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squash and parsnip soup

squash and parsnip soupSoup has been around for centuries and previous generations did not use a recipe. They simply dumped various ingredients into a pot to boil.  And each culture adopted its own variation with whatever was on hand.  For my readers who feel more comfortable using a list of ingredients, throw caution to the wind and be like our ancestors.  If you have vegetables looking as though they’re in need of rescuing, a soup is a perfect place for them and you’ll feel better knowing you used them instead of throwing them in the bin.  Continue Reading →

stuffed zucchini blossoms

stuffed zucchini flowers Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms…sounds so heavenly.  Summer squash which includes zucchini, is now available in local markets and food shops – they are for me, one of the highlights of the season.  They’re delicate, come in different varieties, tender, juicy, and sweet.  But before the summer squash is formed, the plant produces blossoms. If you’re lucky to find zucchini blossoms, grab them!  They’re a delight to eat.  The flower, though delicate, is wonderful stuffed with ricotta or goat cheese, dipped in a tempura-like batter, and deep-fried. Continue Reading →

Squash Parmigiana

Squash Parmigiana

Parmigiana is an Italian dish made with a fried slice filling, layered with cheese and tomato sauce and baked in the oven.  The most common is eggplant (aubergine) but breaded veal or chicken are also popular.  Continue Reading →

Roasted Butternut Squash and Couscous

roasted butternut squash and couscousIt’s been wet and foggy the past two days and as such has put me in the mood for vegetables I would usually cook in the cooler months.  That said, there’s absolutely no reason why squash shouldn’t be included in a summer dish.  When I think of the winter squash family, butternut always comes out on top.  It’s sweet to begin with but when roasted nothing beats the caramelized flavor of browned edges.   Butternut squash doesn’t really need doctoring but experimenting with different seasonings such as cumin, allspice, anchovies, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, truffle oil, rosemary, sage, lemon juice, and so on will only heighten your senses making butternut squash a superstar veggie! Continue Reading →

Roasted Squash & Apple Soup with Goat’s Cheese & Bacon

roasted squash & apple soup by The Culinary ChaseSoup. It needs no explanation – everyone knows what it is and it’s been around for a millennia.  There are so many variations.  I love the combination of vegetables and fruit.  There’s something so opposite about the two that you’d think there’s no way they belong together in the same pot…but trust me, the two are a marriage made in heaven.  Throw in some cheese and bacon and you’ll be singing hallelujah! The idea of roasting squash with apples may sound a bit odd but fondly enough they end up being best mates.  Granny Smith apples are tart but when roasted the apples become sweeter as does the squash.  Top this with the distinctive flavor from goat’s cheese and smoky accents from the bacon, it’s a soup that will have you coming back for more.

Serves 4
adapted from What Katie Ate

1kg squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into small chunks
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons sage powder
olive oil
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into small chunks
8 strips bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5 cups chicken stock
120g goat’s cheese
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350f and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Place the squash, cumin, sage and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl and season, then toss to combine. Place onto the tray, arrange in a single layer and roast 15 minutes. Add apple and cook for a further 10 minutes or until tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat add bacon and cook. Set aside to drain on paper towel.
4. Clean out the same pan and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and cook until softened.
5. Transfer the squash mixture to a large saucepan along with 2 cups of stock and half the cheese. Use an immersion hand blender and whiz until smooth. Add remaining stock to pan and heat until hot.
6. To serve, top soup with bacon and remaining goat’s cheese.  Season to taste.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: I used 4 cups of broth as I like my soups hearty and thick.  Enjoy!

Barley Salad with Roasted Squash and Fennel

Barley Salad with Roasted Squash and Fennel by The Culinary ChaseIt can be a challenge keeping your kids healthy when they live at home but when they leave the nest for university or boarding schools this can be a bigger challenge. We’re happy to be back in Nova Scotia for many reasons and one of those is that Laura is able to hop on a bus and within a couple of hours she’s home.

Such was the case last weekend…she wanted to come home and get well so she could celebrate the much awaited X-Ring ceremony.  The X-Ring is a coveted ring from St. Francis Xavier University.  And it’s not just any school ring.  It was created in 1942 by Willie MacDougall but before that, each graduating class appointed a committee to design a pin for their class with its own motto.  The first ring ceremony took place in 1958.  The ceremony, which is a formal event, is held every year on the 3rd of December and is regarded by the StFX students as the highlight of their university life.  In order to qualify for the ring, students must have at least 103 credits.  The ring is noted for being the third most recognized in the world behind the Pope ring and the super bowl ring.  Laura, like most other students at St.FX, had a digital countdown to the ceremony at least a year in advance!  She was so excited to get her ring she didn’t know if she could sleep the night before… it was as if she was 5 again anxiously waiting for Santa Claus.

X-Ring ceremony

Serves 4
adapted from River Cottage VEG

small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed (view video)
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (more if you like)
handful parsley, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

barley by The Culinary Chase1. Preheat the oven to 375f.  Arrange squash in a large roasting pan. Add a splash of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss and place in the oven to roast. Meanwhile, cut the fennel lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges.

2. After 15 minutes, add the fennel and garlic to the roasting pan with the squash and another tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize around the edges.

3. While the veggies are roasting, cook the barley in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, but still with just a bit of nutty bite; around 25 minutes. Drain well and leave to cool a little (or completely for a cold salad). Toss with the roasted veg, and any oil from the roasting pan, lemon juice, cheese, parsley and any fennel fronds. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Shave over some more cheese and serve warm or cold.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: This salad tastes great hot, warm or cold! Serve it as a side or as a main meal. Enjoy!

The X-Ring is proudly being displayed!

The X-Ring is proudly being displayed!