Wednesday, February 15, 2012

butter-roasted butternut squash, quiche, and fast fake aioli

I have to share with you this insanely delicious, absurdly simple way to cook winter squash.  Once again what I'm giving you is a recipe adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe (he calls it Roasted Winter Squash Slices), and I'm sure you get it by now - Bittman makes great, simple recipes we should all cook all the time... but I feel the need to share this in particular because the recipe says "oil or melted butter" and if you're anything like me, you usually opt for oil when given the choice between the two, especially for oven roasting.  But I'm here to say, forget the oil for once, TRY THE BUTTER!  It is COMPLETELY different from roasting in olive oil.  The butter - it browns! and turns nutty and fragrant in the oven during the roasting time, and I've never tasted more complex, rich, delicious squash flavor.  I'm also going to tell you about a version of a crustless spinach quiche my friend Emily recommended (which she adapted from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen), and which we ate together with the squash for a very delicious eat-the-rainbow type vegetarian meal.

Butter-Roasted Winter Squash

(this works well with a sturdy squash you can peel and cut into slices, like butternut, i.e. I don't think acorn would be ideal here.  However, delicata would totally work because you can eat the skin, plus it makes pretty flower shaped slices).

1 winter squash, peeled, seeded and sliced somewhere between a 1/4 and 3/8ths inch thick
3 tbsp salted butter, melted
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.  Brush a sheet pan generously with some of the melted butter using a pastry brush.  Lightly butter both sides of each slice of squash, again with the pastry brush, placing them on the sheet pan as you go.  Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, flipping halfway through.

That's it.  And now...

Spinach Quiche Minus The Hassle of Pastry Making

1 tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 to 6 eggs
salt and pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk or cream if you have it
10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out very throughly
3/4 to 1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
1 russet potato, microwaved for 3 minutes or until cooked through (optional), peeled and diced
4 to 6 scallions, sliced thin
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or other melty cheese (jack or swiss or PEPPER jack! etc)

Preheat oven to 375 (at this temperature, you'll have to bake it a relatively long time, probably 45 minutes, but I chose to do it at that temperature so it could bake along with the squash; if you're in a hurry and this is all you're baking you can put the oven up to 425 and it will probably only take 20 minutes or so).

Brush a pie plate with the melted butter (ok if the excess pools up in the bottom).  Combine the panko and the parmesan, and sprinkle them into the pie plate, tilting to coat all the buttered surfaces with cheese and breadcrumbs (ok if more sticks to the bottom than to the sides).

In a large bowl beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.  Add the milk or cream (you could also add a little sour cream - amounts are very flexible).  Add the spinach, peas, potato, scallions and cheese, and stir to combine.  Pour into the pie plate, and put it in the oven.  Mine took the better part of 45 minutes to get fully cooked all the way to the middle.  You can just check with the tip of a knife starting at about 35 minutes.

Let it cool a bit before serving.  It's good hot, warm... leftovers were delicious cold, even. 

You could serve the quiche with a super fast fake aioli for a dipping sauce (spanish tortilla style):

Super Fast Fake Aioli

1/2 cup Hellman's/Best Foods Mayonnaise
1 medium to small sized garlic clove, finely minced (I grate mine on a microplane zester)
juice of half a lemon (less even, maybe a quarter)
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix the mayo, garlic and lemon juice.  Whisk in the oil a little at a time.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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