January 18

Dressing Up Squash Soup and Tuna for a Lite Nite Bite

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Sorry to have been so lazy at the blog desk of late, but we’ve been on the road and unlike Mike, I don’t do well blogging from the airport lounge or passenger’s seat of a car. Besides, doing so would require that I wrest control of the laptop and Verizon National Broadband from his grasp. Not an easy undertaking, I can tell you. I do much better from my own little old desk.

On our recent swing through Colorado, we stayed a few nights at the venerable Hotel Boulderado. The last night we were there, we’d been to see our dentist (as readers of Mike’s blog will know) and wound up missing breakfast and eating a large lunch late in the afternoon, which made us too full to eat dinner at a normal time.

Thus, we ended up in the hotel’s Corner Bar restaurant about 10 pm for a lite nite bite. They had a great Ahi Tartare appetizer on the menu that, when paired with a bowl of their Roasted Squash Soup, was just enough for me. Mike opted for heartier fare, despite the lateness of the hour.

The soup was in consistency and flavor much like the pumpkin soup recipe I blogged on last fall, only made with acorn or Hubbard squash instead of pumpkin. The recipe would work well with an equivalent amount of any winter squash variety. What set the Boulderado’s soup apart, though, was a centered dollop of what I took to be sun-dried tomato and herb butter and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil around the periphery. These additions really augmented the savory flavor of the soup and dressed it up nicely.

The pumpkin seed oil, a dark green flavorful and very healthful oil, you can find at any good health food grocery and I feel sure, on line as well. All you have to do with it is just drizzle it on in a wider circle around the center dollop. As to the butter, I didn’t ask about the recipe but I would guess that you could concoct the butter like you would any compound butter. My version would be this:

Sun-dried Tomato and Herb Butter

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter
3 or 4 whole oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or rosemary leaves
Pinch of coarse salt (natural sea salt if you’ve got it)

1. Put softened butter, sundried tomatoes, 1 clove of garlic, salt and the fresh rosemary or parsley leaves into the workbowl of a food processor and blend until a uniform soft pink color.

(You could use a soft dollop right away in your own bowl of squash soup, drizzle the pumpkin seed oil around it and voila, you’re practically at the Hotel Boulderado. If you’re not ready to use it, or use all of it…)

2. Turn the mixture out onto a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper and form into a log about the diameter of a stick of butter. Wrap it tightly and let it firm up in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
3. Then unwrap and slice log into 8 or 10 equal pats, wrap it back up, put into a zip freezer bag, and freeze it.

Then you’ve got it to use as needed (bring it to room temp first) for topping a yummy squash soup or on veggies or meat or fish.

As to their Ahi Tartare, that would be a snap to duplicate:

MD’s Ahi Tartare a la Boulderado

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients
4 ounces fresh sashimi grade ahi
1-1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon wasabi paste
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
1/2 packet Splenda or Stevia
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 small bunch watercress, washed, trimmed, and dry
1 tablespoon pickled ginger, if desired

1. Dice the fresh ahi into 1/2″ pieces and place them into a bowl large enough to toss them with dressing. (Stick the ahi, wrapped in plastic, into the freezer for about 15 minutes beforehand to make it firmer and easier to cut cleanly.)
2. In a small bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients except the oils and let them sit for 10 or 15 minutes to marry the flavors and infuse ginger into the liquid.
3. Drizzle the oil in slowly as you whisk to make the dressing.
4. Pour all but one teaspoon of dressing over the diced ahi and toss gently to coat evenly.
5. Divide mixture, centering each serving on a chilled plate, drizzle a bit of the reserved dressing onto each plate and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Finish the plates with half the watercress and a side of pickled ginger, if desired.

At the Boulderado, they served theirs with three artfully-displayed, herbed-flatbread triangles; I nibbled one, but they weren’t worth spending the carb grams on and, besides, it’s a beautiful, healthful, and yummy dish without them.


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