One thing that really stumped me when I first started along this path to eating more locally and seasonally is how to cook local produce that is in season. Luckily, I have a computer and some great cooks in my phone book and have been able to find interesting and delicious ways to prepare local ingredients that you may not usually pick up from the produce isle.
When working with late Winter produce, my general rule is “bake at 350 for 40 minutes then serve with butter, salt and pepper” (try this with the turnips that are in right now and you won’t be disappointed). This is the easiest way to deal with the vegetables that are common this time of year but there are many other things you can do with these gems. I have put one recipe below (one of my favorites) and will add more weekly.
Disclaimer: I am not a chef nor do I claim to be one. I am, however, very lucky to have grown up with a mother that cooked from scratch each night as well as a best friend who might as well open her own restaurant. I draw on their ideas and suggestions as well as some key books (see later posts!) for my ideas and try to keep my recipes as simple as possible.
Butternut Squash Soup (V)
I love this recipe because it fits perfectly into my evenings and is incredibly nutritious. The initial steps are far apart in time so you can do other chores, work out, or just read a book while the squash cooks, cools, and simmers. Though this looks like a lot of steps, it is very easy and once you’ve made the recipe once, you will never need to look at it again. The other good thing about this one is that you can use vegetable or chicken stock or broth; I have tried all of the above in different combinations and it just doesn’t matter. You can get the butternut squash from Houston Farms at the Atherton Market or at any supermarket. These gems are in season from early Fall through Winter. Nova's Bakery's whole wheat bread is a perfect side for this soup because it is a little bitter and thus compliments the sweetness of the squash.
1 whole butternut squash (cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed)
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup shallots, leeks or onions (or any combination thereof)
1 teaspoon ginger (optional)
6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth or stock
Salt to taste
- Smear 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet then place the squash halves flat side down on the sheet
- Bake in a 350˚ oven for 30 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin
- Remove the squash and turn over to cool
- In a large pot, heat the oil and then add the shallots, onions and/or leeks and ginger. Heat until soft
- Scoop out the squash and add to the pot along with approximately half of the broth or stock
- Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, pulling the squash apart with a fork
- Using a hand mixer with a single chopping head, mix the soup until smooth
- Add the rest of the broth and heat until at desired temperature, salting to taste
Note: The seeds of butternut squash are completely edible. You need to remove all the squash innards, rinse them then spread on a cookie sheet and cook for 20 minutes at 350˚. Sprinkle a small handful on a bowl of the soup for a little crunch.