I have been on a fevered hunt lately to get things organized in my life and to try and streamline anything and everything I can. So far, I’d say I’m at about a 50% success rate (and at this point I’ll take any successes I can get). I’m attempting to find a bit more free time in my ridiculous schedule and in doing so, I’m even working on easing things up in the kitchen. In fact, it is that very thing that inspired this post. One vegetable (kabocha squash), one basic preparation and two different meals. How’s that for efficiency?
Of course I didn’t take any pictures of the kabocha squash before starting the cooking process, but it’s a pretty dark green (squat round shaped) squash with some light green striping on it. While you may not be too familiar with it, you can find it in pretty easily in most grocery stores and definitely at farmer’s markets. It’s a popular winter squash in Asian cuisine, so if you have an Asian market nearby you’ll certainly find it there.
The kabocha squash has kind of a sweet aroma to it, but don’t let that sway you into believing this is an overly sweet vegetable. Roasting it (and you know how much I love roasted vegetables) coaxes out more of the nutty flavors in the squash. This combination of sweet and nutty is one of the things that makes kabocha the perfect ingredient for winter squash recipes.
The first recipe I made was a kabocha squash pasta sauce. I realize that may sound a bit odd, but when you consider it’s just a pureed vegetable poured over pasta is it really all that different than your usual tomato sauce? Or how about that ultra rich and creamy cheese sauce you pour over that pasta from time to time? Think of this pasta sauce as an ‘in betweener.’ It’s rich and creamy (but a hell of a lot more healthy than a 4 cheese sauce) yet it’s still no heavier than a good ol’ fashioned tomato sauce.
The pasta sauce recipe is what is used for the base of both recipes. Using two pounds of squash, I was able to make 4 cups of the pasta sauce. Now for winter squash recipe number 2.
I took half of the kabocha pasta sauce and put it into a medium size saucepan and added vegetable stock until I reached the desired consistency for my soup.
While Craig dove face first into the pasta, I slurped away on my bowl of soup. Even though they start with the same base of ingredients they do have slightly different flavors. So when you’ve had enough pasta meals, you can take that leftover pasta sauce and turn it into an entirely different meal.
Now…if you happen to be reading this after your big holiday meal and have some kind of a leftover mashed winter squash recipe that you just don’t know what to do with, you could even use that for the base of this recipe. Et voilà! Leftover syndrome cured (for at least one instance…but you’re on your own for Aunt Martha’s mincemeat pie leftovers, I’ve got nothing for that one).
Since I’ve been getting lots of mail requesting tips for surviving the holidays with your relatives, I thought I would take this opportunity to give you some tips and tidbits of doing just that. Of course, these may be a bit different from advice you’ve seen elsewhere, but hey…they’re fun and you don’t come here to see the same old crap you can find out there in the blogosphere now do you?
- Can’t take another family dinner where you get the 3rd degree why you haven’t brought ‘someone special’ for dinner? Go down to your nearest Occupy __________ encampment and ask one of them if they’d like to get a nice hot meal with you. Wait for dinner hijinks and fabulous conversation to ensue.
- The thought of playing another game of touch football with your family got you in a hot sweat? – Put on every bit of padded clothing you can find (including winter coats and moon boots – if you can find them). Waddle on to the playing field like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man and you’ll be sidelined in a minute (or just never chosen for a team).
- Your family has horrible taste in wine (read that as ‘no taste in wine’) and you just can’t stomach another putrid drop of the bottom shelf of Big Lots bargain bin? Bring your own bottle(s) and tuck them away in a couple of hidden areas (preferably near a bathroom, but not in the bathroom) and regularly excuse yourself to go to said bathroom. Hide out for a bit and savor the deliciousness. No one will question you because they’ll be too afraid to hear what you were doing in the bathroom all that time.
- Hate one of your in-laws and are looking for a way to silently(yet not subtly) stick it to them? Whichever dish is “their” dish to bring to dinner (it’s the same every year because he/she makes THE BEST _______) you make your far more superior version of it. When it goes on the table and everyone remarks that so and so always brings that dish, you feign your ignorance and thought that’s what your husband told you that your had been assigned to bring. You’ll feel the love all over that room.
- Just can’t bring yourself to go to another family holiday meal period? Don’t go. When they call to see where you are (or why you weren’t there) just claim that your bootleg software on your computer has that holiday the next week (this works much better for Thanksgiving than for Christmas…fyi). No lie, this (accidentally) happened to Craig a few years ago and he had flown home a week early for the Turkey Day. No, no one has ever let him live that down.
Recipe: Kabocha Squash Pasta Sauce and Soup
- 3 1/2 Cups Pureed Kabocha Squash (from 2 pounds roasted squash – see notes)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Stalks Celery (diced)
- 1 Large Yellow Onion (diced)
- 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 3 Roasted Piquillo Peppers (sliced thin)
- 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 2 Teaspoons Harissa
- 4 Cups Vegetable Broth (plus additional for soup)
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Parmesan Cheese (optional garnish)
- Freshly Chopped Sage (optional garnish)
- Add all ingredients, except for the broth, to a large saucepan.
- Over medium high heat, stir to combine ingredients.
- Gradually stir in the vegetable stock to thin the sauce down.
- Once everything is combined, pour sauce into food processor and puree until smooth.
- Ladle sauce over pasta.
- Remove 2 cups of the pureed sauce and return it to the saucepan you used earlier.
- Add more vegetable stock until you get the soup consistency you look.
- Ladle soup into bowls and top with chopped cranberries and sage or any other topping you wish.
To roast the kabocha squash – I cut it into quarters, scooped out the seeds then lightly coated the yellow fleshy part with olive oil. I roasted it at 400 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes (roast until soft when pierced with fork).
To make the puree, I then scooped out the roasted squash, put it in my food processor and pureed it until smooth. Because the squash is so thick, you’ll need to stop and scrape down the bowl frequently. You could add a tablespoon, or 2, of water to help the processing be a bit easier.
You can top the pasta sauce or soup with just about anything you desire.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Low calorie, Reduced fat, Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 8
Culinary tradition: USA (General)