Entrée, Soup, Winter, Fall, Gluten Free
I'm currently on my third double chocolate cookie despite having all sorts of recipe testing leftovers in the fridge I could cobble into a more nutritious lunch. Can cookies be lunch? I could swipe almond butter on top for protein. Why didn't I give these away like I said I would? 'Tis the season I suppose; always makes me feel like baking, it's getting the baked goods out the door that appears to be the challenge. So in between, there are easy dinners. I have been asked three times for a butternut squash soup recipe by different friends or readers and I realize we only have this stew to reference. I generally prefer my soups chunky, but let's add a pureed one to the archives for good measure. I saw this one while flipping through Melissa Clarks' recent book and it sounded too perfectly simple and spiced not to try. Plus, I had all the ingredients. I swapped in a little curry powder for some of the cumin, added ginger at the end and garnished it with a bit of cilantro and toasted coconut. Optional changes, of course. Cheers to easy dinners, and cookies too, of course.
BUTTERNUT + RED LENTIL SOUP // Serves 4-6
Adapted from Dinner by Melissa Clark
I find soup thickness to be a matter of taste. You can always add more broth at the end to thin it, but it's tough to go the other way. Start with the yields below, and you can thin it out after if need be.
3 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. curry powder
pinch of cayenne
3/4 tsp. sea salt
fresh black pepper
1 cup red lentils
12 ounces peeled and chopped butternut squash (about one medium squash)
1 qt. low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
fresh ginger, to taste
fresh lime juice, to taste
cilantro and toasted coconut, for garnish
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the ghee or coconut oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Cook another minute. Add the lentils, squash, broth and bring it up to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes until the squash is tender. Stir in the coconut milk to warm through and add grated ginger and fresh lime juice to taste (I used about a 2" nub of ginger and 1 whole lime). Use a blender or immersion blender to make a chunky puree. Season to taste. It probably needs a bit more salt but that is to your discretion.
Garnish to fresh cilantro and toasted coconut. Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for a week.
Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free
We've talked potatoes and pumpkin pie to death so let's move on to solving dinner problems for all other days of the year. I would take one of these lasagna squashes over a majorly brown thanksgiving plate any day. Sorry, bah humbug. Last year, I had dinner with some of my dearest college girlfriends at Malibu Farms (have you seen their cookbook? It's beautiful and casual and colorful) and I still think of this spaghetti squash dish we shared. It was creamy, but not overly so, could be ordered vegetarian or not, tasted like comfort food but didn't sit in your gut as such. I know in the season of cooking and romantically long prep time with your glass of wine and holiday tunes, this recipe may come off as old news, but a simple dinner is what I am more interested in in the long term. I made four, and my kids mostly poked at it. They saves well and can handle a reheat the following day or perhaps you have another couple over to share. I made a few notes in the headnote on meal suggestions.
Grateful for this space - that my life and cooking may grow and change and these pages reflect the process of such. Happy belated Thanksgiving to you, lovelies.
LASAGNA STYLE SPAGHETTI SQUASH // Serves 4
I served this with a simple arugula salad on the side. If you have animal-protein-hungry people in your life, brown some ground turkey or beef and add it to the marinara layer. The squash can be roasted in advance to get ahead and everything else comes together pretty quickly.
No dairy? Kite Hill makes a fabulous almond based ricotta if you can find it (try Whole Foods) and maybe you can top it with some toasted breadcrumbs or pine nuts to give it the richness it will lack from the other cheeses. Trader Joes also started carrying a premade, vegan cashew pesto in the fridge section that I imagine would be lovely mixed in with the shredded squash layer. I trust you can make adjustments where needed.
2 small spaghetti squash
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
8-10 oz baby spinach or kale
8 oz./ 1 cup ricotta
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs (or dried oregano or fennel seeds if that's what you have)
4 oz. / 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
1/3 cup parmesan, divided
juice of half a lemon
2 cups homemade or your favorite store-bought marinara
fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400'. Halve your squash and scoop out the seeds. Rub all sides with a thin coat of oil and roast the squash, cut side down, for about 45 minutes, or until the squash shreds easily. Let them cool for 15 minutes and then carefully shred all the strands into a bowl, keeping the squash shell intact. Reserve squash shells. Squeeze them with a dishtowel to remove some of the moisture if the squash looks soggy.
Warm a generous tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt and saute for a few minutes until fragrant and softened. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the baby spinach and saute until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach to the bowl of squash, along with the ricotta, dried herbs, mozzarella, half of the parmesan and the juice of half a lemon. Stir everything to mix. Taste for salt and pepper, it will likely need both. Line the bottoms of the squash shells with marinara and sort of push it up the sides. Add the cooked ground meat here, if using. Be generous on the sauce, it needs the acid to balance the creaminess. Distribute the squash mixture on top. Sprinkle the tops with a little extra mozzarella and parmesan. Line a baking tray with parchment and bake the squash for 20 minutes to warm through. Broil them for a couple minutes at the end to finish and brown the tops.
Garnish the tops with fresh parsley and serve warm.