Wednesday, September 18, 2019

September 19, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Broccoli Raab!


Cooking With This Week's Box


Italian Garlic: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry; HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce; Potato Leek Pizza; Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab; Cauliflower Patties; Garlic and Lemon Roasted Broccoli Romanesco

Yellow Onions: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below)



Tomatoes: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry







Sweet Peppers: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry; Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon and Bacon; Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab


Broccoli Raab: Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below); Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab



Welcome back to another week of cooking!  We are officially two-thirds of the way through the 2019 CSA season.  Can you believe it?!  Things are happening fast here at the farm.  Summer crops are winding down and as they do, fields are cleaned up, cover crops are seeded and we’re getting ready to put them to bed for the winter.  Root crop harvest is underway and we continue the transition to fall vegetables and dishes.  This week we’re featuring broccoli raab, a vegetable we started growing because customers were asking for it!  We’ve found fall is the best tasting time of year to grow this vegetable.  This week’s recipe is a main dish Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs (see below).  While many gratins are rich and creamy, this is a lighter gratin.  Imagine you’re sitting on the coast of Italy when you eat it, sipping a glass of red wine.  This gratin features sweet peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic that are then combined with broccoli raab and either beans or ground pork.  The acidity of the vegetables mellows out the broccoli raab and the crunchy topping helps bring it altogether.  I also want to mention this recipe we featured last year for Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab.  It’s easy and delicious and you might just find it can be a family favorite.

Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramelized Pecans
Last week we featured kabocha squash along with a recipe for Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramelized Pecans.  If you didn’t have a chance to try this yet, I’d recommend you add it to this week’s list.  It’s super easy to make and very tasty.  If you prefer to use the kabocha squash in something more savory, consider this dish for One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry.

I’ve been waiting for our Korean peppers to ripen to red, as that is when I believe they have the best flavor.  Thankfully they’re ready to send to you this week!  If this looks like a lot of hot peppers, don’t worry, I’m going to tell you what to do with them!  Last year when we featured this vegetable I shared two simple recipes.  The first is for a HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce.  This is very similar to gouchujang, a traditional Korean chili paste that is used extensively in Korean inspired cuisine.  Last year I made a batch of this and then divided it into small jars and put it in the freezer.  I thawed them one at a time and used little bits at a time when I needed some heat in a dish.  I also used it to make these Spicy Korean Style Gochujang Meatballs.  They were so delicious!  Tuck this recipe away and make these meatballs for your 2020 Super Bowl Party!  The other recipe you can make with the Korean chili peppers is for Salt-Cured Chiles.  I kept a jar of these in my refrigerator all winter long and just pulled from it little by little whenever I needed a little heat in a stir-fry, taco meat, etc.  Even if you aren’t into hot peppers, I encourage you to make one or both of these recipes and use the peppers throughout the fall and winter.  While these are hot peppers, they are very flavorful and you can get the effect of the flavor without burning your tongue off!  Adjust how much you use to your liking.

Jalapeno Popper Dip
photo from delish.com
While we’re talking hot peppers, lets deal with jalapenos too!  How about this recipe for Jalapeno Popper Dip?!  This would be another good Super Bowl party recipe.  Freeze the jalapenos and you can make it this winter!

I always think about using leeks in a traditional potato leek soup, but I probably wouldn’t have thought to make Potato Leek Pizza!  One of our members posted her version of Potato Leek Pizza which included bacon.  What a great idea!  I also remembered this recipe for Carbonara with Leeks, Lemon and Bacon.  This was a popular recipe when we posted it several years and it’s perfect for this week because it also includes corn and sweet peppers!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to eat baby arugula.  I like the flavor of arugula better once we start to have more mild temperatures and the pungency and bite of arugula pairs well with fall fruit such as apples, cranberries and pears.  This week I’m going to use the baby arugula to make this Arugula Salad with Walnuts, Blue Cheese, and Cranberries.  This would be delicious as a side along with a pasta or pizza dinner.

It’s nice to have lettuce back as an option for salads as well.  The Green Boston Lettuce this week has tender, more delicate leaves, thus is best used with a light vinaigrette instead of a heavy creamy dressing.  Use it to make this Boston Lettuce Salad with Citrus Honey Vinaigrette.

Cauliflower Patties
photo by Mark Weinberg, from food52.com
Last, but not least, we’re happy to have cauliflower and broccoli Romanesco coming in!  I came across this recipe for Cauliflower Patties.  I’ve never used cauliflower for anything like this, but they look cheesy, garlicky and delicious.  Paired with one of the aforementioned salads, they would be a great dinner option.  I also like just a simple roasted broccoli Romanesco, so might just have to do this recipe for Garlic and Lemon Roasted Broccoli Romanesco.

That’s a wrap folks.  If you haven’t done so already, be sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, September 29 and plan to join us for a fun day at the farm as we celebrate fall with our annual Harvest Party!  I’m planning to make a delicious vegetable chili featuring 20 different vegetables!  Think I can pull that off?  Come find out and see if you can guess all 20 vegetables!  

Have a great week—Andrea 

Vegetable Feature: Broccoli Raab



In this week’s box you’ll find a big bunch of green leaves.  Wondering what it is?  It’s broccoli raab!  While its name would lead you to believe it’s a type of broccoli, it actually is in the mustard family.  It is considered to be a slightly spicy bitter green, although this effect is minimized by growing it in cooler  temperatures.  We find the flavor of this green to be more balanced and pleasing when we grow it in the fall compared to when we grew it in the spring and summer.  If you look closely near the base of the stem, you just might see a little broccoli-like head starting to push up through the center of the plant.

While this green may be found all over the world, it’s typically associated with Italian food, a region of the world where this green is quite popular.  Broccoli Raab pairs well with ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, almonds, olives, white beans, sausage or pork cuts and red pepper flakes.  When you’re looking at recipes that use broccoli raab, you’ll typically find many of these ingredients.  In many traditional Italian recipes, broccoli raab is prepared very simply by cooking it along with garlic in olive oil until it is very soft and tender and then is finished with a splash of vinegar.  Fatty olive oil and tangy vinegar help to tone down the bitterness.  While you can eat broccoli raab raw, it is most always cooked. It’s tender enough that it doesn’t require a very long cooking time, unless you prefer to have it super soft!  It can be boiled, steamed or sautéed. Broccoli raab is often used in pasta and bean dishes, but it can also be incorporated into toasted vegetable sandwiches, pizza, soups, etc.

Store this green in a bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.  Wash it well in a sink of cold water, then shake off extra water before using.  Nearly all of the plant is usable.  I generally just trim off the lower portion of the thicker stems.  

Mediterranean Gratin with Almond Breadcrumbs


Yield:  6-8 servings


12 oz penne or other similar pasta
1 pound ground pork OR 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced sweet peppers
1 ½ cups diced tomatoes
½ cup pitted black olives, chopped (optional)
¼ cup fresh or 1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 cup dried bread crumbs or panko
½ cup toasted raw almonds, finely chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup red wine
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 bunch broccoli raab
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. While you assemble the components for the gratin, preheat the oven to 400°F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Once boiling, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes.  You want the noodles to be starting to soften, but you do not want them fully cooked.  Once they are cooked to this point, drain the pasta.  Rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. If you choose to use ground pork, preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the ground pork, then remove it from the pan and set aside.  Clean out the pan and then return it to the heat to proceed with cooking the onions.  If you are not using the pork, just skip this step and move on to step 3.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the preheated skillet.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions.  Saute the onions for 10-14 minutes, or until softened and starting to caramelize.  You may need to reduce the heat to medium low to keep the onions from frying and browning.  Once the onions are softened, add the garlic, red peppers, tomatoes, olives, parsley, 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to the pan.  Saute the vegetables for another 8-10 minutes.
  4. While the vegetables are simmering, you can prepare the topping.  In a small mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, finely chopped almonds, Parmesan Cheese, ½ tsp salt and 1-2 Tbsp olive oil.  Stir to combine.  
  5. Next, add the red wine, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar to the pan with the vegetables.  Continue to simmer for another 10-12 minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft and the liquid has reduced by about half to two-thirds.  
  6. Chop the broccoli raab into bite sized pieces and add to the pan.  Stir to combine.  As the greens wilt down, continue to stir them into the vegetable mixture.  Add the pork or beans, then simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.  Taste a little bit of the mixture and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more vinegar, salt and pepper as needed.  At this point you want there to be some liquid in the pan, but it shouldn’t be soupy.  If it looks like there’s too much liquid, simmer an additional 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  
  7. Put the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl.  Add the hot vegetable mixture.  Stir to combine well and then spread it in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Spread the bread crumb and almond mixture evenly over the top of the pasta mixture.  Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the base is bubbly.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve while warm.
Recipe adapted from one in Mark Bittman’s book Dinner for Everyone.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Winter Squash 101

By Chef Andrea

Butternut Squash
Winter squash…where do I start!?  Growing up we ate squash in basically one of two ways—pie or a simple puree with butter.  It really wasn’t one of my favored foods and I had no idea winter squash could be used in so many ways!  I also had no idea there were so many different kinds of winter squash!  In my world, I only knew buttercup (my mom’s favorite), crookneck (the giant ones my grandma grew to make pies), butternut and acorn (likely the two most well-known).  Now that I’ve expanded my culinary and agricultural boundaries, I realize the world of winter squash has so much more to offer, both in variety and culinary experiences.  So, if you’re in the group of folks who are yet to embrace winter squash, I encourage you to keep reading.  Trust me, there are so many ways to prepare squash, there have to be at least a few keepers for your recipe collection!

Black Futsu Pumpkin
Last week we officially finished our 2019 winter squash harvest!  Winter squash can easily be damaged by a frost, especially if the vines have started to die back, exposing the squash.  This year the squash were ready well ahead of the first frost and are now safely tucked away in one of our greenhouses for storage.  Over the next few months we’ll be packing a variety of different squash varieties in your boxes, each with different characteristics and attributes.  While there are hundreds of different types of winter squash, we have narrowed the selection to less than 10 categories.  We’re starting off the season with Delicata or Sugar Dumpling and Kabocha squash.  Over the next few months you’ll also receive several different types of butternut squash, spaghetti squash, festival, and the newest kid on the block, black futsu.

Spaghetti Squash
When the seed catalogs come in December, it’s easy to be wooed by all the different varieties.  As we make our selections we have several different criteria in mind.  First of all, we’ve trialed a lot of squash over the years so we tend to stick with some of our historically strong producers, ones that have disease resistance and are high yielding.  But those aren’t the only two qualities we look at.  Of course, it has to taste good!  We are looking for varieties that are both sweet and flavorful.  Spaghetti squash is really the only squash we grow that is not intended to be sweet, but we have chosen the variety we believe has the best flavor!  We also want to keep things interesting for you over the course of the final few months of our CSA season, so we try to grow squash that have different colors, shapes, textures and uses.  While we intend for you to (eventually) eat the winter squash, they can also add beauty to your home in the meantime!

Festival Squash
As we journey through the season, watch your What’s In the Box newsletter for more detailed information about the individual varieties of squash.  For now, I’m going to cover some basic information applicable to most varieties.  First, the ideal temperature for storing squash is between 45° and 55°F. This is a bit more chilly than most of your homes, so know that it’s ok to store them on your kitchen counter at a warmer temperature as long as you keep your eye on them. You do not want to store squash in the refrigerator or in an uninsulated garage where the temperatures could dip below 45°F once winter sets in. At temperatures less than 45°F squash is vulnerable to chill injury. You need to check in on your squash periodically.  If you notice any sort of a spot starting to form or any signs of deterioration, you need to intervene immediately. A small spot doesn’t mean the squash is bad or needs to be composted, rather it means you need to eat it right away! Just cut away the bad spot and use the rest. If you leave it unattended, the spot will continue to grow and consume your squash….which is what we do not want to happen! Even if you are not quite ready to eat the squash, I encourage you to cook it anyway. Winter squash is a great vegetable to cook in advance and freeze. It’s super quick and easy to pull precooked squash out of the freezer in the middle of the winter and heat it up to eat as a side dish or incorporate it into baked goods or other dishes. The main thing is, don’t let it go to waste! If I have a pile of squash on my counter, I like to bake a lot at one time…the oven is already hot, and if you’re going to make a mess it’s better to clean up just once!

Butterkin Squash
Before we officially move on from the topic of storage, it’s important to understand that not all winter squash are intended for long term storage.  There are some squash varieties that naturally have a thinner skin and/or higher sugar content.  Typically, these are the squash that will taste the best right out of the field.  However, these are not the varieties of squash we would expect to store well into the winter.  The thicker the skin, the greater protection for the squash.  We handle squash very carefully when we’re harvesting and packing it, taking care not to damage the skin which can become an entry point for bacteria and cause the squash to deteriorate.  But life happens and chances are your squash may get a bump along the way, which is why we encourage you to stay in tune with your squash!  Squash that are high in natural sugars are great, but typically don’t have as long of a life.  So that’s another consideration to keep in mind when storing squash.  Finally, the storage potential of squash is directly related to field conditions.  If we’ve had a wet, cold season and there is leaf disease in the field, the squash are generally more vulnerable to decay in storage and won’t last as long.  In other years that are more dry and we see less disease pressure, we see very little decay in storage and can often store squash until the next spring!

Orange Kabocha Squash
Now that you know how to store squash, lets talk about eating it!  Winter squash is easy to cook and you have several options. The method I employ most frequently is to simply cut the squash in half, scrape out the seed cavity, and bake it.  I place it, cut side down, in a baking dish and add a little bit of water to the pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan and come up about ¼-½ an inch on the squash. I bake it in the oven at about 350°F until it is tender when poked with a fork. Once tender, I remove them from the oven and flip them over so the cut side is up. I allow them to rest until they are cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh. I usually puree the flesh in a food processor so it is smooth.  Now it’s ready for use in soups, desserts, etc.  This is the easiest method, but you don’t always want puree, sometimes you want chunks or pieces to work with.  Most winter squash needs to be peeled, but there are some varieties with thinner skin that can be eaten.  The Delicata and kabocha squash we’re delivering this week are two varieties that have thinner skin and many people choose not to peel them.  It’s totally up to you! Where I’m going is that squash can be cut into chunks or smaller pieces to be roasted, boiled, steamed, baked or otherwise incorporated into dishes, etc.  I also want to mention that the seeds of many varieties are also edible!  Typically the smaller squash have more tender seeds, whereas kabocha seeds generally have a thicker skin and are not as tasty.   Once you scoop them out, rinse them to remove any flesh, then dry them in a dehydrator or just air dry.  After they are dried, you can toast them as you would toast any other nut or seed either in a hot pan on the stove top or in the oven.

Tetsukabuto Squash
As with many different vegetables, I always like to look around the world to see how different cultures use squash.  Squash is one of those vegetables that is found worldwide, so there are a lot of different possibilities to explore!  I’m fascinated by Japanese culture and was interested to find out that two of our new squash trials this year are actually varieties originating in Japan.  The Black Futsu Pumpkin is a Japanese heirloom variety and Tetsukabuto means “steele helmet” in Japanese.  It was touted as the “squash to survive the apocalypse” by the seed catalog, which is another way of indicating that it has the potential to be stored for a really long time!  In Japan, kabocha squash in particular is a common food and is often eaten as a side dish.  It is also prepared with tempura.  You’ll also find winter squash in Asian cuisine such as Thai curries and stir-fries.  It’s also a part of the diets of different European countries where it is used to make gratins, silky soups, souffles, desserts and more.  Winter squash is also part of Middle Eastern cultures, showing up in Arabic stews and preparations alongside ingredients such as lamb, tahini, and pomegranate.

Heart of Gold Squash
Winter squash can be incorporated into any meal of the day!  Use it to make frittatas, quiche and breakfast casseroles or stir squash puree into oatmeal or even a breakfast smoothie! You can incorporate winter squash into desserts such as the flan recipe featured in our vegetable feature about kabocha squash.  Some varieties are also delicious to use for making cheesecake, breads, cookies, cakes, pies and more.  Roasted squash can become a topping for pizza, or use it to make quesadillas and pasta dishes.  Don’t be afraid to incorporate squash into preparations like risotto, croquettes, fritters and dumplings.

If you ever find yourself wondering what to do with winter squash and can’t find ANYTHING to make with it, give me a call or send me an email.  I’m certain I can find something you can make with it!

September 12, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Orange Kabocha Squash!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green Top Red or Gold Beets: Beet Pesto & Greens Pasta


Red & Yellow Onions: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below); Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes; Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; Pasta with Swiss Chard & Corn; 15 Minute Lo Mein


Red or Orange Italian Frying Peppers: Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad; 15 Minute Lo Mein


Purple Viking Potatoes:  Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes

Jalapeno Peppers: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below)

Poblano Peppers: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below); Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza




Orange Kabocha Squash: Deborah Madison’s Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans (see below); Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza

Delicata Squash: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below)


Cilantro: Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below); Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce; Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza

Lets kick off this week’s Cooking With the Box discussion with two simple recipes that just might have a chance at being family favorites.  Lets start with dessert first.  Last year I found Deborah Madison’s recipe for Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans (see below).  It was actually a sweet potato flan recipe, but it is just as delicious with winter squash as it is with sweet potatoes!  I adapted the name to “Fall Flan” and here you go.  I really like this recipe because it’s very simple and streamlined.  Basically all the flan ingredients go into the blender to be mixed, then you pour it directly into custard cups or ramekins and bake it in the oven.  Once it’s baked and cooled, you can serve it with a dollop of maple yogurt (simply stir maple syrup into plain yogurt) and, if you want to go all out, make the caramelized pecans to put on top.  If you’re short on time you could also just do a spoonful of premade vanilla yogurt and some simple chopped nuts.  Besides being simple to make, I like this recipe because it relies on the sweetness of the vegetable along with a little maple syrup to give it its sweetness.  Aside from the touch of sugar on the nuts, there is no refined sugar in the recipe!  I also like it because it can be dessert, an after-school snack, or you could even have it in the morning for breakfast.  It’s delicious eaten warm, at room temperature, or chilled.  You could even bake it in short pint jars so you can put a lid on it and take it to go for lunch!

The second recipe we’re featuring this week is a Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapenos & Chipotle Crema (see below).  Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe.  There are multiple steps to get all of the quesadilla components prepped, but once you have the components it takes no time to make the quesadilla.  This is a good recipe to prep on the weekends so you can pull off a simple, hot dinner in 15 minutes or less during the week!  This recipe calls for delicate squash, but you could also use sugar dumpling, butternut or even kabocha squash in its place. The key is to keep the slices of squash thin.

If you aren’t feeling like quesadillas this week, how about pizza?  This recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Poblano Pizza also caught my eye and is a great recipe for this week’s vegetables.  It calls for butternut squash, but you could use roasted kabocha squash or even the delicate in its place.  Top it off with some crumbles of queso fresco and fresh cilantro for a tasty vegetable pizza!

Tomato  Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas
Photo from naturallyella.com
I have to admit, tomatoes have been a challenge this year and we haven’t been able to offer you the variety and quantity we had planned for.  Nonetheless, we’re thankful for what we have and still can enjoy a few old favorite recipes as well as a few new ones!  This past week I came across this simple, yet flavorful, recipe for Tomato Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas.  While the rice is cooking, you mix fresh garlic with lemon, chopped walnuts, basil and olive oil.  That makes a dressing of sorts that is tossed with tomatoes, cooked rice and chickpeas.  This makes a delicious vegetarian main dish, or you could serve a smaller portion as a side dish along with chicken, fish or steak.  Any kind of tomato can work in this dish.

While we’re talking about tomatoes, I should mention this recipe for Cod with Leeks and Tomatoes.  This is a light dinner option featuring the lean cod with tangy tomatoes and silky leeks.  A nice, light simple meal to mark the final days of summer.

What do you do when you only have a few ears of corn to work with?  Use the corn as an accent ingredient instead of the main attraction!  I love adding a small amount of fresh corn to dishes because it lends a little pop of sweetness, color and a little texture contrast.  Here is a simple recipe for Pasta with Swiss Chard & Corn.  This is a pretty quick and easy recipe to assemble.  If you have some leftover chicken or steak you could toss it in for a little extra protein, or even stir in a can of tuna.  Here’s another take on corn with pasta in this Bell Pepper & Corn Pasta Salad.  This is a colorful salad featuring sweet peppers, red onions, corn and fresh herbs.  The recipe calls for basil and parsley, but if you could also use some of the cilantro in this week’s box if you like.  Take this for lunch along with a deli meat sandwich or serve it for dinner with a grilled burger. 

Restorative Rainbow Chard and Leek Soup
photo from quitegoodfood.co.nz
I love chard because it can be used in so many different ways, both raw and cooked.  If you haven’t yet found a use for it this week, consider making this Restorative Rainbow Chard & Leek Soup.  I like to balance some rich meals with some lighter meals and this soup works for that purpose.  Silky leeks mingle with the chard leaves which soften in the hot broth.  Arborio rice adds some starch and body to the soup and it’s finished with fresh herbs.

It must be a pasta kind of week!  I have two more recipes based on pasta.  Check out this colorful Beet Pesto & Greens Pasta!  This recipe uses both the beet roots and the green tops!  While we typically make pesto from green leafy vegetables, this recipe turns the root into a “pesto” type sauce that is tossed with the pasta and the greens are wilted in with the hot sauce and pasta.  This will definitely be an attention getter!

And the final pasta recipe of the week, 15 Minute Lo Mein.  I like vegetable lo mein because you can eat it hot or at room temperature and you can toss in any vegetables you want!  Carrots, sweet peppers, onions, etc are excellent options for the week, but you could also include the leeks.  Kids will love this recipe too, I mean who doesn’t love a bowl of noodles!

Ok, we’re rolling into the home stretch.  If pasta wasn’t comforting enough, read on for a few more  comfort food ideas!  Mashed potatoes anyone?  I had forgotten about this recipe for Sweet Pepper Mashed Potatoes that I developed several years ago.  Purple Viking potatoes are a great choice for this recipe.  You can use either the Ukraine or Italian Frying peppers to make this recipe.  These potatoes are light and fluffy and full of flavor!  Serve these with Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce for a complete meal option.

Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks
photo from shewearsmanyhats.com
I grew up in a meat and potatoes Mennonite community.  At nearly every celebration dinner or potluck they would serve either mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes.  So, if you don’t make the mashed potatoes this week, consider Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks!

Ok, we started this week’s chat with something sweet, so lets end it on a sweet note as well!  Lets turn those carrots into some kind of a baked treat this week.  Perhaps a loaf of this Carrot Coconut Bread or this Easy Carrot Coffee Cake.  Both would be a great option to enjoy as you sip your Sunday morning coffee, read the newspaper and embark on a day of relaxation.

And that officially brings us to the bottom of another box.  I’ll see you back again next week!  Cross your fingers for a little more corn and get ready for the Korean chili peppers!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Orange Kabocha Squash

By Andrea Yoder

This week we’re packing one of our longtime favorite squash varieties, orange kabocha.  You’ll recognize this squash by its bright orange skin and rounded, disc-like shape.  This variety is also sometimes called a Japanese Pumpkin and is similar to other squash varieties such as orange kuri and buttercup.  The flesh is dark orange in color and has a silky, custard-like texture when cooked.

This is a versatile squash and may be used for a variety of preparations including soup, puree, baked goods, curries, stews or simply roasted.  Most of the time this variety may be used in recipes that call for buttercup, butternut, or orange kuri as well as any recipe calling for pumpkin.  The flavor of this squash is excellent and surpasses even the best tasting pumpkin.

There are several ways you can cook this squash. My easy, low maintenance method is to just cut the squash in half, remove the seed cavity and put the squash halves, cut side down, in a baking dish.  Add a little bit of water to the pan and bake the squash at 350°F until the squash is soft and tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and turn the halves over so they can cool.  Once cool enough to handle, scoop the cooked flesh out of the shell and either mash or puree the flesh.  You can use it to make a simple squash puree seasoned with spices of your choosing and a pat of butter.  Orange kabocha puree can also be used in baked goods and desserts.  This rich, sweet flesh makes a delicious pie filling and yields rich, moist, flavorful quickbreads, muffins, pudding and soufflé.


One Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry
Aside from baking, kabocha squash may also be roasted or simply steamed.  In Japanese cuisine, kabocha squash are also referred to as Japanese pumpkins.  Known for their simple, clean preparations, you’ll find Japanese recipes for kabocha squash to be equally as simple with just a few ingredients.  Slices or chunks of kabocha squash are often steamed or simmered in a simple dashi broth with kombu seaweed and sometimes miso, soy sauce and sometimes sake.  This is a classic and common way to prepare kabocha squash in Japan.  It is often a component in Japanese bento boxes (healthy Japanese take out) and is often served as a side dish.  You can also roast kabocha squash as you would prepare any other root vegetable or potato for roasting.  When prepared this way the exterior of the squash gets nice and crispy while the flesh inside stays moist and sweet.

While this squash can usually be held for longer storage, I would encourage you to eat this week’s selection sooner than later.  We’ve already seen some of them starting to deteriorate, so watch them carefully and if you notice any spots starting to form on the exterior, cut that area out of the squash and cook the remainder immediately.  

Fall Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans

Yield:  6 servings

The Flan:
1 cup cooked, mashed winter squash (kabocha or butternut) or sweet potatoes
⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground ginger
¼ cup maple syrup
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Sea salt

Caramel Pecans & Maple Yogurt:
1 tsp butter
½ cup pecans
1 tsp sugar
Sea salt
1 cup yogurt
1 Tbsp maple syrup
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F.  In a blender, combine the squash or sweet potato, spices, maple syrup, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt and puree until smooth.  Divide the puree among six custard dishes.
  2. Put the custard dishes in a baking pan and pour hot water into the pan until it reaches at least an inch up the sides of the dishes.  Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes.  The flans should be set and barely quiver when shaken.  Remove from the oven and let cool.
  3. While the flans are cooling, melt the butter in a small pan over low heat.  Add the pecans, dust them with the sugar, and turn to coat evenly.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has melted, caramelized, and coats the nuts.  Turn the nuts out onto a plate, add a pinch or two of salt, and let cool.  Chop finely or coarsely, as you like.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and the yogurt.  Taste, and add more maple syrup if you wish.  Serve the flan topped with a spoonful of maple yogurt and a little heap of chopped crisped pecans.  

This recipe is an adaptation of one originally published by Deborah Madison in her book, Vegetable Literacy.

Squash & Poblano Quesadilla with Pickled Jalapeños & Chipotle Crema



Yield:  4-6 servings



2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1-2 delicata or sugar dumpling squash, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
2 poblano peppers, deseeded and sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
3-4 Tbsp sunflower oil, divided
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 can (16 oz) refried black beans
⅓ cup water
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
8-12 small corn or flour tortillas

Pickled Jalapeños (optional):
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup white vinegar

Chipotle Crema:
½ cup sour cream
¼ tsp chipotle powder
Juice of ½ a lime
Salsa, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. If making the pickled jalapeño, put salt and vinegar in a bowl, stir to dissolve the salt.  Add the jalapeño slices and let set until ready to serve.
  3. Prepare the spice mixture by combining garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, brown sugar and salt in a small bowl.  Note:  Half of the spice mixture will be used for roasting the squash and onions.  The remainder will be used for the refried beans.
  4. Place squash slices in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle with sunflower oil and sprinkle with about ¼ of the spice mixture.  Toss to combine and coat the squash pieces evenly, then spread in an even layer on one of the baking sheets.  Repeat the process with the sliced onions and poblano peppers, spreading them in an even layer on the second baking sheet.
  5. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes or until slightly browned and cooked through.  Once the vegetables are done, remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  6. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the refried beans.  Add 1 Tbsp oil to a small pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and sautè for 1-2 minutes.  Add the remaining spice mixture and the beans.  Stir for a minute.  Add water and bring to a simmer.  Let the beans simmer over low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.  Remove from heat and set aside.  
  7. While the beans are simmering, make the crema.  Combine sour cream, chipotle powder and lime in a bowl.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.
  8. Prepare the quesadillas:  Spread a thin layer of refried beans on each of four-six tortillas (depending on the size).  Divide and evenly spread the squash, onions and peppers on each tortilla.  Top each with shredded cheese, then press another tortilla on top, gently. 
  9. Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Add just enough oil to lightly coat the pan.  Once the oil shimmers, carefully place the quesadilla in the pan, cheese side down.  Cook until the bottom side is golden brown, then carefully turn the quesadilla and repeat on the other side.  Repeat the process until all quesadillas are toasted.
  10. Cut each quesadilla into halves or quarters and serve, hot, with the crema, pickled jalapeño slices, cilantro and salsa of your choosing.
Recipe adapted from tuttalavita.ca