I had a craving for a roasted vegetable soup, and my parents picked up a variety of squashes from the local farmer’s market, so I grabbed the nearest butternut and I got started. I love any excuse to roast vegetables, so preheat your oven to 450°F and get some pans ready.
I sliced up a butternut squash and set it on a baking sheet. Actually, it took two baking sheets (butternut squashes have a lot on them). I also cut the tops off 4 heads garlic and chucked them on a sheet as well.
I had about 4 or 5 parsnips that I scrubbed and cut up as well to be roasted. They’ll add sweetness to the mix. This is gonna be a sweet soup.
Drizzle all yo’ roasty goodness with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast everything for about 45 minutes, or until they’re nice and crusty on the outside and you can jab a fork in them easily.
The parsnips should be squishy in their innards as well.
Told you there was a lot to a butternut squash.
You’re going to want to wait until the garlic has cooled before you pop the sticky cloves out with your fingers.
While that’s roasting or cooling or whatever, chop up about 2 large onions and plop them in a frying pan with some butter and some olive oil and cook them on medium low until they start to caramelize. This will make them lovely and sweet.
Peel the roasted squash (or use a big metal spoon to scoop it out of the skin, like I did) and plop it in a big mother of a pot, together with your caramelized onions, your roasted parsnips, and your roasted garlic.
Top the pot up with some stock. I ended up using 3 cartons (at 900mL each) of chicken stock.
Bring that to a simmer, stirring to break up the squash a bit. Season with salt and pepper while you’re waiting for it to bubble.
Once it starts to bubble, leave it for a few minutes, then remove it from the heat and have a go at it with the immersion blender. BRRRRRRRZZZZZZZZZHT! Season with a bit of nutmeg to taste.
Serve with more sprinkled nutmeg, a dash of plain yogurt or sour cream, some chives, or just plain Jane like this!
Here is yet another Martha Stewart soup and I think I like this the best of the three I’ve made recently. I made all three over one weekend, so I got a chance to taste them all at the same time. In this soup, the vegetables are roasted beforehand to bring out the flavour, and man oh man is it some flavour!
Preheat your oven to 425°F and position your oven racks so one is at the very top and one is at the very bottom.
On the bottom tray you’re going to have your eggplant and your chickpeas.
On the top tray will be your tomatoes, carrots, and garlic.
Peel about 12 cloves garlic and peel and chop up about 1/2lb carrots. This equaled 2 large carrots, for me.
Then you need to halve and core about 3lbs plum (Roma) tomatoes. The recipe says that this is about 12 tomatoes, but I ended up with 18 to make that weight. I found the tomato huller tool worked great for this. It took out the top stem bit, and then after I halved them it was great at scooping out the innards.
Toss the tomatoes with the garlic and tomatoes and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Garnish liberally with fresh ground pepper and pinches of sea salt. Spread them in a single layer (if you can) on a rimmed baking sheet with the cut sides of the tomatoes facing downwards.
Chop up 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2lb) into 3/4″ pieces. Of course our grocery store never has the same kind of eggplant two days in a row, so I got 4 baby eggplants instead.
Rinse and drain 1 can of chickpeas. Toss those in with the eggplant, together with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons curry powder.
Spread that out on a rimmed baking sheet as well.
Roast your vegetables, tomatoes on the top rack, eggplant on the bottom, for 45 minutes. Toss your vegetables halfway through.
Now your tomato skins will be all lovely and wrinkly.
You can just pick them off with a set of tongs. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Once your tomatoes are peeled, dump the contents of the tomato tray (carrots, garlic, skinless tomatoes and juices) into a large saucepan.
Purée the tomato mixture and then add 3-4 cups water.
Stir in the eggplant mixture and bring the whole thing to a simmer.
Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and crusty bread. You can also freeze this soup for later on down the road.
Today we are going to use tofu to replace ricotta cheese in a healthy and hearty lasagna. This recipe makes for 2 dishes of pasta, so you can freeze one and then thaw it for cooking at a later date.
Start with your roasting vegetables. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
Slice up 2 Italian eggplants (or one small regular one), 1 zucchini, and 2 red peppers.
Make the pieces relatively small so you don’t have to cut them up too much when you eat them.
Plop those in a roasting pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss thoroughly and roast for about 20-30 minutes, stirring about halfway through, until everything is tender and fragrant. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350°F if you are planning on cooking your lasagna right away.
Next, chop up about half a large yellow onion, and about a dozen mushrooms. Sauté those suckers in a large saucepan with a wee bit of olive oil until they are tender as well.
Add the roasted vegetables and stir them around.
Pour in 2 jars tomato-based pasta sauce and mix that around to warm everything up. I only used one jar of sauce in this recipe and didn’t have quite enough sauce to cover everything, so I definitely recommend two jars. Add in a bit of fresh basil, too, if you’ve got it.
Thaw 1 500g package of frozen spinach.
Add to that 2 packages soft tofu (or firm silken tofu) and squish it around.
I puréed about half of it in a blender for a creamier texture.
Season with salt and pepper. Shoulda used a bigger bowl …
Now, line the bottom of your oblong casserole dishes with noodles. I use the no-cook lasagna because it’s less of a pain in the butt, and with the size of my dishes, each casserole will take 9 noodles. Spread on a generous layer of the roasted vegetables in tomato sauce (I had to be sparing, because I only used the one jar of sauce).
Add another layer of noodles, then a heaping of the tofu/spinach mixture. Use half the stuff for each casserole.
More noodles. The rest of your tomato sauce. Try to cover all the noodles so they don’t dry out while baking. Obviously, that’s not what happened here. But what can you do? I learned from my mistakes.
For a little extra flavour, feel free to top the lasagna with a handful of crumbled feta cheese.
Bake at 350°F for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top of the lasagna is all nice and bubbly. Some lasagna advocates recommend covering the casserole and then uncovering it in the last ten minutes to crispen it up, but I’ve found that’s only helpful if you are working from a frozen casserole. If you plan to freeze this lasagna and eat it later, I suggest you let it thaw completely before cooking.
Now you can eat it. Comfort food that won’t kill you. Genius. Though it probably would have been a better choice NOT to eat it with garlic bread.
I went to lunch last Saturday with Kª (of KK fame, otherwise known as The Lady Downstairs) at The Rooms, St. John’s only museum/archives/art gallery/restaurant.
One of the few vegetarian options on the menu was risotto cakes with roasted vegetables in a rosé sauce, so I ordered it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The Pie and I kind of have a policy where we won’t order it in a restaurant if we can make it ourselves, and I think this is one of those things that I could easily re-create.
I had to think about this for a bit, and do some research. I haven’t made risotto in years and the last time I did so things ended badly. Not only did this risotto have to be well-done, but I had to figure out how to bake it into wedges.
I also had to think about the sauce I was going to use. I could just buy some rosé sauce in a jar from the store, but I figure if I was going to take the time and have the patience to make risotto that turned out right, then I was going to make the effort to create an original sauce to put it in.
Also, I was on a quest for the right kind of roasting vegetables. The vegetables I had at the restaurant were red, yellow, and green peppers, with eggplant and I believe zucchini. I was going to do it with red peppers only, onions, zucchini, and butternut squash because I couldn’t find any eggplant anywhere (you make do with what you have, right?).
The nice thing about this recipe, I think, is you can do all three parts separately and ahead of time, and then heat the whole thing up later on.
So let’s start with the vegetables. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut one large onion into eighths and chuck in a large baking pan. Chop 2 small zucchini into thick discs and add it to the pan, along with a red pepper, cut into long thick strips, and one butternut squash, seeds and stringy bits removed, cut into wedges. Season with salt and pepper, and toss with olive oil until all the vegetables are coated. It’s easiest to do the tossing in a bowl, actually. Cover tightly with foil and bake until golden and aromatically soft, about 30 minutes or so. I then uncovered them and baked them for a further 30 minutes so they crispened up a tad. Use your judgment. Leave the vegetables to cool for a bit while you do other things, but leave the oven on.
While the vegetables are doing their thing you can start on your sauce.
Finely chop about 6 or 7 regular-sized mushrooms. Sauté them in a large pan with a bit of butter and a bit of olive oil (the oil keeps the butter from burning) until brown and tender. Add 3 or 4 teaspoons of minced garlic (from a jar, because that’s how I roll) and reduce the heat.
Add a 28oz can (about 800mL) of crushed tomatoes to the pan. Add a 5oz (150mL) can of tomato paste and mix evenly over medium heat. Sprinkle in generous amounts of dried parsley, dried basil, and dried oregano. Let this simmer for about 15 minutes, then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping cream). Alternately, you can use plain yogurt or coconut milk. Stir carefully until fully integrated, then reduce heat to low and leave it like that, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Now we can work on that risotto of ours. In a medium saucepan, melt some butter with some olive oil (again, to prevent the butter from burning), and chuck in one whole onion, diced. Sauté that sucker for a little while until translucent.
Add in one cup arborio rice (that’s right, it’s not actually called risotto — risotto is what you make out of it), one cup of dry white wine, and a heaping tablespoon of powdered vegetable broth. Stir at high heat and allow the liquid to evaporate.
Add one cup boiling (or very hot) water to rice and stir occasionally to release the stuff that sticks to the bottom. After about 3 or 4 minutes, the water will have been absorbed by the rice. Repeat this step twice more, so the total amount of liquid you will have added will be 3 cups of water and one cup of wine. It will take about 20 minutes for the risotto to achieve its signature creamy consistency. While it’s doing that, carefully butter a springform pan and set it aside.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to the rice as well as 3 tablespoons grated romano cheese. Remove from heat and beat in 2 eggs.
Pour the risotto mixture into the buttered springform pan and level the top. Pop the pan in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the ‘cake’ is firm and golden. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
Run a soft spatula around the edges of the ‘cake’ and pop it from the springform pan. Allow to cool a bit more, then cut into wedges.
While the risotto cake is cooling, go back to your vegetables. Peel the skin from the roasted squash and roughly cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
Add the vegetables to the rose sauce and heat the whole thing up until it starts to bubble a bit.
Arrange one or two wedges in a bowl and surround with vegetables and sauce. Sprinkle with more grated romano cheese. Serves 4-6.
Cait: i think it looks so much like spaghetti that i’d be disappointed when it didn’t taste like spaghetti
me: it tastes like squash
Cait: of course it tastes like squash it’s a freaking squash
I have always been intrigued about the physical properties of spaghetti squash, although until the other day I had never tried it. We found a squash sale at Sobeys and decided to give it a whirl. I wrangled up a recipe I had been keeping for yonks out of my magic book of recipes, and I went at it.
The recipe called for 4lbs of spaghetti squash. My scale only goes up to 500g so I had to give it my best estimate. It was supposed to serve 4, so I did some mental math and came up with two squash about the size of my feet (while this may not be a standard measurement for you, it works pretty well for me).
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. The recipe said nothing to me about removing the seeds and stringy bits so I left them in and I regretted it later. I would recommend digging those suckers out with a grapefruit spoon or serrated knife.
Brush the open squash halves with olive oil, then sprinkle with brown sugar, coarse salt, and ground pepper.
Flip the squash halves face down on a rimmed baking sheet and chuck them in the oven at 400°F for 45 minutes. Cool them, in the pan and on a rack, for 10 minutes after that.
Using a table fork, dig out the contents of the squash in stringy little bits – it really is amazing how much this resembles spaghetti – and put the contents in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of roasted chopped hazelnuts (fun fact: also known as filberts), 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped herbs (the recipe called for fresh cilantro, but I only had a tiny bit of frozen stuff, so I mixed it with some frozen pesto I had made and that was that). I can assume that you would use any herb you had on hand, really.
Toss and serve immediately.
I actually wasn’t too happy with this recipe. The first negative was, of course, the left-in seeds, which, had they been properly roasted like pumpkin seeds, would have been awesome, but because they were still pretty raw, were actually kind of nasty. I also didn’t feel that the hazelnuts added anything special to this recipe. Next time, I would go with slivered almonds or pecan bits, for a milder, sweeter taste. The pesto was excellent of course, but that’s because I have mad skills. The leftovers were better the next day, but I think I will just chuck the remainder in some sort of minestrone and be done with it. Recipe to follow, I guess.