Tag Archives: squash

Butternut Squash & Crispy Sage Savory Tart

butternut tart

butternut tart slice

A Sunday night followed by a Monday off holds such promise for a prolonged evening meal with several courses and a luxe bottle of $15 wine.

Even when you’re dining alone.

Moving to NYC solo (or, frankly, under any circumstances), you may have heard, is not for the faint of heart, the codependent, the wary-of-public-transportation. Despite the endless number of people I encounter everyday, I have never experienced a living situation as profoundly lonely as life here. I’ve always considered myself an independent person, but existing here means I also have to be an entertaining one — to myself.

Many of you have heard the trials of city singledom, whether from me or from Girls or from Sex and the City or from the countless movies that portray Strong Female Leads Living in Metropolitan Areas (with absurdly, unrealistically large apartments) who are secretly desperately lonely. (Presumably because they have invested too much in their careers and not enough in their romances? Can we possibly try for new plotlines in 2013, please? There is not a small number of us who seek more than one objective in life and balance them all just fine.)

But if you haven’t heard about dating in NYC, I’m not going to regale you with the specific foibles and follies. It’s been covered, I think, and also my parents read this blog. I will say, however, that it is incredibly taxing despite what seems like overwhelmingly good odds. I mean, there are 8 million people in this city, and based on my very precise Algorithm of Eligible Bachelors Dwelling in the Five Boroughs, there must be a solid 10,000 who meet basic criteria.

As it turns out, though, basic criteria is not enough. Because as you can imagine, 10,000 men is a challenge to weed through. And every one I meet, I think “Oh yes, this is one is acceptable. But I bet I could find one who also understands my deep and sustained love for the emo music I listened to in high school.” (See: The Paradox of Choice.) (Also, that’s just an example. I definitely don’t listen to emo anymore! Seriously! I don’t!) I, too, am a victim of too much choice, the possibility of someone somehow better existing too tantalizing to pass up, as I found out recently after being rejected by an unemployed man who’s “too busy” for a second date.

So, more often than not, I find myself “stuck” with, well, myself.

Living in NYC solo means needing to enjoy dating the only person I can rely on 100% of the time. It means I take myself out to dinner, buy myself a nice new outfit, make myself an extravagant meal that, under circumstances involving another person, would be considered a downright romantic one.

I cannot recommend that kind of meal enough. Dining alone, living alone, travelling alone, is the kind of soul-satisfying, sometimes saddening/maddening, always reflective activity that reminds me that I am enough. That I will never be a lot of things, but I will always be enough things. At the very least, I crack myself up, especially toward the end of the night/glass. I can’t always say that about my dates.

Last night, I made myself this tart. It’d be great with a side salad, but when you’re dating yourself, you hardly need to impress anyone with the number of vegetables you’ve consumed in a given day. In fact, the best way to show your appreciation for you is to cut yourself another slice.

Tart Dough:
Makes 2 12-inch tarts
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup ice-cold water

1) Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or with a stand mixer. Pour in the water slowly, until the dough begins to clump. (Mix for 30 seconds or less if using a mixer.)
2) Divide the dough in two and create two balls of dough. Wrap with plastic and compress into disks. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Tart Filling:
Note: This recipe makes enough to fill one tart. Double the recipe if you want two!
olive oil
1/2 butternut squash, peeled & sliced thinly width-wise
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup of ricotta
parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon of water
about 15 leaves of sage
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons of canola oil

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay butternut squash slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt on both sides of the slices. Roast squash for about 20 minutes, or until tender.
2) Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Combine the spinach, ricotta, and some salt and pepper in a bowl.
3) Once the squash is removed from the oven, lower the oven heat to 375 degrees. Remove one of the tart dough sections from the fridge and roll into a circle with a rolling pin until the dough is about 12 inches in diameter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
4) Spread ricotta cheese/spinach mixture over the chilled tart, leaving a border of 1 and 1/2 inches. Place butternut squash slices in one layer over top of the mixture, again leaving a border. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
5) Fold the border over the squash layers to make a crust. Mix the egg and water together and brush gently over the crust. Place the tart on the lower rack in the oven and cook for 45 to 55 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
6) Heat canola oil in a pan over medium heat. Place in a few leaves of sage at a time, fry for about 5 seconds each, then place on a paper-towel lined plate. Sprinkle over the tart.

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Confetti Vegetable Sauce

I’ve been keeping something from you.

More than a year ago, I was hanging out in Italy. Mostly just eating, but sometimes cooking. Obviously, my life tends to revolve around food as it is, but my fixation was only exacerbated by being in a place where food serves as a language of its own.

The point is, I learned how to make this really amazing, really simple sauce, and then I proceeded to not share the recipe with you for more than a year. My host in Pisa taught me how to make this sauce. That’s right; you’re looking at a real Italian recipe from a real Italian person.

Once you make it, I imagine you’ll forgive me. Basically everything in here is easily substituted, too. Try it with eggplant. Try it with sour cream. Try it without any dairy at all. Then, let me know how it turned out!

Confetti Vegetable Sauce:
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 zucchini, grated
1 squash, grated
1 red pepper, grated
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
salt & pepper, to taste
your favorite pasta, cooked and drained

1) Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add zucchini, squash and red pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until most of the water has been cooked off. Drain the vegetables.
2) Place the pan back on the stove and lower the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon of butter. Stir in the garlic. Cook until light brown.
3) Stir in the well-drained vegetables until the mixture is very warm. Turn the heat to low and combine the mascarpone cheese. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper.
4) Spoon sauce onto your favorite pasta and top with fresh basil.

Couscous with Curried Baked Lamb



I am turkied-out. Following my last post, my family ate turkey in so many different combinations that I began to think I’d be perpetually tripping out on tryptophan. We had traditional Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, ABC sandwiches with turkey (I also added cranberry sauce and substituted the apples for apple pie filling), turkey & cranberry sauce quesadillas and vegetable soup with turkey broth.

When I left my family’s house today, I vowed not to consume another meal involving turkey until all the tryptophan left my system and rendered me alert once again.

This recipe fit the bill. In fact, this recipe didn’t involve any foods I consumed on Thanksgiving, but still contained a few seasonal ingredients. (Yay local squash!)  Plus, it allowed me to use up more veggies that I had in my apartment fridge–feel free to substitute or remove any of the vegetables. Or opt for the vegetarian version, sans the lamb. The crucial feature of this meal is the spices, really.

I combined two different recipes to create this one. I liked the idea of baking the lamb, and I love curried anything. So here’s the best of both worlds.

Couscous with Curried Baked Lamb:
1/2 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 eggplant, diced
olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup golden raisins
a few tablespoons of vinegar
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup couscous
1 & 1/2 cups boiling water

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the diced squash and eggplant with olive oil and roast on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes while preparing other ingredients.
2) In a bowl, combine raisins and vinegar. Set aside.
3) Cook lamb over medium heat with a sprinkle of olive oil until browned throughly. Spoon out lamb onto a paper towel-covered plate, saving the liquid fat from the lamb.
4) Add onion and bell pepper to pan, cook for five minutes. Add garlic. Let brown. Reduce heat, add spices, tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook until thickened. Remove squash and eggplant from oven.
5) Stir in spinach to pan and let wilt slightly, then combine lamb, drained raisins, roasted squash and eggplant. Cook for another two minutes.
6) Place the lamb mixture in a cake pan. Sprinkle with feta cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
7) In the last ten minutes of cooking time, pour couscous into a medium-sized saucepan (with lid). Pour in boiling water, stir with a fork. Cover with the lid and stir again in five minutes. Water should be absorbed.
8 ) Place 1/2 cup cooked couscous into a bowl, top with baked lamb.

Zucchini, Squash and Tomato Gratin

One woman’s trash is another’s treasure. Or, in this case, my mom’s surplus of squash is my opportunity to get a lil’ crazy in the kitchen. I need to know more people with CSA memberships. They have so much to give. Like vegetables. Especially as the summer comes to a close, I’m trying to find ways to throw those last lovely summer squashes into everything I consume.

So, I made a gratin. The word rolls off the tongue almost as deliciously as the meal tastes on the tongue. Sure, roasted vegetables are great, but when you add cheese and bread crumbs, there’s really no need to eat anything else. Unless you’re a lush like I am and put the gratin on top of pasta with walnut pesto.

The recipe came from Healthy Delicious. I’m kind of in love with that blog–yummy recipes. (And I won a Dutch oven from a contest held there. I admit my bias.)

Zucchini, Squash and Tomato Gratin:
olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB fresh thyme
1 zucchini, sliced
1 summer squash, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 TB Italian herbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1) Heat olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very soft — about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme. Spread the onions in the bottom of a baking dish.
2) Layer the squash, zucchini and tomato in the dish. Alternate layers of vegetables with some cheese and herbs.
3) Top with the rest of the herbs de Provence and the cheese. Sprinkle a thin layer of panko bread crumbs over the top and drizzle with more olive oil.
4) Bake at 375 for 60 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

What recipes are you making to commemorate the end of the summer?