Everyday Gourmet10/16/08

Oct. 16, 2008

By Kim Dannies

Crash course at the market

Stocks are so cheap Wall Street is now called Wal-Mart Street, but for food shoppers, nothing looks like much of a bargain at the market.

As always, it’s nutritionally and economically best to eat what’s in season, so this is the perfect time for a crash course on fall harvest vegetables. Squash, pumpkin and root veggies such as carrot, celery root, rutabaga, parsnip, onion and beet are perfection when roasted until caramelized. Loaded with natural sugars and ripe with earthy flavors, they substitute beautifully for meat in pasta, quesadillas, stews and soups.

Eliminate cooking jitters by prepping ahead. Squash and pumpkin may look a little intimidating until you realize that all you have to do is split it down the middle, place it face-down on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and pop it into a 375-degree oven until you can smell the sugars release, about an hour. Let it cool; use a fork to scrape the seeds away and harvest the flesh into a work bowl. Presto! Maximum flavor with no peeling, chopping or boiling. (You can also rinse and roast pumpkin seeds for a yummy snack).

To prep root vegetables, simply peel and cut into medium sized chunks, toss with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt, and roast for 45 minutes; turning occasionally. Any combination of root vegetables can be roasted together, but keep the beets separate, as the juices will stain a whole batch purple.

Here’s an easy squash casserole that would make an excellent main dish; add a side of braised apple and kale, and a loaf of warm wholegrain bread.

Cider-spiked spaghetti squash

Cut 1 large spaghetti squash into 4 quarters, and roast for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Cool; scrape the flesh into a large prep bowl using a fork. (It really does look like spaghetti!) In a jar mix 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of powdered clove, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Shake well. Pour over the squash, mixing lightly.

Spray a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with vegetable spray. Pour in half of the squash mixture. Layer 6 ounces of provolone cheese over the squash. Add the remaining squash. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncovered. Top with breadcrumbs and bake until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Bread crumbs: In a processor chop 3 cloves of garlic. Add 2 slices of whole wheat bread and pulse lightly until bread crumbles. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil and pulse 2 to 3 more times.


Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.