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October 22, 2010

Roasted butternut squash with sauteed kale and leeks over curry pureed cauliflower and jerusalem artichoke


For this simple autumn harvest feast we’ll need:

-1 medium-large butternut squash
-1 medium-large head of cauliflower
-2 large Jerusalem artichokes
-1 bunch of kale (about 1 pound)
-2 medium sized leeks
-butter, cream, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, or other mashed potato ingredients
-1 tsp curry powder
-pinch of cinnamon, coriander, and chili powder
-1 tsp brown sugar
-garlic salt
-olive oil
-1/2 cup parsley pesto or chimichurri (pesto, olive oil, parmasean cheese, walnuts, and garlic all blended together)

So to get started, let’s preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out all the seeds and guts. You could bake each half whole, then cut into portions afterwards, but I’m going to slice these into roughly inch-thick crescents first.


Grease a baking pan and add the squash. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle on the cinnamon, coriander, and chili powder. Toss on some salt and pepper and the brown sugar and toss the squash to coat evenly. Arrange the squash pieces skin side down. Put the pan on the middle rack to bake for about 40 minutes, or until fork tender. Place a pan with one inch of water on the rack below the squash, which will help prevent it from drying out. Baked squash is a very easy and forgiving recipe, so feel free to play around with the seasonings to your hearts content.


While the squash is baking, let’s get the mash underway. Put a steamer basket in a large pot and ass about ½ inch of water. Cut the end off the cauliflower and chop it into manageable florets (size doesn’t really matter, though, because we are going to puree it after cooking). Rinse and peel the Jerusalem artichokes (which are a sunflower relative, by the way) and chop them into one inch chunks.


Put the cauliflower and Jerusalem artichokes into the pot and cover with a lid. Bring the pot to a boil then back the heat off to medium or even a bit lower. Steam for about 15 minutes, or until the Jerusalem artichokes are fully tender (they may take a little longer than the cauliflower).


When the veggies have steamed, drain out the water. Add your creamy ingredients. I prefer cream, butter, and just a touch of sour cream or plain yogurt, but I leave the decision up to you. Some people use chicken or vegetable stock for a lower fat alternative. I say nuts to them, bring on the butter!


Add garlic salt to taste and lots of fresh ground black pepper. Add about ¼ teaspoon of curry powder at first. You can always add more later, but you can’t take it out if you add to much! I’m going for just a hint of the curry taste, and don’t want it to overpower everything else, so I’m goignt o start with just a little bit.


Puree the cauliflower and Jerusalem artichokes using a hand blender or a ricer or potato masher if you prefer. This smells delicious, even just from the simplicity of the cauliflower and sun chokes alone! I think this meal is starting to come together nicely! Put a top back over the puree and set aside.


While we are still waiting for the squash to bake let’s sauté up some yummy, healthy, vibrant kale. Start by slicing your leeks the long way and carefully washing out any sand or grit from between the leaves. Don’t rush on this step, because there is nothing worse than ending up with a sandy mouthful.


Slice the leeks, discarding some of the green tops if you wish (I tend to use the whole thing except the very root end). Heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil to medium high and sauté the leeks in a big pan until they become translucent. Turn down the heat to medium. Chop the kale into roughly 1 inch strips and add to the pan. You may  want to add a chopped clove of garlic as well. Add a pinch of salt and maybe a small splash of orange juice or lemon, if you wish. You may want to add a small splash of water if you skip the orange juice, to help the kale cook. Saute, stirring frequently, until the kale turns a darker green and is tender.


Finally, let’s pull our beautiful baked butternut out of the oven and arrange this fall feast. Give each person a generous foundation of creamy, curry kissed cauliflower and Jerusalem artichoke puree. Next, top with 4 slices of spiced, baked butternut squash. Arrange a small pile of kale between each piece of squash. Finally, drizzle each plate with a little bit of parsley pesto, which I keep in the freezer. You can just use a bunch of fresh chopped parsley if you can’t be bothered to go all out.


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