The snow already capping the Sierra peaks I can see across Lake Tahoe from our house turns my thoughts to crackling evening fires and comfort foods. With the chill in the air and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I decided now would be a good time to search out some new and different twists on the savory flavors of fall.
One of my favorite autumn and winter vegetables is butternut squash. I love it as a thick soup; I love it as a savory puree with roast pork tenderloin; I love it as a substitute for yams in holiday casseroles; and I’m always on the lookout for tasty new ways to prepare it.
On a recent trip, I came across just such a recipe, while thumbing through the in-flight magazine after take off, waiting to reach cruising altitude to be told I could turn my approved electronic device to the ‘on position’, so that I could get out my iPod and silently work on learning all the music for my Santa Barbara Choral Society’s upcoming holiday concert.
We’re doing the Bach Magnificat (so lots of syllables and notes), the first movement of the Rutter Magnificat, the Poulenc Hodie Christus Natus Est, and a wide variety of holiday carols from around the world, including a couple in Russian. So lots to learn; thus my eagerness to turn my iPod to the ‘on position’.
The ‘on position’.
I loathe airline-speak. Whoever it is that writes the stuff the flight attendants have to read or memorize ought to take a course in communication. (Of course, the flight attendants, themselves, could often use a course in enunciation, so maybe it’s just as well that what they’re sing-songing to us is idiotic drivel.) But I have to wonder where they came up with ‘on position’ and ‘off position’ and ‘fully upright and locked position’ . What was wrong with the old standard ‘turn on’ as in ‘You may now turn on whatever it is you’ve brought on board to amuse yourself with during the flight, as long as it doesn’t transmit or receive a signal.’
Clearly, we fly too much. And I digress…back to squash.
The recipe that I ran across (with my magazine in the open position) combined roasted butternut squash, rosemary, and shallots.
As Rachael Ray would say: Yum-O!
It wasn’t too much of a carb challenge as written, although there was some sugar involved, but I decided that apart from ditching the sucrose, there were a few other minor modifications I could make that would drop the carb load even more and be delicious and nutritious to boot.
So when we got home, I set about to do just that. My version is savory and slightly sweet with just a little heat and spice in the background. Here’s the result:
Roasted Butternut Squash with Celeriac, Chiles, and Shallots
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 cup celeriac (celery root), peeled and diced
1 fresh poblano or pasilla pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
3 shallots, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 packet Splenda or Stevia
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Place the diced squash, pepper, and shallots on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the cinnamon, sweetener, salt, and pepper and toss to coat.
2. Roast in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Stir, and continue roasting for another 10 minutes until tender.
3. Meanwhile, place the diced celeriac into a sauce pan, cover with water, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
4. When squash and shallots are tender, add the celery root to the roasting pan and roast for another 5 or 6 minutes.
5. Check seasonings and serve.