I spent my day working out of The Butcher Shop in the South End today. We had a big photo shoot in the morning of some giant cuts of meat (i.e. ribeye, 2-inch thick filet mignon, rack of lamb) for a brochure for Savenor’s market. I love days like today where I get work done but don’t have to sit in an office.
While sitting at the window at TBS, I looked outside and saw all sorts of beautiful, fresh produce at Siena Farms, which is just next door. There was a big box of acorn squash out there just starting me in the face. I had to buy some. And I did. What resulted was an easy dinner that looks way fancier than it actually is. Perfect for impressing that special person in your life. Or yourself. You’re special too.
Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Eggplant
2 acorn squash, about 1 lb each
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 eggplant, small dice
1/2 vidalia onion, small dice
Salt, pepper, herbs de provence
3 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut top off each squash. The top should only be about an inch down from the top of the squash. You want the top to look like a little hat.
Scoop out all of the seeds and threads and throw away.
Place squash opening down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. Having the squash opening down will allow it to steam itself.
Melt butter and oil together. Saute onions over medium heat until translucent. Even longer if you want them to be more tender.
Add eggplant to onions. Saute until eggplant is cooked through.
Season with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. I found this mix to be the best when a bit on the peppery side. It offsets the sweetness of the squash perfectly.
In a medium sized bowl, mix cooked quinoa and eggplant/onion mixture.
Take squash out of the oven, place on a place. Fill each squash with quinoa/eggplant/onion mixture.
Serve with top of squash for effect (If that’s your kind of thing. It was mine. Squash Hat.)
In the Mexico edition of Saveur, Diana Kennedy was described as being the “Julia Child of Mexico.” I received two of her cookbooks from my dad last Christmas, and finally decided to open them.
First I felt the need to make chiles rellenos (literally “stuffed chiles”). I decided to make a vegetarian chile relleno because I had zucchini and squash leftover in my fridge. They were delicious – spicy chiles filled with tender squash, salty cheese, and tangy onions.
And after reading Diana’s recipe for Mexican rice, I realized I was wrong on my previous Mexican rice blog post. While my made up version of Mexican rice is delicious, it’s not the traditional Mexican rice (which I have since realized is made with tomatoes). I must say, though, I am quite happy that I’ve realized the error of my ways. This rice is WAY better.
Up until a few weeks ago, I hated meatloaf. Unrefined. Heavy. Covered in ketchup. Gross. Not my thing.
Then, along came Cooking Light, a magazine I’ve begun to subscribe to, and a recipe for meatloaf. I scoured the ingredients looking for ketchup so that I could turn the page and forget this recipe ever existed. But ketchup was nowhere to be found. So I kept reading. I was intrigued. I made. I devoured. This recipe has a complexity and depth of flavor that I wasn’t expecting. The three types of meat give it its complexity, the red wine gives it a nice tang, while the cremini mushroom sauce is the perfect complement to all of the above. This picture doesn’t do this meatloaf justice, but with how delicious it is, I’ll be sure to keep making it.
1 tbsp butter (I don’t usually use butter – but definitely worth using here)
4 oz cremini mushrooms, finely chopped (you can find these at Whole Foods if you’re having trouble finding them)
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 tsp flour
1 cup lower-sodium beef broth
2 tbsp 2% milk
pinch black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and saute for 2 minutes. Add shallots and carrots, and saute for another 8-ish minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add tomato paste; cook for 1 minute. Add wine; cook until liquid is almost entirely evaporated (around 2 minutes).
Remove pan from heat and let cool at least 5 minutes. It is important to cool this mixture before combining with other ingredients because if it is not cool, it will begin to cook the meat, egg, etc. Save the pan for making the sauce. Do not clean the pan or discard any of the crumblies that stick to the bottom of the pan. These will make your sauce better, I promise.
Combine breadcrumbs, pancetta mixture, milk, salt, pepper, egg, and all three meats. Mix gently until all combined.
Transfer mixture into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan coated (heavily) with cooking spray. Not using the cooking spray will make you sad when it’s time to clean up. Do not pack the mixture in, but rather just spread it out so that it’s even.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
When there is about 10 minutes left until the meatloaf comes out of the oven, go ahead and begin your sauce.
To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in the same saucepan as you sauteed your pancetta, carrots, and shallots in earlier. Add the mushrooms and shallots set aside for the sauce. Saute for around 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour and cook for 1 minute.
Add 1 cup of beef broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 2% milk, salt, and pepper. Cook for another minute. Serve with meatloaf.