Posts Tagged ‘squash’

If harvest season were a novel, this would be the denouement.

For the past few months we’ve had farm-fresh produce delivered right to our door through a CSA with our neighbour’s family farm, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Unpacking the box every Saturday afternoon felt a bit like Christmas: what do we get this week? Raspberries! Baby kale! Golden beets! I’m sure it was just a few weeks ago that the volume and variety of veg in the box reached a fever pitch, but now it’s tapering off, and this week we’ll see our last box.

One thing I have especially enjoyed about the CSA is how seamlessly the season unfolded. First, shoots and greens, then ripe juicy veg, then the hardened and sturdier roots and gourds. Of course, the progression isn’t neat and tidy; along with the last of something you get the first of something else. Like the last of the tomatoes, and the first autumm squash.  This first squash was funny, though – pale, tender flesh like zucchini, skin as tough as an autumn squash. Not quite summer squash, not quite autumn squash.

What to do? Turn on the oven, I thought.

A long slow bake does wonders for both squash and tomatoes, after all. Toss in some leeks, fresh herbs and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and you’ve got yourself a delightful side dish. Or, with a fried egg and some crusty bread, a divine brunch.

Few better ways to say goodbye to summer’s last veg.


Tomato and Squash Gratin
serves 4 as a side dish

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 small leeks, sliced

1 pound summer squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/4 cups grated parmesan
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the leeks: In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, saute the leeks until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Spread the leeks evenly in the botton of an oiled square baking dish, and let them cool.

To assemble the gratin, start with sprinkling some of the chopped herbs over the cooked leeks. Starting at one of the baking dish, lay down a row of slightly overlapping tomato slices,propped up slightly at an angle, and sprinkle them with herbs, salt and pepper. Cover the tomatoes with parmesan. Next, arrange a layer of squash slices over the tomatoes and repeat with the seasonings. Repeat with alternating layers of tomatoes and squash, seasoning and covering with cheese, until the pan is full. Sprinkle the whole thing with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining herbs and cheese, and drizzle the whole thing with olive oil.

Bake for at least an hour, during which time the juices will bubble and reduce significantly, and the top will be well browned.

Can be made in advance and reheated before serving. This gives the flavours even more chance to get acquainted.


Read Full Post »

Don’ t you love this time of year? That time of year when the sad, mealy stonefruit of early fall are replaced by glorious, bumpity squashes? Something about the pile of squashes at the market or the grocery store, with all their varying shades and shapes, makes me feel joyful about autumn – right up there with shooshing through the fallen leaves.

Combine those squashes with the official arrival of Soup Season, and the need to use up the jar of curry paste in my fridge and a can of coconut milk in my pantry, and we have this soup.

This soup is easy to make, and ideal for a Sunday afternoon when you’re futzing around the house. It involves roasting the squash first, which adds sweetness and depth. (In fact, if you’re really into squash, you could roast a double batch – one to to have as a side dish with dinner one night, and one batch for this soup.) It’s a forgiving recipe, too. I like to add the potato for extra starch, which helps make the soup creamy, and the carrot for extra sweetness and colour. But if you don’t have these on hand, just straight squash will be just fine.  However. Essential to this soup are the spices and the coconut milk. Without them, it just won’t be the same. It also helps to have an immersion blender to make the soup nice and smooth.

Coconut curry squash soup
serves 6 to 8.
freezes well.

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2″ chunks
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. mild curry paste (I used Patak’s, but you can use any curry mix you like)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
salt and pepper

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
1 tbsp. mild curry paste
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, diced
6 cups stock or water (In my world, water and a veggie bouillon cube is acceptable for this soup.)
1 can coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

Roast the squash: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating, peel, seed and chop the squash. In a large mixing bowl, toss the squash chunks with the olive oil, curry paste, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash is soft and and browned. (Tip: deglazing the pan with some water and adding the juices to the soup pot is a good thing to do, and adds flavour to your soup.)

Make the soup: In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion until it softens. Add the garlic, ginger and curry paste and cook 1 or 2 minutes until very fragrant. Add the potato and carrot chunks, the roasted squash, water and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 45 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

Taking the soup off the heat, puree with the immersion blender until the soup is completely smooth. If you’re having a dinner party and want to be extra fancy, you can push the puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove some vegetable fibre and make the soup perfectly velvet-smooth. If you just want a bowl of tasty soup, then skip this step. Season to taste. 

Delightful potential garnishes include: chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, a yogurt swirl.

Read Full Post »