Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Walnut and fresh herb-stuffed squash with golden plum sauce- vegan

 
From allotment...
...to table!
This dish is ideal for late summer, using the seasonal produce available at this time. It's not a complicated recipe at all provided you follow the sequence, and the flavours of the walnuts and subtly tangy sauce are a perfect foil for the delicate, creamy flesh of the squash. Serve with rice or potatoes and steamed fresh vegetables for a substantial but not at all stodgy dinner and it even looks good enough for a dinner party. This recipe will feed 2-4 people, depending on how hungry they are and what you serve with the squash. I've included step-by step photos this time so you can see how it's done.

  • First, take 2 medium-sized acorn squash or any other summer squash or marrow,or  even young kadu. Cut them in half across the middle and carefully hollow out the seeds with a knife and spoon, leaving the flesh in place, as shown below:

  • Next, coat the outsides of the cut squashes in a good oil such as extra-virgin olive oil or organic cold-pressed sunflower oil and stand them on an oiled baking tray. Pre-cook them in an oven preheated to 225C for about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the filling:
          100g crushed/ chopped walnut halves
          100g ground almonds
          100g porridge oats
          3 medium carrots or parsnips/ the equivalent in peppers or sweet potato, grated
          a good handful of fresh sage, rosemary and flat-leaved parsley, washed and coarsely chopped
          1 tab soy/tamari sauce/ liquid aminos
          1 tsp hing
          seasalt, black pepper, paprika and smoked paprika to taste


  • Combine all the dry ingredients, then mix in the soy sauce and grated vegetables. Don't worry if it seems a little dry as the juices from the squash will moisten it as it cooks, and there will be a sauce poured on top of the finished dish. It should, however, be at least moist enough to hold together somewhat when pressed. 
  • Pack down firmly into the part-cooked squash halves and bake at 200C for a further 20-30 minutes.
  • Use the time while the squashes are baking to prepare the accompaniments and make the sauce. (This recipe assumes you know how to make a roux). Once you have assembled the ingredients it is quick to make.
            2 tabs good olive or sunflower oil
            1 1/2 tabs plain wheatflour
            1 tab soy/ tamari sauce/ liquid aminos
            1 tab ume plum dressing (a Japanese-style rather salty vinegar-substitute with a strong fruity tang)
            1 dsp powdered turmeric (haldi)
             hing to taste
            1 dsp agave nectar
            a little water
           200ml unsweetened soya milk
  • Carefully make the roux from the oil and flour, heating the oil gently before you add the flour.
  • When smooth, remove from the heat and gradually add the ume, turmeric, hing, soy sauce and agave nectar along with a little warm water to make a thick creamy paste.
  • Return to a low heat, slowly stirring in the soya milk a little at a time until you have a glossy, golden-yellow sauce the consistency of thin custard. Set aside until the squash is baked.
  • You will know when the squash is baked because the skin will be soft and slightly browned in the oil, and a sharp knife carefully inserted into the squash will indicate that the flesh is soft.
  • To serve, warm the sauce if necessary, stirring to avoid lumps forming, and pour over the baked squash. Cut each squash half into portions according to the number of people you are serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs- I used flat-leaved parsley.
You could try this recipe with Welsh onion squash, a squat little orange-coloured vegetable, but you may have to make the filling wetter as the flesh is a little drier than that of marrows or acorn squashes.







       

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Food from Rhodes...Greek delights!

The following pics show why I didn't really cook much last week in Rhodes...
Nuts, dried fruit bars and yummy traditional sesame, honey and almond bars

crystallised fruits (check out the colourful kiwis!) marzipan fruits, dates and  sesame halva

Herb and spice blends, "Turkish" delight in various flavours

Dried figs.. not a patch on the fresh ones we picked from the trees every day!
I did get some inspiration for cooking at home, though.... keeping it simple, with quality ingredients like good extra-virgin olive oil (wish we'd bought more; it's nearly all gone!) and fresh local produce. You can't get more fresh and local than homegrown fruit and veg, and I saw many little gardens with peppers, climbing beans, aubergines,  butternut squash and tomatoes as well as flowers. The locally-grown Kos lettuce was fab: crisp yet deep green and tasty...