Delicata squash

delicataI’m a big fan of this variety of winter squash I just saw for the first time.  Like all winter squash varieties, delicata is very mild, and it is slightly sweet.

I prepared it by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds (for the garden), and then cutting it into 1/4″ slices.  I baked it for 50 minutes in a covered dish with some excellent fresh tomato sauce, shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and about 1/4 cup of California wild rice.  I spiced it with my favorites: turmeric, black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  I also added some apple cider vinegar.  I really like this tangy addition to the dish!

It made 4 generous servings, and it was delicious and healthful.

Will do this again soon!  And, I’m counting on it growing in my garden, maybe even getting a few before our first freeze, usually in late October.

Give it a try, cooking it your way, or try mine!

Source: Delicata squash – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Butternut lentil soup

Fast-cook dry beans

Dry Lentil-Pea MixI keep a jar of fast-cook dry beans handy for impromptu meals.  “Fast-cook” dry beans, like lentils, mung, green split peas, black-eyed peas, are a great start to the day, nutritionally speaking, and they are perfect for the spur of the moment because they do not require a long period of soaking.  After rinsing them thoroughly, you can bring them to a rapid boil, and leave them boiling for about five minutes, then turn the heat to a medium setting and let them cook for about 20 minutes, and they’re ready to eat.

Typically, Saturdays and Sundays, especially at breakfast, lend themselves to breakaway opportunities, when I don’t have to rush out the door to fight the commuter traffic.  And, this is where the “fast-cook” dry beans really become a good thing to have around the kitchen.

This is a soup that is ready to put together at a moment’s notice that takes only 30 or 40 minutes to prepare and cook, enough time to do the other morning routines while you wait.  My dogs need at least that much time just to say hello in the mornings and get all their begging for attention done!

For this recipe, I used some butternut squash from my own garden I had frozen last year, along with a bean mix of lentils and split peas.  Often, I will combine “fast-cook” beans when I’m running low on certain varieties.

Mung bean sproutsButternut lentil soup

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of lentil-split pea dry bean mix
1 large clove fresh garlic, sliced thin
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and sliced
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup bean sprouts (mung is what I used) for topping

Instructions:

Place all ingredients, except the bean sprouts, in a pot.  Add enough water to cover the mix and to leave a soup when it’s done.  I usually add enough water to double the depth of the beans (one inch of beans in the pot, add two inches of water).  This will absorb and boil down, so you are left with a hearty soup.  Bring ingredients to a rapid boil for about five minutes, cover, and adjust the setting to medium-low.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Test the beans for softness, and adjust cooking times to your preference.  Add the bean sprouts, and you’re ready to chow down on a delicious soup for the day.

Makes 20 ounces, so you can share, if you want.

Butternut Lentil Soup