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Listed Under: Main Course

Market Meals – Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew

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Market Meals: Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew – Blog by Summer Miller

I hustled the kids out of the house, screeching at them to get in the car, and buckle their seat belts, “We have to go to school! Please! Let’s Go!” I grab my laptop and purse, forget my keys, run back to the house, then back to the car. Plop down in the driver seat, start the ignition, and click on the windshield wipers. They made the grating sound of heaving their way across the ice on my windshield.

“What!?” I said to myself while frantically looking around the car for the ice scrapper I haven’t seen in six months. “It’s early October, and I have ice on my windshield?”

I hauled myself out of the car, looked into the trunk and found the tool I needed. I gave up any hopes of getting the kids to school on time, and dutifully cut the ice from my car, one lunging scrape at a time.

Cold weather has a way of slowing us down. A much needed forceful hand guiding us to take note of what matters. The time we take fro granted so easily slips away from us in the wind, in the schedules, and the iMacs and the double shifts of life. We watch today’s versions of ourselves and our children disintegrate during the night. We wake to find we are all new people in the morning. In new light, it seems I have given up coffee and the children no longer needing help tying their shoes. This is what we want as parents – children who will grow up to forge lives of their own. Sometimes, I fear we desperately document moments we only know through iPhone photos and not necessarily because we were mentally present to bookmark the memory in our hearts.

After school and work had ended that day, my son asked for time just with me so the following morning we wobbled through the farmers market hand in hand, carrying bags, petting other people’s dogs and visiting with the farmer’s and craftspeople we know. It’s the meandering nature of the market that I value most. It cultivates community not only between the shopper and the farmer, but between the market goers as well. Being out and about with my son opened conversations about school, friends, and the kind of dog we would like to have if we ever get one (critical matters to a boy of his age). Now that these market mornings are coming to an end, I
stock up on what we need for the winter. I keep loaves of bread in the deep freeze to be at the ready when the desire for soup comes. Soup isn’t soup without crusty bread. It just isn’t. Potatoes and hard-skinned squash like butternut, spaghetti and acorn will keep for months. Maple syrup and honey will keep indefinitely, so I buy enough to get us through the winter.

We returned home to resume life in all its hectic wonder. Later that evening, I made myself a cup of tea, and rested the butternut squash I’d bought the week before from Tyler at Botna Burrow Farm on the cutting board. While I slowly sliced the skin from its orange flesh, I vowed to do better tomorrow and found myself thankful for squash stew and ice on windshields.

Recipe: Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew10

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 carrots, cut into spoon-sized chunks
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-3lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-7 kale leaves, stripped from the stem and roughly chopped

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, spices and bay leaves. When the onions soften, after about 5 minutes, add the garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes more, then add the carrots, and a 1/2 cup of water. Cover and let them cook for 10 minutes. Add butternut squash, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Give it a quick stir, cover and cook on the stovetop for about 30 minutes.

Pour yourself a glass of wine. Read a magazine. When 30 minutes is up, add the lentils. Cook for 30 minutes more, then add salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves. Toss the kale leaves into the soup pot. They are ready when softened a bit and the color brightens. This should only take a minute or two.

Ladle into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with freshly ground black pepper.

You can easily make this dish vegetarian, by substituting the broth for water. I also like to squeeze lemon juice into my soup, because I love sour and spicy together. It’s up to you.

To learn more about Summer Miller and her recipes visit the link below!

 

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Listed Under: Side Dishes

Butternut Squash With Wilted Spinach And Blue Cheese

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
  • 4 cups cubed and roasted butternut squash, warmed

 

METHOD:

Use a fork to mash together blue cheese and lemon juice in a large bowl to make a thick smooth dressing. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook, tossing often, until slightly wilted and warm, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer contents of skillet to bowl with dressing, add squash, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:

Per Serving: 220 calories (70 from fat), 7g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 740mg sodium, 33g carbohydrates, (5g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 5g protein.

SPECIAL DIETS:

Vegetarian and High Fiber.

 

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Listed Under: Appetizers

Baked Apple Chips

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 apples (Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

 

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Slice apples as thinly as possible, about 1/8-inch or thinner (use a mandolin if you have one).

Arrange slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon if using. Bake 1 1/2 hours; flip slices and continue baking 1 1/2 hours longer or until completely dry and crisp (they will not crisp more union cooling). Timing will vary depending on the moisture content of the apples and the thickness of the slices. Let cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:

Per Serving: Serving size: about 1/2 cup, 40 calories (0 from fat), 11g carbohydrates, (2g dietary fiber, 8g sugar).

SPECIAL DIETS:

Dairy free, Wheat free, Gluten free, Low sodium, Vegan, Vegetarian, Fat free and Low fat.

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Listed Under: Main Course

Market Meals – Sweet Potato and Apple Couscous

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Market Meals: Sweet Potato and Apple Couscous – Blog by Summer Miller

A Fall Dish for a Warm Day

My daughter trailed behind, alongside and crisscrossed in front of me as we walked the streets of the Omaha Farmers Market searching for our favorite fall flavors. Tyler from Botna Burrow Farm handed me a beautiful butternut squash, and out of sheer curiosity I picked up an umber colored sweet meat pumpkin. My intention was to make a squash-inspired stew, but it was still morning and already warm. My daughter selected some small gourds from another stand nearby, while I tried to think of a recipe that wouldn’t involve turning on the oven.

We walked to the opposite end of the market to visit with Gordon Miller of Grandview Farm. All summer Gordon was my main supplier of cantaloupes and onions. I must have purchased 10-12 melons from him and each one was perfectly sweet. Sadly, my summer staples were gone, but luckily they were replaced with the boxes of red-skinned sweet potatoes. The seasons have indeed shifted, and I was delighted to see these vitamin A powerhouses ready for the taking. I immediatly scooped up a few of the hefty potatoes and exchanged pleasantries with Gordon before finishing the rest of my shopping.

Over the years, I’ve had many people, including my own husband; express their disdain for sweet potatoes. Typically their only experience with the orange-fleshed tuber occurred during Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house where she smothered it in brown sugar and marshmallows. I have never appreciated sweet potatoes as dessert. I’m a savory potato person, and after a bit of convincing my family eventually realized they don’t hate sweet potatoes either, they just hate sweet potatoes swimming in sugar.

As my bags became heavy with the offerings of fall, my mind switched from stew to a lighter lunch dish or dinnertime side that would still work in warm weather, while preparing me for the cozy comfort food to come. A quick stop at Small’s Fruit Farm for apples rounded out our shopping for the morning. I rested my sacks full of heavy fall staples on a bench. My daughter did what little girls do and ran to the playground, while i daydreamed about gratitude, comfort food and couscous.

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Apple Couscous

You only need one pan and one plate to make this dish. It’s a great side, or simple lunch, as pearl couscous is really pasta. It pairs well with pork or chicken.

Serves 4-5

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large gala apple, unpeeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Chives for garnish (optional)

 

In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Once foam subsides add sweet potato and salt. you want to caramelize the potato so let it be for about 2 minutes. Once browned on one side do your best to flip the potato to sear the other side and cook about 1-2 minutes more. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you are making dinner, not building a spaceship. You want the potatoes to hold their shape, and end up seared on a couple of sides. Remove the potatoes to a plate.

In the same pan, add the apple and honey. Stir to coat. Cook for about four minutes. You want them to absorb the flavors of the pan, and soften just a bit. When finished remove the apple from the pan and add to the plate with the potato.

Add onion, rosemary and remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter to pan. Saute the onion in the butter until softened or browned. When the pan appears dry add the vinegar. Scrape up the bottom of the pan. After the onion has developed some nice color, about 2-3 minutes, and the vinegar has been absorbed remove the onions from the pan and add them to the plate with the potato and apple.

Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken stock, couscous and thyme to the pan. Stir and cover. It should take about 8 minutes for the couscous to absorb most, but not all of the broth. You want the couscous to be tender, and a bit broth. Remove the lid, add the vegetables back to the pan to warm through. Add salt to taste, a little pepper if it sounds good to you, and garnish with minced fresh chives.

Serve warm.

To learn more about Summer Miller and her recipes visit the link below!

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