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Hearty fare from squash and other winter vegetables

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Cauliflower carrot soup (Barbara Silverstein photo)

Shabbat Shalom! Despite the bitter cold season, produce availability in the supermarket has been pretty good.

Tomatoes aren’t quite as sweet as those of the summer yield, but the grape tomatoes I bought this week have been sweet enough for my salads. Cauliflower has been reasonably priced, and I’m still able to purchase blueberries that taste as good as they look.

The produce at supermarkets may be in abundance, but it’s a different story at the farmer’s markets. The selection of produce is very limited. You can get fresh sprouts, which I buy every week, otherwise the main items on offer are root vegetables and kale.

This week I bought watermelon and purple radishes, a bag of onions, shallots, kale and oblong striped squash called delicata.

This squash gets its name because its rind is soft and edible. That makes delicata easier than other squashes to work with, however, it spoils more quickly.

I found a delicious vegan recipe for a Moroccan Stuffed Delicata Squash from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, and the recipe calls for Moroccan spice called Ras el Hanout. A kosher version of this spice blend by Pereg is available in the kosher sections of some Toronto supermarkets. You can also make your own Ras el Hanout. I’ve included the recipe, which comes from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition site, where I found the delicata squash recipe.

I also made Cauliflower Carrot Soup, a recipe from Meal Leani Yumm! by Norene Gilletz. I chose this recipe because I happened to have leftover cauliflower and celery in my fridge. I always have carrots, onions, and potatoes on hand and other staples like garlic and broth. It’s a really delicious soup and the sweetness of the carrots balance out the cauliflower.

One of my favourite dishes, Onion Gratin, comes from The Eat Yourself Slim Cookbook by Michel Montignac. It’s the cookbook that accompanies a weight loss book by Montignac, who was a pioneer in low carb weight loss plans. The cookbook dates back 20 years, but I make this egg and cheese dish recipe often. It’s quick and nutritious and I often bring this dish or a version of it to pot-luck dinners.

 

MOROCCAN-SPICED STUFFED DELICATA SQUASH

2 delicata squash, halved lengthwise and de-seeded

15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

1 ml (¼ tsp) cinnamon

1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped into small florets

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil

125 ml (½ cup) chopped shallots

3 cloves garlic, minced

15 ml (1 tbsp) Ras el Hanout (recipe below to make your own)

500 ml (2 cups) kale, ribs removed and sliced into ribbons

60 ml (¼ cup) cranberries

60 ml (¼ cup) pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

60 ml (¼ cup) chopped cilantro

1 ml (¼ tsp) sea salt

125 ml (½ cup) fresh squeezed orange juice

5 ml (1 tsp) raw organic honey

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400° F).

If you’re going to make the spice mix, stir all of the spices together. Store in an airtight container. Using your hands, coat the squash inside and out with oil. Season with salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle the inside of the squash with cinnamon.

Roast for 40 minutes, until slightly golden and fork tender. Meanwhile, pulse the cauliflower in the food processor, until it looks like grains of couscous. Set aside. Melt 60 ml (2 tbsp) oil or ghee in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spices and stir until well blended. Add the cauliflower and stir to evenly coat with the spices.

Mix in the kale, cranberries and nuts, and cook about 2 minutes. You may want to add a little water at this point (about (60 ml or ¼ cup), added a little at a time. Cook about 5 minutes, until the kale is just wilted.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add the sea salt, orange juice and honey.

Remove the squash from oven, and fill with the stuffing. Lower the oven temp to 180°C (350° F).

Place the tray of stuffed squash to bake in the oven, for about 10 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

 

RAS EL HANOUT (The Academy of Culinary Nutrition)

10 ml (2 tsp) ground ginger

10 ml (2 tsp) ground cardamon

10 ml (2 tsp) cumin

10 ml (2 tsp) ground mace

5 ml (1 tsp) cinnamon

5 ml (1 tsp) ground allspice

5 ml (1 tsp) ground coriander seeds

5 ml (1 tsp) ground nutmeg

5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric

5 ml (1 tsp) chili powder

2½ ml (½ tsp) ground cayenne pepper

2½ ml (½ tsp)ground anise seeds

1 ml (¼ tsp) ground cloves

Combine all the ingredients well and store in an air-tight container

 

CAULIFLOWER CARROT SOUP (Norene Gilletz)

1 large onion, chopped

1 stock of celery, chopped

½ red pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

10 ml (2 tsp) Canola oil or margarine

1 L (4 cups) cauliflower, cut up (about ½ a cauliflower)

2 potatoes peeled and chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

1250 ml (5 cups) vegetable broth

250 (1 cup) skim or low-fat milk

30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh chopped dill

2½ ml (½ tsp) dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Prepare vegetables. In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add onions, celery and red pepper. Sauté on medium-low heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If necessary, add a little water to prevent sticking. Add garlic and cook 2 or 3 minutes longer.

Add cauliflower, potatoes, carrots and broth to sauteed vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover partially and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Puree part of the soup or use a potato masher to break up the vegetables. Add milk, dill and thyme. Heat until piping hot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 7 to 8 servings. Reheats and freezes well.

READ: BACK TO HEALTHY EATING AFTER SOME NEW YEAR’S INDULGENCE

 

ONION GRATIN (Michel Montignac)

675 g (1½ lbs) onions, sliced

140 g (5 oz) sour cream

6 eggs

112 g (4 oz) grated cheddar or Gruyere cheese

112 g (4 oz) Mozzarella or mild white cheese, thinly sliced

3 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F)

Fry the onions in olive oil in a large skillet over gentle heat, stirring continuously. Cook until golden brown.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, grated cheese and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon transfer the onions from the pan to the bowl. Stir until they completely incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a shallow pan and bake in preheated oven at 300°F for 40 minutes.

Cover egg mixture with slices of white cheese. Place the dish under broiler until cheese melts.

Makes 5 servings

COOKBOOK NEWS

UPDATE: The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory by Norene Gilletz and Ed Wein is not in stores yet. It’s available online at Chapters for $39.95, but shipping will take 1 to 2 weeks. The book can now be purchased on Amazon.

 

CULINARY CALENDAR

Thurs. Jan. 30: Culinary Discoveries hosted by Technion Canada. The evening will focus on the science of food – demos, tastings and explanations from chefs explaining the science behind the dishes. The event takes place 7 to 10 p.m. Location: Kitchen 24 in Toronto. For more information: https://www.technioncanada.org/culinary-discoveries/

Sun. Feb. 9: A Celebration of Canadian Jewish Cookery is the theme for the annual Hungry for Comfort: A Celebration of our Food History. The program takes place 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m at Fort York National Historic Site and will be part of Winterlicious 2020.

Wed. Feb. 12: Shoresh Annual Fundraiser: Taking Root. Time: 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Location: Eglinton West Gallery, 2301 Keele Street. https://shoresh.ca/takingroot

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