Overstuffed Yellow Squash Boats and Sauteed Red Wine Kale

I went all veg last night. I don’t do this THAT often (though I know I should) because, without any starches, M and I often don’t get full without a protein. I combated no protein with a tiny bit of farro. And I think it was a success. I was satiated and enjoyed the meal. And the girls LOVED it.

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As I often do, I took what I had and interpretted another recipe to make it fit my fridge. Last night I made yellow squash boats stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese (topped with toasted pine nuts, balsamic glaze and a bit of sriracha). I also made kale sauteed with red wine and yellow onion.

Squash Boats

  • 1 large squash per person
  • package of frozen spinach
  • two cups of dried mushrooms, chopped finely
  • finely sliced shallot
  • red pepper flakes
  • thyme
  • salt/pepper
  • goat cheese (frozen)

Kale

  • 1 large bag of kale, washed, torn into 1 inch pieces and rid of tough stems
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • butter
  • 1 small lemon

I made the kale first as I wanted it to sit in its juices for as long as possible. After washing and trimming the kale to rid it of the stems, I tore any large leaves into small, bit size pieces. I put them into a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and let them drain while I chopped and cooked the yellow onion.

P actually helped with most of this portion of the meal. He loved “showering” and tearing the kale and stirring the onions cooked over medium heat. He has also started to have the dexterity to grind the salt and pepper over the food so I let him do that over the onions as they started to become translucent.

Once cooked, I piled in the kale and, over medium/high heat, wilted it until to became bright green. As there was so much kale in my saute pan, I had to turn the kale often and use a large pan lid to weigh down the leaves to keep them all in. As soon as the kale was bright green, I poured in the cup of red wine left over from a few nights previous and turned the heat to low and let all of that yumminess simmer. It was also at this time that I added 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into smaller pieces, and squirted it with the juice of a small lemon. This really added a depth to the flavor. Once this was all melded together, I poured the mixture and ALL of the juice into a large bowl to sit and absorb.

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I put some water into my electric kettle and let it boil while I dried out the pan with a paper towel. I chopped the dry mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces and rinsed them in my mesh colander  When the water was boiling, I put the mushrooms in the pan and poured the hot water over them, letting them absorb the moisture. Once they were well soaked, I put them back in the mesh colander and let them drain over the sink. This last part used no heat…just reduced the number of bowls I’d have to clean later 🙂

At this time I preheated the oven to 350. The spinach was next. I popped a box of frozen chopped spinach into the pan and, after pouring a bit of hot water from the kettle over it, let the spinach defrost, stirring often and breaking it apart slowly. Once heated, I poured the spinach and its juices over the mushrooms that were still in the sink in the mesh colander. Those sat and dripped while I prepared the squash.

ImageI trimmed the ends off of the squash and cut them in half. After removing with a spoon the seeded center and setting that portion aside, I sliced a thin portion off of the bottom so that they would sit flat.

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On the hulled squash boats I added salt and pepper, a sprinkling of dry thyme and a tiny bit of finely chopped red pepper flakes. The other flavors are so subtle on this dish that it definitely needed that zing…so don’t exclude the red pepper flakes. I then sprayed it with smart balance cooking spray…but this was mostly for convenience as it was right in front of me and my olive oil was across the room. Lazy, yo.

Back at the saute pan, I toasted a handful of pine nuts and set them aside. I put a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan, heated it up and tossed in the shallot and the squash innards, letting them cook over medium high heat. I pressed the remaining liquid out of the spinach and mushrooms and then added them to the mix. I had the goat cheese in the freezer to make even distribution into the filling easier. I crumbled about three tablespoons of goat cheese onto the filling and stirred it in. Add sriracha sauce to taste at this point. I don’t like my food too hot so I just did a tiny bit and then let the others heat their food up at the end as they wished.

On a silpat lined cookie sheet, I placed the empty boats and then overstuffed them with the filling.

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I squeezed a bit of balsamic glaze over the top and put them in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once during cooking to allow for even temperature in my horrible stove. Test for doneness with a sharp knife. When it goes into the skin of the squash easily, it is ready.

While the squash is cooking, I used 1/2 a cup of the Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmered that on the stove, after bringing it to a boil, for 10 minutes. Once cooked to chewiness, I added back in the kale  mixture to heat for serving.

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Serve the kale with a slotted spoon and portion two squash boats per person. Top the squash boats with toasted pine nuts, a bit more of the goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and/or sriracha and you have yourself a delicious and incredibly healthy meal.

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Sunshine Chicken Kebab with Squash Ribbon Salad

Last night I made one of Hubs’ favorite Persian inspired dishes. It is a take off of Mitra’s Sunshine Kitchen and similar to Joojeh Kebab. I had originally planned to pair it with a green salad. But today was one of those days I just wasn’t in the mood for lettuce…so I switched it out for squash which was handy. And as I’d been making a lot of sautéed veggie and grain side dishes lately, it was time to try something new. I remembered my mother making something similar to this years ago but wasn’t sure how to do it. As is my want…I figured I would make something up to suit my tastes and what was in the fridge. AND I had purchased a bunch of yellow squash and zucchini at the farmer’s market the other day and wanted to use it before it went soft. More on the ribbon salad later.

Sunshine Chicken Kebab:

  • 1 chicken breast per person (I used 4)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 table spoon of turmeric
  • 1 pinch of saffron…brewed (more on that below)
  • a dusting of sumac for each kebab
  • salt and pepper
  • if you don’t have traditional kebab skewers, you will need two soaked wood skewers per kebab

Ribbon Salad:

  • 3 yellow squash
  • 3 zucchini
  • your favorite herbs (I mixed fresh oregano, parsley, basil and thyme) chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen or canned roasted corn kernals (or off the cob…your choice)
  • feta to taste
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 pats of butter, separated
  • olive oil

 

First thing this morning I marinated the chicken. It is usually best to do it overnight but we were out last night so this morning was the closest I could get :).  I cut my chicken into one inch chunks (discarding fat and tendons when able), put all of the cut pieces in a bowl and added salt and pepper. Next was a heaping tablespoon of turmeric. I then brewed  the saffron (the short version: add a pinch of saffron into a mortor with some salt and grind it until it is a fine powder; steep the ground saffron in a small amount of hot water and stir until it dissolves…the proper way) and spooned it over the chicken. Followed by a cup of plain yogurt, stirred it all up and then covered in plastic and put it in the fridge.

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This is also a good time to put the kebab skewers in water. Let them sit in the water all day.

Using my mandolin, after I trimmed the ends, I sliced the squash and zucchini into a heaping bowl of ribbons. For four people I used three of each. I probably could have done one more of each. I put that bowl in the fridge as well as I wasn’t going to cook until later that night.

Fast forward to 6pm and I heated up a teaspoon of olive oil and a pat of butter in a sauté pan. Once sizzling, I added the lot of the ribbons. I gave it a good turn in the fat and then a bit of salt and pepper, letting it sit over low heat.

While this began to cook down, turning from time to time, I put the chunks of chicken on the skewers. I like to double up the skewers so that it is easier to turn on the grill.  It ended up being eight kebabs so assume two kebabs per chicken breast. Once the kebabs were put together I sprinkled them with sumac to add a bit of tang to this otherwise savory marinade. (Side note: this is a good time to get the grill ready)

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Meanwhile, back at the stove, when the squash begins to get soft, add in the frozen corn (I like the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s). Cook for a minute or two, turning often but gently as the squash is beginning to be soft enough to break,  and then add the feta.

In another pan, heat up a teaspoon of olive oil and add the cut onion and cook until soft. While the onion is cooking down, cut the red pepper into strips. Add the peppers to the onions and then chop the herbs and throw them in last. Turn off both pans and go cook the chicken.

Grill the chicken, turning after the first side is beginning to get a nice char. I’m a biiiig fan of an insta-read thermometer and highly recommend never cutting into any meat. Use the insta-read in the thickest piece of meat when both side are charred. It should read 160 as the meat will still cook for a second while it sits before eating.

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To finish the salad, add all of the ingredients together and a bit more feta. And voila! Ribbon salad.

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Everyone loved it. One of the girls said it tasted like pasta…a big compliment from her. This definitely goes on our “best of the best” list.

 

Basil Pork with Squash Rounds, Red Pepper and Farro

I was exhausted Monday. I needed and wanted to cook dinner for our little group but my brain wasn’t processing properly. I was having trouble sequencing my thoughts when I was at the grocery store doing our weekly shop so came home slightly unprepared for how and what I was cooking for dinner. This dinner was a little bit of what I could find in our kitchen and a request from the hubs for “that farro stir fry [I] made a few weeks ago.” Documenting the dinners my family enjoys is the main impetus for this blog…and requests like this, when I can barely remember what I had for lunch (Monday? a yogurt with honey, a spoonful of peanut butter, a handful of sprouted sunflower seeds and some carrots. Holy crap! I remembered).

In the fridge I found a pork tenderloin, almost at its sell by date, three yellow squash, a few red shallots and two red peppers. I also went into the garden and grabbed a handful of big leaf basil. 

  • pork tenderloin
  • handful of basil
  • 2 large shallots
  • 3 yellow squash
  • 2 red peppers
  • oyster sauce
  • 1 meyer lemon

The first step was to cook the 10 minute farro that we love. I use chicken stock instead of water. Boil the chicken stock, add the farro, stir occasionally.

While the farro is cooking, cut the tenderloin into 1 inch by 2 inch pieces. Salt, pepper and douse in oyster sauce, coating evenly. Slice shallot thinly. Heat olive oil in large saute pan over med-high heat until shimmering and then add the shallot. Cook quickly until slightly soft, push to the edges of the pan and add pork. 

While the pork is browning, cut squash into discs and zest the lemon (saving the lemon for later). Turn pork if starting to brown and cook through. In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add squash. Turn the squash in the olive oil to coat and then arrange them so that most are laying flat on the bottom of the pan. Lightly salt and pepper.

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While the squash softens and browns, chiffonade the basil and cut the peppers into thin strips. Turn the pork as it should be getting near finished, add the basil and lightly coat with oyster sauce again. Squeeze half of the lemon on the pork. Mix thoroughly. Turn the squash so that all pieces are evenly browned. Remembering that the pork will continue to cook in the pan and that pork should have a bit of pink in it, turn off the burner and move the pan off the heat. Add the red pepper to the squash. 

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(Be sure to take out the lemon seeds after squeezing…or, you know, avoid them all together 🙂 )

When the squash is soft and slightly browned, add reduced balsamic and coat. Turn off heat.

Serve by adding to a bowl a layer of farro, the squash/pepper mix and then top with the pork. It was DELISH.

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