December 6 weekly menu | fall table

Farm Fresh

carrots, chicory, onions, parsnips, potatoes, winter squash

What’s for Dinner?

I’ve got a bit of a squash issue. Doesn’t seem to matter that I cooked it like it was going out of style over Thanksgiving. Or that (maybe unusually?) everyone in my family loves and devours squash. Or that I even occasionally slyly slip one to a friend (or stranger) that looks like they might enjoy a fine squash. I’ve still got an envy-of-the-town squash centerpiece. Which is being replaced, now, with pomegranates or paper whites. So, I’m throwing squash-fest 2013 this week. A fine way to celebrate the end of another lovely CSA season with Sauvie Island Organics, who has for piled my table high with amazing farm-fresh veggies since spring. Come next Friday, I’ll be listening for the Hood River Organic “veggie van,” eager to greet my bountiful box when the doorbell rings!

Friday – TV trays, christmas movie, & pizza

winter squash pizza (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Vegetables)

Saturday – mac ‘n cheese with a twist

autumn salad with chicory (The Cook’s Atalier)
cheesy squash pasta bake (Better Homes and Gardens)

Sunday  – deck the halls

slow cooker squash & chickpea stew (Food Network)
country bread

Monday – south of the border squash

winter squash quesadillas (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)

Tuesday – potluck pizzaz

caesar salad with winter squash (The Seattle Times)
winter squash crostini (Mark Bittman, NYT)
potato skins (Simply Recipes)

Wednesday –  simple, savory, satisfying

squash-parsnip soup (Cooking Light)
baguette

Thursday –  sammie night

squash, manchego, & balsamic onion grilled cheese (Food Network)
carrot sticks & dip


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Friday –  TV trays, christmas movie, & pizza

winter squash pizza (Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Vegetables)

IMG_1084

Yes, a squash-fest and a post-turkey-day, back-to-the-routine pizza night do go hand-in-hand! Follow this previous Pizza Night post for a no-fail dough recipe I rely on each week. It makes enough for two pizzas, even three if rolled out in the super thin, best-for-crispy-pizza style. If you’re short on time & energy, pick up a couple of pre-made doughs from your local pizza joint or grocery store.Tonight’s pizza is a great one for the ultra chilly weather we’re having with its stick-to-your-ribs, rich combo of sweet roasted squash, and lots of melty cheese. Use any winter squash you like. I find it easier to pre-roast winter squash in a hot oven, cut side down, not until it’s soft, but just until it’s easier to slice and peel. Then roast the peeled slices with olive oil, salt & pepper. The pizza’s a snap to put together, with just some EVOO & garlic, a cheese combo, and the squash slices. If the fried sage leaves seem fussy, skip them, but know that squash & sage is quite a taste sensation! Adding crispy bacon or pancetta would be a natural too. What could be better…fire roaring, a farm fresh homemade pizza, and the 18th viewing of Home Alone or The Elf?!?

Other pizza combinations:

winter squash and wild mushroom 
leek, crimini mushroom, and prosciutto
portabella mushroom & roasted red pepper
shitake mushroom
leek, sundried tomato, and goat cheese
caramelized leek, mushroom and Italian sausage pizza
pizza with kale raab, leeks, and olives 
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and rosemary
dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza
spinach and chive pizza
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
shaved asparagus & parmesan pizza
leek, chard, & corn flatbread
pizza with green garlic & arugula
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza
sweet onion pizza
pizza with grilled fennel and parmesan
eggplant & tomato pizza
caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread
classic margherita pizza
caramelized fennel, onion, and sweet pepper pizza 
pizza with red and yellow peppers
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
ricotta and gremolata pizza
parsley pesto & potato pizza 
roasted red potato pizza with taleggio, roasted leeks & pancetta
roasted acorn squash & gorgonzola pizza 

Saturday – mac ‘n cheese with a twist

autumn salad with chicory (The Cook’s Atalier)
cheesy squash pasta bake (Better Homes and Gardens)

I can think of few things that beat homemade mac ‘n cheese as pure comfort food. This recipe, with treats like squash, mushrooms, and even bacon if you want, ups the ante. And it does so without the usual corresponding increase in guilt! See above tips for pre-roasting the squash for peeling ease. I’ll use whatever squash rolls off the pile first – each will add its own unique flavor to this scrumptious sounding sauce. The autumn salad is similar to my Thanksgiving tried-and-true version. But we’re going with the head of chicory I got this week – I’ll use that as the sole green. You couldn’t go wrong using some sort of candied nuts and maybe a bit of sugar or maple syrup to the dressing to balance out the bitter, spicy undertones of the chicory. Make it your own with your favorite crumbled blue cheese and thinly sliced northwest apples.

Sunday – deck the halls

slow cooker squash & chickpea stew (Food Network)
country bread

Tree Day. It’s not really all it’s cracked up to be. Oh, the ending is perfectly lovely. It’s that darned beginning (the procurement), and never-ending middle (the decorating). We don’t head off to a sunny, lightly snowed-upon forest, but rather to the closest tree lot (man’s back yard) where I can get the prickliest of prickly Turkish firs -the only tree I’ve found to be Charlie-Brownish enough to fit in my ultra-tight space designated for it. And the decorating…no matter how many Christmas carols you play or how much hot chocolate you whip up, there’s sure to be hassles. The endless stream of bins from the basement, broken ornaments, and non-functioning lights. Add new kittens to the mix, and this year is sure to be a doozie! One thing I won’t have to worry about, though, is dinner. I’ll toss the ingredients for this squash stew in the slow cooker in the morning. Instead of chard, I’ll use my chicory, which goes in the pot just briefly at the end. Guaranteed, after a festive, frenzied, and fraught with chaos deck the halls day, we’ll all be ready for this hearty, no-fuss dinner.

Monday –  south of the border squash

winter squash quesadillas (Deb Perlman, Smitten Kitchen)

Mexican is a favorite in our house, and I twist and turn almost any recipe to fit my veggies at hand. Any winter squash could be used here – during a non-crazy, non-dinner-time hour, cut, seed and roast the squash slices so they’re ready to roll. Although I’m sure homemade roasted poblano chiles are the bomb, I’ll skip that time consuming ingredient, either all-together, or just add jarred roasted peppers. Add a can of black beans to the mix to get the full-meal-deal. I’ll have purchased tomatillo salsa, plus another couple of favorites, for a fun salsa-sampling, squash-infused kind of dinner.

Tuesday – potluck pizzaz

caesar salad with winter squash (The Seattle Times)
winter squash crostini (Mark Bittman, NYT)
potato skins (Simply Recipes)

Tonight is dedicated to the holiday pot luck. I try to include my veggies whenever I can, and people are usually quite appreciative. Salad is often the forgotten menu item, often losing out to must-haves like hot crab dip and peppermint bark. We love this winter spin on the classic caesar – any winter squash will do! Just par-bake, then peel and cut. Purchase your favorite croutons – so many people do them well now, I don’t bother. And I do anchovy paste instead of fillets, and halve the amount – seems to be a bit mellower and more family friendly. One teaspoon paste is equal to one fillet. And this take on crostini is sure to get some action – something a bit different than the expected crostini with purchased spinach dip. This one is spread lightly with your favorite fresh cheese, and them caramelized onions & squash are the toppers. My toasty bread will be the type cooked and bagged by New Seasons. As for the potato skins…there’s nothing healthy at all about these gems. But they are farm fresh, and it is the holidays! Topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream…they’ll taste nothing like the boxed Trader Joe’s version! I’ll reserve the inside of the potatoes to mash up with some butter and milk, leaving those and a made-by-someone else roast chicken for the troops at home.

Wednesday – simple, savory, satisfying

squash-parsnip soup (Cooking Light)
baguette

Another weeknight wonder, putting the slow cooker to work on more squash. Again, see peeling tips above for the squash. Pre-roast a bit, cut when easier to handle, in a nutshell. Especially if you’re using butternut – they’re a bugger. The recipe uses our squash, parsnip, and onions, plus an apple. When it’s all slow cooked, I’ll just immersion blend it right in the cooker. Add a baguette & butter, dinner is served!

Thursday – sammie night

squash, manchego, & balsamic onion grilled cheese (Food Network)
carrot sticks & dip

I know I’ll cheat on this, and use pre-roasted, peeled, sliced squash (see above). But it’s hard to resist that spicy, sweet oven-roasting, so I may just pop it in the oven for a few minutes, giving it a nice coating of the maple syrupy, chili peppery concoction. I’ll definitely caramelize one of my onions with a bit of balsamic to get an amazing spread. People can opt in or out of the almonds, as their taste buds desire. My trusty ridged cast iron (with another cast iron topping the sandwiches) whips up two paninis at a time. And although I mentioned that I had a “squash situation”, it’s a given that with a CSA, I’ve got a perpetual carrot situation as well. Carrot sticks and a favorite store-bought dip are the side tonight.

“What the Kale?!?”

Don’t panic and get out the compost bin if all of the sudden you have a giant veggie delivery coming your way, and you still have a fridge full.  Here are a few suggestions for preserving the bounty!  (Soups and stews freeze wonderfully in those gallon zip lock freezer bags.)

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One response to “December 6 weekly menu | fall table”

  1. Renate says :

    My but we’re sophisticated…no memories of TG….I guess that’s how one moves on…. I learn so much from UFT. R

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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