Friday, October 28, 2011

Butternut Squash and Mixed Bean Salad

Butternut squash is a beautiful and delicious vegetable. With bright orange flesh, a lighty starchy texture, and remarkably sweet flavor, this great fall vegetable can be used in so many ways. Butternut squash is a terrific roasting vegetable. Just cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, brush the cut side with oil, and roast, cut side down, on a baking sheet at 350 F until tender.

From here you can scoop the pulp out of its skin and mash it with a little butter for a side dish that's particularly tasty with roast pork or fowl. Roasted butternut squash makes a rich and flavorful soup (see recipe from October 15, 2010). I like to peel, seed, and slice butternut squash before throwing it into a stir-fry.

For today's recipe, butternut squash is peeled, seeded, cubed and roasted until tender before tossing into a salad of mixed legumes. Cubed and roasted butternut squash is a lovely side dish all by itself. However, you can take these golden morsels and mix them with a variety of vegetables to make many wonderful combinations.

I used kidney beans, edamame, and garbanzo beans, but you can use whatever combination of legumes you like. I tossed the roasted squash cubes with the beans and added chopped red onion, green onion, parsley, and fennel. I made a light vinaigrette and tossed in some finely grated orange peel to jazz it up.

Here's the recipe:

2 C peeled and cubed butternut squash, approx 3/4" cubes
2 C kidney beans, canned or prepared from dry beans
2 C shelled edamame, prepared per directions
2 C garbanzo beans, canned or prepared from dry beans
1/4 C finely chopped red onion
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 C very finely sliced fresh fennel (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 T olive oil
3-4 T rice vinegar
1 t finely grated orange rind
1-2 T fresh squeezed orange juice (optional)

1. To prepare the squash: Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out and compost the seeds, cut crosswise into 3/4" slices, trim off the peel and cut slices into 3/4" cubes to make 2 C. Toss with a little olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt. Roast in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until just tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. If you're using dried beans, prepare them according to directions (usually soaking overnight and boiling for about an hour) before measuring them and proceeding with this recipe. Canned beans are fine for this recipe. Rinse them before adding them to the bowl.

3. Toss the cooled squash cubes together with the kidney beans, edamame, and garbanzos in a large bowl. Stir in the red onion, green onions, and fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar until combined. Pour over the salad. Add the grated orange rind and juice and toss until all the vegetables are coated with the dressing. Adjust the seasoning. Chill until you're ready to serve.

This recipe makes a lot of salad. You can cut the amounts in half to make a smaller salad.

Even if you make the full recipe of this salad, you're likely to have some unused butternut squash leftover. If you're feeling a little adventurous, you might consider making Sweet Winter Squash Pickles and canning them, like I did in my Master Food Preserver course last Tuesday evening.

Since September, I've been enrolled in a 12-week Master Food Preserver training program through the University of California Cooperative Extension; and I'm having a great time! We've been learning all kinds of food preservation methods, including canning, pressure canning, pickling, drying, fermenting, cheese-making and we haven't even gotten to freezing and charcuterie yet.

If you're familiar with hot water bath canning, you should have no trouble following this recipe. You'll also need more butternut squash, but that's easy to come by at this time of year. Just check out your local farmer's market. If you don't have a canner, you can still make the pickles, but you'll have to keep them in the fridge as opposed to on the shelf.

Sweet Winter Squash Pickles

2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole allspice berries
10 whole cloves
zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 C granulated sugar
4 C distilled vinegar
24 C peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash (3/4" cubes)

Yield: About six 16-oz jars

1. Prepare a sachet with the cinnamon sticks, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, zest, sugar and spice sachet. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the squash, return to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Discard spice bag.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the canner and jars. Fill the canner about 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Prepare another pan or kettle with hot water in case it's needed to cover the jars once they're in the canner. Wash the canning jars, lids, and rings well in hot water. Make sure there are no chips or cracks on the jars. Keep warm.

4. Pack the hot squash into hot jars, leaving a generous 1/2" of headspace. Ladle the hot syrup into the jars leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove the air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars. Center the lids on the jars. Screw down the band to fingertip-tight.

5. Place the jars in the canner. Ensure they are completely covered with water. Add water to the canner if necessary. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Wait 5 minutes, then remove the jars, cool, wipe clean, label, and store.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: green cabbage, white cauliflower, artichokes, butternut squash, butter lettuce, romaine, mizuna, spinach, Celebrity tomatoes, easter radishes, yellow bell peppers, and Hachiya persimmons.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Fingerling potatoes, summer squash, and pie-making pumpkin.

From Weiser Family Farms: rutabagas (yum!).

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: avocados and Satsuma mandarins.

And from Silver Lake Farms: arugula, basil, and cilantro micro-greens.



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