inspiration. I had a huge round zucchini that only cost $0.33 because it was the end of the summer season! By this time, I was pretty tired of all my tried and true zucchini recipes so I did a little searching.

I found Rachael Ray's recipe here. I started with Rachael's recipe and adapted it to what I had on hand. This is a keeper! The spices and chile peppers were a nice combination but didn't overpower the vegetables. I only used 3 chilies but feel free to add more. I was surprised at home much I liked the zucchini in big chunks. The larger pieces of zucchini kept some crispness and made the meal feel more hearty.

I did one step differently. I roasted my two squashes and the peppers. The zucchini I kept an eye on and removed from the oven right when it was just becoming tender. I just heated these vegetables through at the end in the pot. While this step isn't necessary, the roasted flavor really made the meal better. I don't think any of the red pepper made it into the pot because it was so good on its on. Enjoy!

Zucchini "Chili"

by Ace Nation
Keywords: vegan beans/lentils vegetables

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped into large pieces
  • 1/2 delicata squash, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 pablano chili
  • 1 Anaheim chili
  • 1 red chili
  • 2-3 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Garnish: Lime wedges or cilantro
Note: Roasting the squash and the peppers is not required but does taste delicious. If you decide not to roast the vegetables, add the squash and peppers while the onions cook, and cook until tender.
To roast the squash and peppers: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the squash and peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables about halfway through.
In a large high-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally, cook until soft, a little color is nice, 8-10 minutes.
Add garlic and kale, stirring occasionally, cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.
Add tomato paste and cumin. Cook about 1 minute.
Add vegetable stock, Italian seasoning, coriander, smoked paprika, roasted vegetables, and black beans.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes, until the squash is heated through and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Season to taste with kosher salt.
Serve over rice with lime wedges and/or fresh cilantro.
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Here's What I Call a Hillbilly Recipe: Pumpkin Pudding

Normally, I pride myself on making great meals from scratch and going the extra mile to make ingredients myself. I do have a couple of exceptions. I think I have made homemade pudding one time in my life and that was years ago. Why would I need to? I have an undying love for Jell-O vanilla instant pudding...and I always have at least one box in my cupboard at all times.

I have no idea where I had the inspiration of combining pumpkin puree and instant pudding. Maybe I was thinking about The Pioneer Woman's creamy, luscious Pumpkin Smoothie and wishing it was creamier and not so cold?

Wherever the inspiration came from, this pudding is tasty! I went ahead and added a little extra vanilla and a few spices. I have made a couple of deserts using yams and acorn squash. I am guessing that they would also work well in place of the pumpkin. I did just buy 8 pounds of yams. Maybe yam pudding is in my future...

P.S. Towards the end of the batch, I tried adding a little extra pumpkin puree to the pumpkin-flavored pudding. Please avoid my mistake. Instead of making the pudding taste even more like pumpkin, it became rather vegetal. 1 cup of puree was perfect.

Pumpkin Pudding

by Ace Nation
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Keywords: winter squash pudding

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 box (5.1 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
In a mixing bowl, with a whisk or a hand mixer, blend pudding mix and milk about 3 minutes. Gently stir in pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and spice. Refrigerate until set, at least 5 minutes, then serve. Enjoy!
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Barley-Risotto Style

When searching for winter squash recipes, you will definitely come across ravioli and risotto. After successfully mastering pumpkin ravioli, I decided to give risotto a shot.

Butternut squash is most commonly used but I had a gorgeous squash from the farmer's market. It's called a sunset squash. The name does more justice to the beautiful color than my pictures. If you have ever seen a tree with red leaves in the fall that were so vibrant and red that they almost glowed they were so vibrant, that's what the skin of this squash looked like.

P.S. It was difficult to cut the squash like this. Looks pretty but I would only suggest you do slices if you are comfortable in the kitchen with a knife.

Feel free to use risotto rice. The only change to the directions would be the cooking time. Rice would only need about half the time. I have made barley risotto-style before and loved it. I really enjoy the flavor of barley but don't cook it that often because it takes so long. I should get more in the habit. Barley is cheap: around $0.70 per pound in these parts. Barley works great for risotto because it becomes tender but still has a nice bite. Just a few tidbits of hopefully useful knowledge:

  • Barley takes a long time to cook. Everything was simmering away even with the stove set right between off and medium so I left it there. Once the barley hit the pan, it needed about 65 minutes to cook.
  • I added water/stock about every ten minutes.
  • I only stirred the pot every five minutes. You do not have to stand over the stove the whole time. Just please don't forgot about your glorious pot of food while it's cooking!

I had two secret ingredients. Many recipes I found only added chunks of squash. I wanted the flavor of the squash to be the star so in addition to the pieces of squash, I added a cup of squash puree. Not only did the make the flavor of the pumpkin the star, the puree added a nice creaminess.

My second secret ingredient was a granny smith apple. The tartness of the apple provided tasty balance to the sweet and savory pumpkin. I made sure to add the apple towards the end to make sure it still had a little bit of crispness. Below are a few shots of the barley in the process of cooking, a few extra tips I learned along the way, and the recipe. Enjoy!
This is to show where I kept the stove temperature the entire time: right in the middle between off and medium. The onions took ages to cook and 65 minutes passed between adding the barley to the pot and being on my plate but it was well worth it. Feel free to try cooking the barley at a slightly higher temperature. I have no idea what will happen.
The barley smelled delicious while toasting in the pan, much like my current favorite ale. I was inspired!

Here's what the pot looked like after the first addition of  water/stock. Don't be afraid of the color!

Pumpkin Barley-Risotto Style

by Ace Nation
Cook Time: about 60 minutes
Keywords: entree vegan winter squash barley

Ingredients (serves 3)
  • 5-7 cups water, stock, or a combination
  • 1 cup hulled barley
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion, diced finely
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups roasted winter squash or pumpkin, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup roasted winter squash puree
  • 1/2 14 ounce can of white beans (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
Place the water or stock in a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer, and keep warm.
In another larger sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally, cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic, stirring occasionally, cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add barley and cook until aromatic, about 3-4 minutes.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups of water/stock at a time and the squash puree, stirring about every 5 minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
Then, add 1/2 water/stock at a time, stirring occasionally.
After about 50 minutes of adding 1/2 liquid, add the diced squash, white beans, and apple to the pan and additional water/stock as needed. At this time, I begin to add 1/4 cup water/stock at a time. Stir very gently.
Continue the process of adding water/stock and stirring until the barley is fully cooked. The grains will be tender but still slightly chewy.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Surprises at the Farmer's Market and Other New Ingredients

I went to the Corvallis Farmer's Market Saturday on the hunt for winter squash and a pumpkin donut from Gathering Together Farm. I was at the market so early last weekend that the pastries weren't set out yet. What a travesty!

When you purchase a potato donut, whoever is selling them usually hands them to you on a napkin because most of us devour them immediately. I have to ask for my donut in a bag because lately, I have been taking my donuts home and enjoying them with a cup of coffee on the couch. They never believe that the donut makes it home! Here is proof:

I bought a bag 3 pound bag of organic persimmons for $3. Sometimes you can find much better deals at the farmer's market. I just saw persimmons in the super market for conventional persimmons at $1.99/pound. I have no clue what to do with a persimmon as I've never actually eaten a persimmon. I have a friend who loves persimmons so I thought I would give them a try.

Left: buttercup squash Right: baby bear pumpkin

There were pumpkins left! I used all of my pumpkin and was sorely disappointed when I went to the super market the day after Halloween to find absolutely no pumpkins. I found these two little gals at the market on Saturday. The buttercup squash is a really pretty pastel gray-blue and weighs about 3.5-4 pounds. The pumpkin is an adorable little 1-1.5 pounder.

I love root vegetables this time of year and can occasionally find them on sale for a great price. This week the Market of Choice has yams or sweet potatoes 3 pounds for a $1. That whole plate only cost $1.03. You'll be seeing plenty of yam recipes in the near future!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pasta with Pumpkin

As wonderful as pumpkin can be, I was not impressed with my Pasta with Pumpkin. Let me translate: I experimented and my meal was good enough to eat for dinner and the leftovers were my lunch the next day but that's the extent of it.

Here's what I used (and for directions look at my Pasta with Kale and Chickpeas recipe because I used basically the same process):
  • olive oil
  • onion
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • kale
  • white beans
  • roasted pumpkin
  • tomato paste
  • harisa
  • dry white wine
  • toasted walnuts
The first problem was the texture. The pumpkin, white beans, and pasta all had a similar texture. Roasted squash may just not belong with pasta.

Normally, a splash of white wine like sauvignon blanc brings a pasta dish with sauteed vegetables together and makes a simple dish, taste luxurious. In this case, the bright, grassy wine clashed with the earthy, sweet pumpkin . Some sort of stock or broth would have been a better alternative.

I had some tomato paste left over from the night before. I had an idea that some bright, acidic tomatoes would be great with the pumpkin. Well, tomato paste does not have the same flavor or brightness of canned tomatoes. The tomato paste didn't add anything. I didn't even care for the flavor of the tomato paste with the other vegetables; it was just weird.

The real winner was the toasted walnuts on top of the pasta! If you've read my recent recipes, you'll see that out of the blue I am using walnuts frequently. Nuts are EXPENSIVE and I hardly every buy them, let alone cook with them. I was looking for some walnuts for my ravioli recipe and found a large bag of walnuts that were on clearance and half-price. There you go.

What should I have done differently? Any suggestions???

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli

I am very proud of this meal! I had several firsts making this dinner. It was my first time:
  • making ravioli
  • trying winter squash ravioli
  • and eating ravioli that did not come from a can or a freezer-bag.
What can I say? I've led a very sheltered life.
As far as non-desert pumpkin recipes, ravioli seems to be rather popular so I decided I should give it a try. I wanted to keep my version on the cheap side so there were a few alterations I needed to make. The first challenge I had to figure out was what to do about the pasta. I haven't seen fresh pasta sheets in the local markets so that wasn't a possibility. I love making meals from scratch but I'm not ready to tackle homemade pasta. I settled on wonton wrappers because:
  • they're cheap, just $1.89 for a package
  • and I can use them in other recipes.

The ravioli are very delicate and can easily go from ravioli to pumpkin puree with noodle sheets. Trust me. I learned a few things cooking two batches of ravioli that just might help you:

  • Don't overcrowd the pot because they will stick together.
  • When you place the ravioli in the pot, swirl the water a few moments. This will help the ravioli from sticking to each other...and the bottom of the pot. 
  • Be very gentle when taking the ravioli from the cooking water. I used a large slotted spin to remove the ravioli one by one from the pot.
  • Drizzle the ravioli with a little olive oil after cooking so they don't stick together.

Well, if you would like pumpkin-flavored cream cheese soup, try adding cream cheese. Don't fret my friends! I found another use for that pumpkin-cream cheese concoction (you'll have to check back soon to find out)! So, when the cream cheese did not work, I decided the easiest route was to abandon cheese all together because the pumpkin becomes very creamy, anyway, when slow roasted. I just seasoned the pumpkin puree with salt and red pepper flakes. This was simply perfect!

The last challenge was to take care of the sauce. Sage and butter is a traditional topping for winter squash ravioli but I wanted something more substantial. I was already planning on using shallot (totally worth the extra cost in this case) and garlic. I figured out that if I used them in the sauce, I would have less work to do with the filling. I knew the earthy bitterness of the kale would compliment the sweet and creamy pumpkin.

I have to say, this is the best kale I have ever made! Normally, I just use a little olive oil and go from there. This time, I added some butter to the olive oil. Hello! I love my kale but this particular meal had extremely tender and flavorful kale. I am making this kale again. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Ravioli with Kale

by Ace Nation
Keywords: vegetarian winter squash wonton wrapper

    For the Ravioli
    • Wonton wrappers
    • About 1 cup roasted pumpkin puree
    • Kosher salt
    • Red pepper flakes or ground black pepper, to taste
    For the Kale
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 large shallot, cut into half-moon slices
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 cups kale (per person), chopped
    • 1/4 cup walnuts (per person), toasted and chopped
    For the Ravioli
    Season the pumpkin puree with kosher salt and red pepper flakes (or black pepper) to taste.
    Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of seasoned puree in middle of a wonton wrapper.
    Dip a finger in water and run around the edges of one half.
    Fold one corner over so that it lines up with the opposite corner.
    Press the edges together firmly with your fingers to seal. Set aside finished ravioli and continue the process until you have the desired amount of ravioli.
    To cook Ravioli
    Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil. Place ravioli in water being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook about 3 minutes (time may change depending on the brand of wrappers). Very carefully remove from water using a large slotted spoon. Drizzle with olive oil to prevent the ravioli from sticking to each other.
    For the Kale
    Heat olive oil and butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium-low to medium heat.
    Add the shallot to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.
    Add garlic, stirring occasionally, cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
    Add kale to the pan and season with kosher salt. Place lid on pan and let cook until kale is tender, stirring every few minutes, about 8-10 minutes.
    To serve
    Place desired amount of ravioli on a plate (about 6-8 per person), top with sauteed kale, and garnish with toasted walnuts.
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    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Smoothie

    If you like pumpkin, MAKE THIS SMOOTHIE. Period. I will not believe you are a pumpkin fan until you try this. I normally avoid smoothies unless it's my Pineapple-Coconut Smoothie as I like to see what my food looked like and I also enjoy the act of chewing but I will make an exception for this pumpkin smoothie.

    I am moderately to highly obsessed (depending on the day) with The Pioneer Woman. She had posted her recipe for a pumpkin smoothie some time ago. Of course, I read her post but dismissed her recipe. A pumpkin smoothie? That sounded weird. Well, when I was trying to find new pumpkin/winter squash recipes, I kept seeing that scrumptious little glass.

    Since all the Pioneer Woman recipes I've made are delicious and she doesn't know this yet but she's one of my food mentors, I trusted her on this one and I had to try her pumpkin smoothie. 4 smoothies later, I am a pumpkin smoothie believer.

    I even used skim milk and nonfat plain yogurt (1.Lame I know but we're on this let's try to eat healthier kick and 2. If you can find it, Nancy's yogurt is so creamy and delectable even if it is nonfat) and this smoothie still tasted creamy and naughty.

    I am going to leave you with this profound thought: If this pumpkin smoothie was awesome with plain pumpkin puree (with just a hint of spice), I wonder it would taste like with pumpkin butter...?

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Winter Squash Challenge: Recipe Review

    I love baking quick breads. My arsenal includes banana bread, apple sauce bread, and carrot bread. Why? They're easy to make and cheap! So, when I was planning on a winter squash challenge, I thought I would add pumpkin bread to the mix.

    I came across a recipe for Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread on Cookie and Kate. I picked this recipe for several reasons:
    • Quick breads can easily go from healthy to a desert-y indulgence. I wanted a bread I could pack in my lunch without feeling guilty and this fit the bill.
    • I really liked Kate's suggestions of spices! I wouldn't have thought of adding ginger.
    • I had just purchased my first bag of whole wheat pastry flour. Normally, I substitute flours and I was happy to try a recipe that called for whole wheat flour. 
    • One of the ingredients is millet! I have to admit, I haven't tried this bread with the millet yet. I wanted to get an idea of what this bread tasted like before becoming more adventurous. Next time, I am definitely trying it with the millet!

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    Roasting a Pumpkin

    I'm sure like many of you, one of my favorite Halloween traditions was pumpkin carving. Picking out the perfect pumpkin was quite the ordeal. Every year my elementary school would have some sort of fundraiser, loading the school stage with hay bales and pumpkins. I would usually pick out the biggest pumpkin there and somehow convince my mom that I needed at least three of them. I can hear it now: Z. telling me I haven't changed at all with that exasperated sigh that I find endlessly entertaining.

    Carving would wait until a Friday or Saturday night because this undertaking required an entire evening. We covered the entire table with layers of newspapers. I couldn't wait to get my little hands inside the pumpkin, scooping out slimy, stringy seeds. When that task was done, I would draw a face on the pumpkin that I would then carve. I had no creativity when it came to drawing nor the skills required so I usually ended up with lot of geometric shapes: triangle eyes and a big smiling mouth with triangle-shaped teeth.

    I couldn't wait to turn the lights off and see my pumpkin glowing for the first time. I always made a concerted effort to place the tea light in just the right spot where you could not see it when looking directly at the pumpkin. Then, my pumpkins would be placed on the front stoop, decorating our concrete steps until a few days after Halloween. I was always a little sad to see those soft, now off-colored squashes be thrown away.

    This year, instead of making a jack-o-lantern, I tried roasting a pumpkin. I was home alone for an entire weekend and the pumpkin adventure helped keep me entertained. Currently, I have tried four new pumpkin recipes, five if you include roasting the thing.

    I love the homemade pumpkin puree I created. I think all my recipes benefited from having the freshest pumpkin possible and the roasting brought out the pumpkin's sweetness and depth. I definitely would not recommend this to someone who is not comfortable in the kitchen or does not want to dedicate an entire afternoon to a pumpkin. If it tells you anything about how delicious the pumpkin was, I'm roasting another pumpkin or two before they disappear for the season.

    To begin, I removed the seeds. My pumpkin was too large just to cut in half so I ended up slicing it in thirds. The difficulty in cutting the pumpkin would be my biggest reason for not recommending this recipe to those not as experienced in the kitchen. I took my time, getting a cut started, then after making sure all fingers were accounted for and out of the way, I kind of wedged the knife and split a section of the pumpkin open.

    After I had my wedges of pumpkin, I scooped out the seeds and pulp. I never liked our homemade roasted pumpkin seeds with the outside white shell. I do love pepitas so I tried hulling the pumpkin seeds myself. FAILURE ALERT. I looked up many different tips and suggestions on how to hull pumpkin seeds. The directions were all very similar. So, I washed the seeds, boiled them for 30 minutes, and tried to open the shells (a few folks that I came across suggested waiting for the clean seeds to dry then gently crushing the shells). The hull was very soft but unless there was a tear, the inner seed or pepita did not want to come out. It was infuriating work so I gave up.

    The rest of the roasting process was simple. I sprayed the cut sides of the pumpkin with nonstick cooking spray, placed the pumpkin chunks cut-side down on a baking sheet, and placed in a oven that had been preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To get really soft pumpkin, I'm talking I started creating pumpkin mash just by pressing the pumpkin with a finger, I let it roast for about 1 hour. I removed the baking sheet from the oven and let the pumpkin cool until I could touch the flesh. I then removed the skin.

    Here's another tip: Let the pumpkin cool and the skin comes off very easily.

    I had removed about half of the pumpkin from the oven after about 45 minutes. My intention was that half the pumpkin would be puree and the other half would be more firm and diced. Well, that plan did not work so well. The pumpkin was very soft and then didn't have much texture when I tried cooking with it. I only made one recipe with diced pumpkin. I'm not giving up! I'll just have to cook it even less next time.

    In batches, I pureed the pumpkin in my food processor/blender until very smooth. The pumpkin was so soft and tender that this took hardly any time but I did have to frequently scrape down the sides to make sure the whole batch was processed. As this was a smaller pumpkin and I had lots of recipes to make, I stored the fresh pumpkin puree in the refrigerator. If I was planning on keeping the puree longer, I would suggest freezing the puree in freezer bags and laying them flat. If I am freezing something with a more liquid texture, I can pretty easily break off the amount of food I'd like to use when frozen in a freezer bag. This is what I did with my pumpkin puree for my pumpkin smoothie.

    I roasted a second pumpkin alongside a second squash I picked up from the farmer' market called a sunset squash (future ingredient in barley risotto!). This second time I preheated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I found that this didn't change much for the pumpkin but I preferred the results for the smaller squash. The squash had more of that caramelized brown color I wanted while remaining firm after cooking for 20 minutes.


    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Winter Squash Challenge: Dal with Winter Squash

    Growing up, the most adventurous my family was with winter squash was pumpkin pie and roasting pumpkin seeds from a jack-o-lantern, occasionally. I had no idea what to do with the acorn squash I would find every fall in the super market. One fall, I decided I could try an acorn squash for $1. The only recipe I knew or my friends knew was to roast the squash with brown sugar and butter. Picture it: a college student sitting home alone of the couch with a bright red plastic plate with half a golden brown acorn squash. Even though I made a very pretty squash, that didn't make my list of favorite meals, too boring.

    When I found very inexpensive squash last fall, I decided to use that as a learning opportunity. I fell in love with acorn squash! Here are some of my adventures from last fall:
    My discovery this fall has been delicata squash. I love the versatality and flavor of this heirloom squash and have used it many meals, like:
    And I have more to share! The challenge to try as many new winter squash and pumpkin recipes has begun! As I am typing, my pumpkin is roasting away in the oven. I already have two delicious meals planned!

    One of my favorite smells in the world: browning onions.

    After making Roasted Ragout of Winter Squash and Chickpeas, I discovered bold, earthy flavors like curry and garam masala provide a delicious counter-balance to winter squash's sweetness. I decided to try creating a variation of a Cheap Not Frugal Eat staple by adding winter squash. That is how Dal with Winter Squash was born.

    Almost any dal or combination of dal could be used in this recipe. I used mung dal because it doesn't take as long as some other dals and I love the texture. Mung dal will keep some of its toothsome texture while creating a creamy dal.

    Almost done!
     If you want a really creamy dal, try red lentils. They are also quick cooking like mung but break down when cooked. Yellow split peas would be another great choice. They just require a longer cooking time than I was willing to dedicate. And, they are one of the cheapest dal! If you can't find any of these dal, brown lentils would be a great choice too. If you are going the brown lentil route, I would look to my recipe for Brown Lentil and Yellow Split Pea Dal for direction. Enjoy!

    Dal with Winter Squash

    by Ace Nation
    Keywords: vegan beans/lentils/dal winter squash

    Ingredients (serves 2-3)
    • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
    • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 fresh red chile, such as Fresno or cherry pepper
    • 1/2 delicata squash, about 1 cup squash, roasted and cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1 cup mung dal
    • 4 cups water, or more as needed
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 2 teaspoons curry powder, such as Madras curry powder
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • Kosher salt, to taste
    Heat 2-3 tablespoons canola oil in a soup pot over medium-low to medium heat. Adjust heat as needed while cooking to make sure the pot does not get too hot and the food burns. Add onions and season liberally with salt. Cook until brown and soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Add chile and garlic. Cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
    If the pan is dry, add a drizzle of oil, add spices to this oil, and let cook only 30 seconds to one minute.
    Add water and mung dal. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, cook 10-12 minutes.
    Add roasted squash to the dal and continue cooking until dal is tender, about 10 more minutes.
    Serve with basmati rice and enjoy!
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