Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday Night Dinner

Yesterday I made dinner for my boss' family and it was fantastic. I'm really loving being able to do this and get the chance to experiment and play more than I usually do. I made a green salad, roasted butternut squash soup, and stuffed zucchinis. 


I have this...thing where I am super amused by making a "green salad." The amusement stemming from the fact that it's a play on words and quite literally the salad is entirely green. I've also found that this is both really beautiful as well as delicious almost no matter what I throw in. This one has greens, including spinach and arugula, cucumber, and avocado. I also made a dressing with fresh Italian parsley incorporated. Other green things that are awesome in a green salad...zucchini, peppers, basil (just incorporate some whole leaves with the other greens and it is fantastic), apple, pear, broccoli, green beans, green onion, artichoke hearts, snap peas...the possibilities are endless!

 The soup I made was amazing and also super simple. I had some compound butter I'd made last week by cutting together butter with thyme, basil, Italian parsley and some garlic powder. I used that and placed pats of it on my butternut squash (cut in half) then sprinkled just a tiny bit of brown sugar over it. I put it in the oven at 400 degrees Farenheit (I know some of you are in Canada) and let it get soft and golden. I did peek in a few times to re-baste the liquid onto it. While that was going on I saut√©ed some onion with rosemary and thyme. Whenever I have too much of a fresh herb and I know it will go bad before I have a chance to use it I dice it up and put it in a silicone ice cube tray with olive oil then freeze it (I put mine in freezer bags as well so things don't smell). This made it super easy to just pop out one of the rosemary ones and one of the thyme ones to throw in with the onion.

Once the squash was roasted it scooped out of it's skin easily and I threw it in the blender with a splash of cream and the onions. I blended it until smooth and put it into a pot with some vegetable stock I had made and frozen a couple weeks ago. Once it was hot it was done and delicious.

 I worked on my zucchini filling while the squash was roasting and really there was no plan. I sort of just grabbed things we had and needed to use. I cooked lentils and diced potatoes together (the starch from the potatoes helps thicken the lentils), threw in diced tomato, some arugula, mozzarella, and some chilis I roasted.

To make the zucchini fill-able I scooped out the insides with a spoon, put the outsides on a cookie sheet, drizzled with olive oil, ground some salt and pepper over them and threw them in the oven with the squash for about five minutes. When I took them out and stuffed them because the filling was cooked already I really only had to throw them in again long enough to melt the cheese and cook the outsides a little longer, probably another five minutes or so.

Obviously the key was having some things already made in order to do the soup but if you haven't made your own vegetable stock yet you need to. It's incredibly simple and uses up a lot of the waste you have from cutting veggies. Some people cut up vegetables specifically for stock but I just use the "garbage." I take the ends of the carrots and whatever I peel off and the bottoms and tops of celery and the ends of the onion (I made my last stock while making veggie pot pies), throw in some herbs, and let it sit on the stove on loooooow low low for the entire day. It will reduce a lot but you should still have a bunch (use a BIG pot). Afterwards strain it and keep some in the freezer during the fall and winter to make quick and easy soups.

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