Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 5, 2017 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Kabocha Squash

Cooking With This Week's Box

This week’s box has a burst of color with the gorgeous orange kabocha squash!  There are a lot of things you can do with this squash, but this week I’m going to use it to make a simple, seasonal One-Pot Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry (See Below).  This is very easy to make and uses the sweet peppers and tomatoes in this week’s box as well as some of the swiss chard.  Either mini sweet peppers or orange Italian frying peppers will work in this recipe.  This is actually better the second day, so it’s a great dish to make on the weekend and serve for dinner on a night during the week when you know you won’t have a lot of time to cook.  

Tomato and tomatillo season will be quickly coming to an end.  We’re glad to be able to send tomatillos one more time before they’re really finished!  Now that the nights are getting more cool, I’m more in the mood for warm, comforting stews.  One of my favorite recipes is for this Pork & Tomatillo Stew.  The tomatillos help thicken the stew and the carrots, potatoes and pork make it warm and satisfying.  Serve it with corn muffins, corn tortillas or chips on the side. 

Every once in awhile I get hungry for comforting dishes from my childhood.  Growing up in central Indiana, we had many ways to use mayonnaise and nearly every church potluck had several versions of a creamy broccoli and cauliflower salad.  So this week I’m reviving that salad with this Sweet Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad.  My family always encourages me to make it with the bacon, but you could easily leave it out or substitute toasted sunflower seeds instead.  While this recipe calls for both broccoli and cauliflower, you can also make it with just one or the other if you don’t have both in your refrigerator.  This salad goes well with a simple deli meat salad or my mom often served it with barbecued chicken or ribs.

I have to admit I’ve had my fill of fresh salsa, but tacos is a pretty easy go-to dinner during busy times.  To keep it interesting, I often serve tacos with different toppings.  This week I’m going to make some Mexican-Styled Pickled Carrots.  These make a spicy, tangy topping for tacos using this week’s carrots, red onions and jalapenos.  The recipe is for 4 pints, so I’ll probably scale it back to make just 1 pint.  If you want to make more, go for it. They’ll store for several weeks in the refrigerator.

I really enjoy jicama best in its raw form as a salad or slaw.  With the remainder of the sweet peppers in this week’s box, I’m going to make this Jicama & Sweet Pepper Slaw we featured in our newsletter back in 2013.  This slaw goes very well with grilled fish or chicken.

Back in 2011 Chef Bonnie spent the summer with us and developed this recipe for Fresh Turnip Salad with Curry Vinaigrette.  It’s been awhile since I’ve made this, but I have been on a curry kick lately and remembered her salad.  It’s bright and refreshing and utilizes both the turnip tops as well as some salad mix for the base of the salad.  If you want to turn it into a main entrée salad, just add some grilled chicken, fish or even baked tofu or tempeh. 

Lastly, you’ll probably have about half of your bunch of chard remaining if you use it to make the Kabocha Squash and Chickpea Curry recipe I mentioned in the beginning.  If you make some extra rice to serve with the curry dish, you can use the leftovers to make these Chard Leaves Stuffed with Rice and Herbs.  They’ll make a nice option to take for lunches or serve them with a salad for a light dinner.

Ok folks, that’s a wrap.  Get ready for more warm, comforting soups and stews in the weeks to come. Here’s a little tidbit of information to give you something to look forward to.  Word on the street around here is that we’ll be harvesting sweet potatoes next week!  We’ll need some time to “cure” them before they’re ready to eat, but they should be in your boxes within a few weeks!  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Featured Vegetable:  Orange Kabocha Squash 

This week we’re featuring the first of several different varieties of winter squash we grew for you this year.  This week’s selection, orange kabocha squash, is shaped like a plump round disc and has a stunning bright orange skin with deep orange flesh inside.  This is one of our favorite squash varieties because of its excellent eating quality, and in most years, its ability to store for several months.  While we typically don’t deliver this squash until November at the earliest, we’re including it in your boxes earlier because we suspect it may not store as well this year.  We’ve already noticed some spots forming on some of the squash and have been removing them from our storage bins at a greater rate than we normally see at this point in the season.  The storage-ability of a squash is directly related to the growing conditions in the field.  We suspect the rainy wet period we had at the end of July and first of August may have, in some way, impacted the shelf life of this squash this year.  The ones we’ve cooked and eaten have had excellent flavor and sweetness, so we can’t stand to compost them and would rather pass them on to you sooner than later! 

You’ll find kabocha squash to be a very dense squash that will require a little bit of effort to cut into.  Unlike some other winter squash, kabocha squash has a very thin skin that can be either peeled away or just eaten.  The skin is most tender shortly after harvest and toughens up the longer it is in storage, thus may not be as desirable to eat. When cooked, the flesh of kabocha squash is very rich, silky-smooth, sweet and flavorful.  There are several ways you can cook this squash. My go-to 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 the squash 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.  Once the flesh is cooked, 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.  While most recipes won’t call for this squash variety specifically, you can use this squash as a substitute in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or butternut squash.  This rich, sweet flesh makes a delicious pie filling and yields rich, moist, flavorful quickbreads or muffins. 

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.  You can also roast kabocha squash as you would prepare any other root vegetable or potato for roasting.

I’ll take a minute to mention squash seeds.  While we usually encourage you to save the seeds from your winter squash and roast them to make a crunchy snack, I have to admit I don’t care for the seeds from a kabocha squash.  They have a thicker hull and are more tough and less enjoyable to eat.  Save your efforts for some of the other squash that will come later such as the sugar dumpling, festival and butternut squash.

Winter squash is an important part of our fall and winter diets from both nutritional and culinary perspectives.  They are rich in carotenoids, the nutrient compound that gives their flesh its orange color.  They are also good sources of Vitamins A & C as well as potassium, manganese, folate and a variety of B vitamins.  This squash pairs well with other fall fruits and vegetables including apples, pears, herbs, and onions. 

For longer storage, winter squash is best stored in a cool, dry location at about 45-55°F.  However you can also keep them on your kitchen counter and enjoy their beauty if you are going to eat them within a few days or weeks.  I would encourage you to eat this week’s selection sooner than later.  Watch them and if you notice any spots starting to form on the exterior, cut that area out of the squash and cook the remainder immediately.  If you aren’t ready to eat squash yet, consider baking your squash and pureeing the flesh.  You can put the pureed squash in a freezer bag or container and pop it in the freezer.  I love having some cooked squash in the freezer to use during the winter to make soup, baked goods, or just to warm up with a pat of butter and serve as a vegetable side dish.

If you enjoy this squash variety and would like to have more, we will be offering this variety as a produce plus option for the next two weeks.  Check this week’s “What’s In the Box” email for details and get your order in for delivery within the next two weeks! 

One-Pot Kabocha Squash & Chickpea Curry

Yield 4-6 servings

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
½-1 jalapeño, finely chopped (quantity to your liking)
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
3 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, diced
2 cups diced sweet peppers
3 cups peeled, diced kabocha squash
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cans (13.5 fl oz each) coconut milk
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
½ cup water
3 cups thinly sliced Swiss chard or spinach
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 oz fresh basil, thinly sliced (optional)
Cooked brown rice, to serve

  1. Heat a Dutch oven or other deep saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2 tbsp of the oil to the pan.  When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic, ginger and jalapeño.  Saute over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add one more tablespoon of oil along with the turmeric and cumin.  Stir to combine and saute for another minute.  Add the diced tomatoes, peppers, squash, chickpeas, coconut milk, tamari and water to the pan.  Stir well to combine and then bring the mixture to a boil.
  2.  Once the mixture has been brought to a boil, reduce the heat just slightly so as to maintain a rapid simmer.  Cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove the cover and simmer an additional 15-20 minutes or until the squash is tender and the liquid portion of the curry has reduced a little bit. 
  3. Stir in the chard or spinach leaves and simmer an additional 5-8 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  4. Taste the curry and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve over rice and garnish with fresh basil and/or cilantro.
(Note:  This curry is even better the second day, making this a great recipe to use for batch cooking at the beginning of the week for meals throughout the week!)

This recipe was adapted from a similar recipe for One-Pot Eggplant, Pumpkin and Chickpea Curry featured at

Roasted Winter Squash with Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary

Yield:  6 Servings
2 pounds kabocha or butternut winter squash
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 plump clove garlic, finely chopped
1 heaping tsp chopped fresh sage
1 heaping tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds.  Scoop out the seed cavity and slice the squash into crescent moon slices.  Peel the squash and cut into 1-inch chunks;  you should have about 4 cups. 
  3. Toss the squash in enough olive oil to moisten it, then season with ½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Loosely arrange the squash in a single layer in a large baking dish or on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. 
  4. Roast the squash until the pieces are tender and browned here and there, about 35 minutes.  Every 10 minutes or so, give them a turn so that they color evenly.
  5. When the squash is tender and golden, warm 4 tsp oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and cook just long enough to remove the raw taste of the garlic, a minute should do.  Turn off the heat, and add the parsley.  Next, toss this mixture with the cooked squash.  Transfer to a serving dish, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Recipe adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy.

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