A Bounty of Choices Still Remain at the Farmers’ Market
Chef Shellie Kark - KitchenCUE*
As the leaves turn and a chill is in the air, the bounty of fall harvest is still available at your local farmers’ market. The variety is less, but there is still plenty to choose from including beans, lettuce, various squashes, pumpkins and root vegetables. The possibilities for recipes are abundant – as many as your culinary creativity can invent. Instead of using squash as a side dish to a protein, the root vegetables can become a hearty soup, the main ingredient in a salad, tasty bread, or even a dessert. Squashes and pumpkins can spice up a standard menu by using the vegetables in sautés, risottos, and purées. Experiment with using the earthy sweet taste of squash as a substitute for other ingredients in your favorite recipe.
Pumpkins allow for a variety of recipes and the pumpkin itself can be used as a serving bowl, the seeds can be toasted for crunchy snack and the insides can become a wonderful pie or pudding. It is recommended to use a pie pumpkin which is smaller, more orange and sweeter, rather than a large pumpkin that is used for carving. Soup is a standard favorite and acorn squash is one of the most common varieties, but any winter squash or pumpkin can be substituted and the results are equally as good. The following recipe is easy, elegant and allows the flavor of the squash to show itself.
ACORN SQUASH SOUP
Yield: 8 servings
• 1 acorn squash (about 3 lb), poked in two places with a small knife
• 2 Tablespoons butter
• ½ of a small onion, peeled, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled, trimmed and finely chopped
• 4 Tablespoons chopped parsley, split use
• Approximately 6 cups chicken stock, heated
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1/3 cup sour cream (or preferably crème fraîche)
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the whole squash in the oven and bake until very soft. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, halve, scrape out seeds, peel off skin and coarsely mash the meat. Reserve.
In a 3 quart soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion, a pinch of salt and sauté until soft and translucent, being careful not to brown.
Add the garlic and half the parsley and continue to gently sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant, being careful not to brown. Add squash, along with another good pinch of salt and stir to combine. Pour enough hot stock to cover the squash mixture by ½ inch. Bring to a gentle simmer, season with salt and simmer until flavors meld, about 10 minutes.
Purèe the soup in the blender, in batches, and strain through a bowl strainer into a clean pot. Bring to just a simmer, whisk in the sour cream and heavy cream and adjust the consistency with more hot stock, if necessary. Do not re-boil once sour cream has been added. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and remove from heat.
Serve hot, garnished with remaining parsley.
* KitchenCUE, an educational and interactive DVD series, measures real value by teaching viewers the core methods of cooking rather than focusing on the execution of a specific recipe. Step by step and piece by piece, KitchenCUE will help develop viewers’ culinary confidence because good cooks are made, not born. To purchase the first in the 24-volume DVD series visit www.kitchencue.com or your local Tattered Cover Bookstore.