Articles

Very Orange

In Uncategorized on 03/31/2010 by evinthecity

It seems that the foods I eat follow themes, depending on the week. There are times when I crave textures, such as crisp salads, crusty bread or fresh, silky fish (usually in the form of sushi). There are also times when I long for certain flavor combinations – sweet and creamy gelato, salty, smoky barbecued chicken or my mother’s perfectly sweet Sunday marinara sauce with just the right touch of heat, fat (from the meatballs) and garlic. My diet changes like the seasons of my sentiments and these seasons only rarely integrate.

This week, however, it’s all about orange.

Kabocha squash has been on my mind, big time. Out of the many foods I’ve come to love, my relationship with this deceiving sweet thing has been especially heated. The affair began last fall, when after curiously meandering by the piles of green pumpkins stacked in my favorite Chinatown markets for weeks on end, I finally mustered up the courage to buy one of my very own. I brought it home, hacked it open with abandon, gutted its virgin seeds and tossed it into the hot oven for nearly an hour. After my first taste of the warm, smooth-but-substantial, sweet but not too sweet flesh, I was over the moon for it. I’ve used the squash in curries, soups, warm vegetable salads, sandwich spreads, oatmeal additions – the permutations are endless.

However, I’ve discovered that not all kabocha squash are created equal. Many kabocha converts I’ve talked to prefer theirs on the sweeter, softer side. Not I. I prefer my squash to be less ripe, starchier, firmer and less sweet – it’s a lot more versatile in savory recipes and holds together better.

Like this easy one.

Soy and sesame braised cauliflower with kabocha squash.

Really, there’s no “recipe” involved. It goes like this:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Innards

Cut open a kabocha squash and scrape out the seeds. Flip it cut side down onto a foil lined baking sheet (this isn’t how it’s pictured – the cut sides are facing up here), and bake for anywhere from 40 minutes to over an hour, depending on the size of the squash. This was a hefty fellow.

When the squash flesh is fork tender, peel it if you want to – but the skin is edible (and delicious!). Let it cool completely, and voila! You have a roasted squash at your disposal for any recipe your heart desires. It’s a culinary Choose Your Own Adventure.

For the cauliflower part, you need the following:

Soy sauce

Cauliflower, rinsed

Sesame oil

1-3 Garlic cloves, peeled

Sriracha

A 10-12 inch, relatively deep skillet with a lid

As much cubed, roasted squash your heart, stomach or cravings desire.

And here’s what you do:

Cut the cauliflower into small-medium sized florets.

Mince those garlic cloves.

Add the cauliflower, garlic and a few tablespoons of soy sauce  and a tablespoon of water to the skillet and cover until both steam. When the cauliflower is “al dente,” add the squash to heat it through and cover, about two minutes. For the last few moments of cooking, remove the lid and let the rest of the liquid evaporate (the squash is GREAT at sucking up the soy sauce), and drizzle the mixture liberally with sesame oil and sriracha, stirring it gently. Plate and devour.

That’s all she wrote.

Like I said, I prefer my kabocha to be on the starchy, mildly sweet side for savory recipes. This one was a bit too sweet and ripe for my tastes, so I was left wondering what to do with it.

Enter kabocha oats with coconut buter.

Simply cook some old fashioned oats on the stovetop and add:

Cubed, sweet kabocha

A spoonful of artisana coconut butter, melted slightly in the microwave

A splash of vanilla

A dash of cinnamon

A hit of brown sugar

Eat up.

Oh, and that’s another thing.  I’m currently in love with Artisana Coconut Butter. It smells like heaven and melts like luxurious frosting when heated gently. Over sweet potatoes, in oatmeal, on top of spaghetti (hey, if that’s what you’re into)…it’s a product that I always like to have on hand, because it’s absolutely delicious. And healthy too!

I have a train to catch, but expect a new post quite soon! I hope I gave you your daily orange fix.

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