I had a winter squash plant growing in my compost pile. I think they were from the Kabocha squash, they were the right shape, but they never changed from green. Some aged and wilted before ever turning orange, so I rescued the biggest, healthiest looking one and figured I would see what would happen when I tried to cook with my mystery squash.
It was the perfect size, 3 1/2 pounds, for the winter harvest stew in Anna Thomas’ The New Vegetarian Epicure. This is one of the cookbooks I pull out in the winter to use my winter squash and sweet potatoes. I have made only minor adaptations of the recipe (for instance, I do not peel my potatoes), so I will use her original recipe in this post.
I made a basmati rice & orzo pilaf as the substrate. Couscous or rice would also work well.
The stew is very tasty and surprisingly refreshing. Not heavy at all, but quite satisfying. The only downside is the number of pots you have going at once. It seems like there are always 3 pans on the stove; when one step finishes, it is replaced by another. Luckily the pots gets to multi-task, so I only had 3 pots/pans to be washed in the end.
Winter Vegetable Stew
From The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas
1 medium to large Kabocha squash, 3 – 3 1/2 lbs (from the garden) note: if Kabocha squash is unavailable, use buttercup, Hubbard, or acorn squash.
2 large onions
2 fennel bulbs
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 medium russet potatoes
3 cups light vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (from the garden)
1 lb mushrooms, preferable wild, thickly sliced (I just used local white button mushrooms)
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (from the garden, frozen)
1 bunch kale
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 – 2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp soy sauce
Cut the squash in half, scrape out all the seeds, and, using your biggest, sharpest knife, cut it into inch-thick slices.
Pointing your knife always away from you, cut away the thick green peel, and cut the orange flesh into 1-by-2 inch chunks.
Peel the onions and cut them into thin wedges. Wash and trim the fennel, halve the bulbs lengthwise, and cut them into thick slices.
Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a large heavy non-stick saute pan (I did not use non-stick and has no problems, but you do have to keep more of an eye on things) and add the squash, onions, fennel, about 1/2 tsp salt, and black pepper to taste. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, stirring and turning them often, until the onions and fennel are limp and all the vegetables are begeinning to color in spots – about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel (I did not peel them) and cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Put them in a small pot with the broth and white wine, bring the liquid to an easy boil, and cook them for about 10 minutes.
In another non-stick pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olie oil, add 1 chopped garlic clove, and stir it in the hot oil for a minute. Add the sliced mushrooms, a dash of salt, and the cayenne pepper, and saute the mushrooms, stirring often, until they release their juice, it cooks away, and the mushrooms are beginning to brown.
Add the mushrooms, the tomatoes, and the potatoes in the broth to the squash mixture. Lower the heat , cover tightly, and let the stey simmer for about 30 minutes. The vegetables should be tender, and the potatoes and squash will fall apart around the edges just enough to thisken the juices slightly. If the mixture seems dry, add a drop of water or wine.
Wash the kale thoroughly, slice it off its stems, and cut the leaves into big pieces.
Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan you used for the mushrooms, and stir the rest of the garlic in it for a minute. Add the kale and toss it with the garlic and oil and a little salt just until it wilts, then stir it into the stew.
Add the cider vinegar, honey, and soy sauce to the stew and turn up the flame. Stir everything together for a few minutes as the juices cook down a little and form a glaze.
Taste, correct the seasoning with more salt or pepper if needed, and serve on big deep plates, with couscous or any rice pilaf. Enjoy!
Serves 6 – 8