Doctoring 101: Late-winter Squash
February 21, 2016
For lunch yesterday I took two little squashes from last week's CSA delivery, each the size of a softball, bright orange, and pointed at one end. I cut them into half-inch slices, not bothering to peel them since the skins are edible. I rubbed olive oil onto both sides and interlocked the cute little crescents on a baking sheet, then quartered and added four unpeeled apples.
I baked all this, uncovered, for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and that was lunch (well, there was also a cup of root vegetable soup left from the day before). Unfortunately, those little squashes were over the hill. It's mid-February, after all, and they were tired and lacked any squash flavour. The apples helped, as did salt and pepper,but the dish was pretty much a bust. Even I didn't like it, and I love squash.
Well, waste not, want not is the motto around here, so here is today's lesson on doctoring. I put the remaining pieces of squash and apple into a saucepan and covered them with homemade chicken stock. As I brought it to a boil I added a pinch of coriander, a pinch of cumin, and a larger pinch of chipotle chile powder. I stirred in a tablespoon of frozen orange juice concentrate, a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and a tablespoon of an excellent orange marmalade with shredded carrot.
When the squash was quite soft I pureed the whole thing with an immersion blender, tasted it, and declared it a great improvement over the squash we had had for lunch.
But before we ate it, I poured it, in all its bright orange glory, into a navy blue bowl and squiggled in a bit of yogurt.*
Summarizing this first Doctoring 101 lesson:
A spoonful of Dijon mustard perks up just about anything
Smell your spices and imagine them in your current concoction. I my case, I thought about (and smelled) cardamom as a possibility, but rejected it. The coriander and cumin were much better choices.
A spoonful of frozen orange juice concentrate adds an intense orange flavour and a bit of sweetness.
Marmalade is another magic ingredient, offering bitter and sweet at the same time. The orange marmalade I used had carrot shreds in it, which fitted in perfectly with the squash.
*For the yogurt squiggles I spooned a heaping tablespoon of whole-milk yogurt (unflavoured) into one corner of a small plastic bag, Gathering up the rest of the bag into a pouch around the yogurt I then cut a tiny opening in the corner so that I could squeeze out the yogurt. If I had made the opening smaller, I would have had more delicate squiggles. But you get the idea.