Tag Archive | squash

Squash Couscous

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I don’t know about you, but I boil very few vegetables. Boiling, as a cooking method, doesn’t exactly bring out the best in vegetables, at least not for me.

This Canadian Living, squash couscous recipe caught my eye, but the picture did not appeal to me at all because the vegetables were essentially boiled in a flavoured broth and served over couscous. However, I loved the other elements of the recipe, so changed the cooking method to get something more palatable for me.

I omitted the broth entirely. Instead, I pre-roasted the squash (I replaced the butternut squash with delicata squash, one of my favourite types of squash) in the oven and cooked the zucchini in a shallow frying pan until golden. If the weather was better, I would have grilled the zucchini on the barbecue. I heated up the oil, cooked the onion, flavourings, and seasoning, and added the chickpeas, squash, and zucchini to absorb some of the flavours.

The result was incredible, with no soggy or boiled down vegetables. In fact, the roasting and shallow pan frying imparted additional flavours bringing out the best in these vegetables, namely their sweetness, still maintaining their shape and bite. It looked like a cornucopia of autumn goodness with mounds of seasonal, caramelized vegetables, embellished by just a hint of honey and a good handful of raisins. Together with the chickpeas and couscous, the dish is a complete vegetable protein and a fitting celebration of the season.

I prepared this for my mother and my mother-in-law (yes, they are both in town at the same time) and there were no leftovers…

If you pre-roast the squash from the night before or the weekend, this dish takes minutes to prepare. Served over a bed of couscous, it really does look special though no one will ever know just how quick and effortless it really was.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

 Oil, canola  1/4 cup
 Onion, Spanish, roughly chopped  1
 Ginger, fresh, grated  1/2 tsp
 Salt  1/2 tsp
 Black pepper  1/2 tsp
 Turmeric  1/2 tsp
 Raisins  1/2 cup
 Honey  1/4 cup
 Couscous:
 Couscous, whole wheat  2 cups
 Water  4 cups
 Salt  1/2 tsp
 Olive oil  Splash
 Roasted Delicata Squash:  Splash
 Squash, delicata, cut into 1-2-inch pieces  1.5 lbs
 Olive oil  1/3 cup or so
 Salt
 Black pepper
 Pan-fried Zucchini:  Splash
 Zucchini, green, medium-large,  cut diagonally into 1/4-inch thick pieces  2
 Canola oil  1/2 cup
 Salt
 Black pepper
 Chickpeas  19 oz can
 Harissa  For serving

Directions:

  1. To prepare the delicata squash, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, remove the seeds, and cut the squash into 1-2-inch pieces. There is no need to peel delicata squash. When roasted, the peel becomes very thin and is edible. In a roasting pan, combine squash, olive, salt, and black pepper and roast until caramelized, approximately 45-60 minutes. If I am making this during the week, I normally roast the squash from the night before or the weekend.
  2. To prepare the couscous, follow the instructions on the package. I placed the couscous in a medium bowl and added a splash of olive oil and salt and then poured the boiled water over the couscous, covered it with saran wrap and let it stand for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I fluffed the couscous with a fork.
  3. To prepare the zucchini, cut the zucchini diagonally into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Season with salt and black pepper. Heat the canola oil in a frying pan and cook zucchini, turning once, approximately 3-4 minutes on each sides, until golden.
  4. In a medium pot, heat canola oil over medium heat.
  5. Add onion, ginger, salt, pepper and turmeric and cook until the onions become translucent and are beginning to caramelize slightly, approximately 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add raisins and honey and cook for a couple of minutes.
  7. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, approximately 5 minutes.
  8. Add roasted squash, pan-fried zucchini, and parsley and cook until they are warm and thoroughly combined with pot ingredients, approximately 5 minutes.
  9. Dump couscous onto the centre of large platter. Arrange vegetables over couscous. Sprinkle with more parsley. Serve with harissa as a side or drizzled on top.

Peas & Mushroom Bundles

Peas & Mushrooms 2

On my last grocery trip, I came across the most beautiful white button mushrooms, which were on sale for $0.88 a half pound. Though white button mushrooms are not my favourite, they instantly brought me back to my childhood. It seemed that at every big family function or celebration, the peas and mushroom dish made an appearance. The dish was introduced to the family by my cousin, Felicia. It was loved by all, so much so that it appeared so often that it became a classic dish. I’m not sure I can call it a classic Italian dish, but we were Italian and we made it often enough, so it definitely became a classic for this Italian family.

I haven’t made it in years, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because for most, it would serve as a side dish. In fact, the dish could easily be incorporated into a main meal given that peas and mushrooms together make a complete vegetable protein. So, my challenge was turning this into a presentable main dish.

In the fridge, I had a package of bean curd sheets, which I had picked up, without knowing what I was going to do with it, on our last adventure to T&T. I love visiting T&T. I can easily spend a couple of hours there carefully exploring each and every aisle, discovering new products, and stopping for lunch, of course.

The idea came to me on my way home from groceries. The bean curd sheets would work beautifully as a pouch. A nice low carb alternative to the traditional puff and phyllo pastry types. It crisps up ever so slightly when cooked, is delicately seasoned with the tamari, and has the most satisfying, chewy, texture. Stuffed of course, with the peas and mushrooms, sweet and creamy, and served over a nice, thick steak of roasted acorn squash, also delicately sweet, but with a depth of flavour that far surpasses any other squash, including the butternut squash.

Such a beautiful main vegan dish that’s loaded with so many levels of flavour – and protein! The bean curd sheet alone has approximately 12 grams of protein! I was so stuffed from eating this dish that there was no snacking for me that afternoon!

My husband and I took very different approaches in how we tackled eating this dish. I’ll leave that part up to you.

The dish brought me back to those wonderful big family celebrations and fond memories of my cousin, Fel, who has long since moved away. It’s a new twist on an old family favourite!

Serves 4 (with some extra peas and mushrooms & acorn squash as leftovers)

Ingredients:

Acorn Squash:
Squash, acorn 2
Olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
Peas & Mushrooms:
Olive oil 4 tbsp (3+1)
Onion, small, chopped 1
Garlic, clove, large, minced 1
Mushrooms, button, white, quartered 24 oz (1.5 lbs)
Peas, fresh or frozen 4 cups
Oregano, fresh, chopped 3 tbsp
Salt
Black pepper
Bean Curd Sheets:
Bean curd sheets, cut into squares or rectangles, approximately 3 oz each 12 oz
Tamari 1/2 cup
Oil, canola
Onions, green 2

Directions:

Acorn squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut the acorn squash in half, remove seeds, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  3. Roast squash in oven for 45 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Remove from oven and cool. Cut lengthwise into 1-inch slices. You should end up with at least 4 large rings. If the squash is large enough to get 4 thick slices, you may only need one.

Peas & Mushrooms:

  1. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
  2. Sautee onions until tender, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, salt and black pepper and increase heat to medium-high.
  4. Cook mushrooms until their moisture has released and evaporated, approximately 15 minutes. Cook for 2-3 minutes more until mushrooms begin to brown.
  5. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. Add the frozen peas, fresh oregano, and one additional tbsp of olive oil. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until tender. If you are using fresh peas, you’ll need to par-boil/steam them in advance.
  7. Check and adjust seasoning to taste. Remove from heat.

Bean Curd Sheets:

  1. Cut bean curd sheets into 4 rough squares or rectancles.
  2. Brush lightly on each side with tamari.
  3. Heat a little bit of canola oil over medium heat in the same pan you cooked the peas and mushrooms. You will require very little oil to avoid sticking. Do not deep fry them.
  4. Cook each bean curd sheet one at a time for a couple of minutes on each side until golden. Be careful not to over cook them or the sheets will become too brittle to work with.
  5. Remove sheets from heat and set aside until they are all cooked.

Green Onions:

  1. In the same pan, sautee the green onions for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Cut in half lengthwise to make them more pliable for tying.

Assembly:

  1. To assemble, measure 1 cup full of peas and mushroom mixture onto each cooked bean curd square. Fold each of the four edges to the center bringing all four sides together. Tie corners together using a green onion. If you require additional support, use a toothpick.
  2. Place one slice of roasted acorn squash on each plate. Top with a bundle of peas and mushrooms. If in season, a nice addition is a scant drizzle of scape pesto.