Thomas Keller’s Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter

While unloading my CSA box, I spoke with another member about what she was making with all of the butternut squash we were receiving in our share. She said that there was no better way to use it than this soup! It was a great recommendation.

This recipe was adapted from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon,” via The New York Times, contributed by Amanda Hesser. Hesser described it as “astonishingly flavorful and complex.” It was creamy, silky, and incredibly delicious. I made it for my mom on her birthday! 🙂 It would also be wonderful as part of a holiday meal.

I loved that it incorporated leeks, shallots, and yellow onions- and brown butter, of course. The toppings also gave it a lovely presentation.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 3-to-3½-pound butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (about 2 leeks)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, more if needed
  • Bouquet Garni made of 8 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves and ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, all wrapped in a packet made of 2 green leek leaves or cheesecloth
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut the neck off the squash and set it aside. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Brush each half inside and out with about 1½ teaspoons of the canola oil. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper and tuck a sprig of sage into each. Place cut-side-down on the baking sheet and roast until completely tender, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh (discard sage).
  3. Meanwhile, using a paring knife, peel away the skin from the neck of the squash until you reach the bright orange flesh. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups).
  4. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and thinly slice into half moons. Soak in a bowl of water. Using a slotted spoon, lift from the top before using.
  5. Put the remaining canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the leeks, carrots, shallots and onions and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the diced squash, garlic, 11/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook gently for 3 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from coloring.
  7. Stir in the honey and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  9. Add the roasted squash and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
  10. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni.
  11. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and purée. Alternatively, use an immersion blender in the pot.
  12. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  13. Place the crème fraîche in a small chilled bowl and stir in nutmeg to taste. Whisk until the crème fraîche holds a shape. Cover and refrigerate.
  14. Gently reheat the soup until just hot. If it is too thick, add a little more stock.
  15. Heat a medium skillet or butter warmer medium-over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, scraping up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the butter is a hazelnut brown, pour it into the pot of soup — keep a safe distance, it may sputter — then stir.
  16. Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Grind some black pepper over the top and sprinkle on the chives. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

Raw Zucchini & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Yogurt

I loved everything about this beautiful salad. We ate it with Turkish Grilled Chicken– such a wonderful meal. It was one of the best zucchini dishes I’ve ever made.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street, contributed by Elizabeth Mindreau. It was re-created from a salad served at Coal Office, a modern Middle Eastern restaurant in London.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • about 3/4 to 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 T tahini
  • zest from 1 large lemon, plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp plus 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 15 1/2 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • 2 small/medium zucchini (12 to 16 ounces total), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced on a steep diagonal
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • ground sumac, to serve, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon zest and juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the chickpeas, shallot, vinegar and za’atar. Cover and microwave until the shallot is wilted, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. (see Tip)
  3. When the chickpeas have cooled, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the zucchini, mint, dill and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the chickpea-zucchini mixture to a platter, spooning it around the edge.
  5. Scoop the yogurt mixture into a mound in the center of the chickpea-zucchini mixture.
  6. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with sumac, if using.

Tip: Don’t forget to cover the bowl containing the chickpeas and shallots when microwaving. Covering traps steam that helps wilt the shallots and soften the chickpeas. And remember to occasionally stir the chickpea-shallot mixture as it cools. This helps ensure the chickpeas evenly absorb the seasonings pooled at the bottom of the bowl while also hastening the cooling.

Oven-Baked Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta

I have served this flavorful dish as a vegetarian main dish served over baby spinach and as a side dish with rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower and green salad. So versatile! I also love that it is made in one pan.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with Couscous with Quinoa, Orzo, and Garbanzo Beans and modified the proportions and method. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved (or a combination grape & small Campari- quartered)
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish (about 2 large)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 3 oregano, rosemary or sage sprigs
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, dill or parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous (1 1/2 cups)(I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Brain blend)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups feta, crumbled (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)( I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, cake pan or gratin dish (I used a ceramic 9×13 baking dish), toss together tomatoes, shallot, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and rosemary, oregano, or sage sprigs. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes roast, heat the stock (or stock and water) until it boils, then stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, adding more to taste. (You want a well-seasoned broth here to flavor the couscous.)
  4. Stir in cilantro, lemon zest and cumin.
  5. Remove tomatoes from oven and fold in couscous, chickpeas and hot stock mixture. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and fold in the Parmesan and about 3/4ths of the feta (save the rest for garnish). Bake uncovered until feta starts to melt, another 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, pull out and discard herb sprigs if you like, and spoon couscous into bowls. (I served it in the baking dish as a side dish.)
  8. Top with remaining feta, more Parmesan, scallions, more herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as desired.

One-Pot Creamy Pasta & Greens

This dish makes creamed spinach the main event rather than a decadent side. This version is actually less indulgent as well. It incorporates milk instead of cream and uses pasta and its starch as a thickener.

The original article actually states that classic creamed spinach isn’t that good. :/ I love creamed spinach! For years, my husband and I used to celebrate his birthday at a steakhouse- the creamed spinach saved me. (I’m not a steak fan!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I used loads of fresh greens from my CSA share rather than frozen chopped spinach. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish (with roasted CSA veggies on the side) but it could also be served as a hearty side, of course. Creamy and filling.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 cups whole milk, plus more as needed (I added an additional cup of 1% milk)
  • 1 pound stemmed and sliced fresh greens (I used a combination of kale, collard and cauliflower greens) OR 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 wide lemon peel strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • dash of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 10 to 12 ounces ditalini, orzo or pearl couscous
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  1. If using fresh greens, stem, slice, and wash them.
  2. Place the greens in a steamer basket in a large pot (I used a pasta pot); cook until wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Strain the steamed greens to drain as much excess liquid as possible. (I used a ricer for this task.)
  4. Chop the steamed and strained greens; set aside.
  5. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the 5 cups milk, chopped greens (or spinach), lemon peel, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, if using, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the greens (or frozen spinach) with your spoon, until the greens have softened and the milk is just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until the pasta is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If it looks dry at any point, add more milk. (I ultimately added an additional cup of milk.) The mixture will continue to thicken as it sits, so it’s okay if the sauce looks a little soupy.
  8. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, discard the lemon peels, and stir in the Parmesan until melted.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.

Stuffed Peppers with Thai Curry Rice & Mushrooms

My friend who shared her bounty of homegrown eggplant also shared mini bell peppers from her garden. Loved it! Lucky me. 🙂 I searched for a special way to use them. These stuffed peppers were a complete success- everyone in my family enjoyed them.

This recipe was originally intended to be a vegetarian main dish using full-size red bell peppers. I used these mini peppers instead and served them as a side dish with sautéed kabocha squash and rotisserie chicken.

This dish was full-flavored and delicious. The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Emilee and Jere Gettle. Absolutely wonderful.

Yield: approximately 10 mini bell peppers or 4 full-size bell peppers

  • 10 mini bell peppers or 4 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 T unsalted butter or grapeseed oil 
  • 2 medium shallots, minced 
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced 
  • coarse salt 
  • 3/4 cup long-grain white rice (I used Basmati) 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste 
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped with or without seeds, as desired (I ribbed and seeded the chile)
  • 8 oz cremini or oyster mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chopped spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil, preferably Thai, plus more for garnish (I used Italian basil)
  • freshly squeezed juice from half of a large lemon
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Slice the tops off the peppers and cut the tops into 1/4-inch dice; discard the cores and stems.
  3. Boil the hollowed out peppers until just tender, about 3 minutes for mini peppers or 4 minutes for full size peppers. Using tongs, carefully transfer the peppers to paper towels to drain, cut side down. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water.
  4. Mince the shallots and garlic in a mini food processor, if desired; remove and set aside.
  5. Dice the jalapeno and pepper tops in the food processor. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and garlic, season with salt and cook over moderate heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until toasted, 2 to 4 minutes.
  8. Stir in the coconut milk, ginger, curry paste and the 1 1/2 cups of reserved pepper water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is absorbed, 25 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  10. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the diced bell pepper tops and the jalapeño and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until tender, 5 minutes.
  12. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned, 4 minutes longer.
  13. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Add the vegetable mixture to the rice and stir in the basil and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.
  15. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and set them in a shallow glass, ceramic baking dish, or rimmed baking sheet. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  16. Tent with foil and bake for about 22 to 25 minutes for mini peppers or up to 45 minutes for full size peppers, until the rice filling is steaming and heated through.
  17. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Brussels & Broccoli Agrodolce with Cranberries & Chilies

This is a simple and elegant vegetable side dish that I served as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. It was easy to prepare while the turkey was resting after being removed from the oven. The dried cranberries and fresh chilies added contrasting color and flavor. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ann Taylor Pittman. I substituted Shishito chilies for Fresno. I also modified the method. I wish that I had doubled the recipe! Next time. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts (about 3 cups), halved lengthwise 
  • 6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 14 ounces) 
  • 5 T avocado oil or canola oil, divided 
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot 
  • 4 Shishito chiles or 1 medium-size fresh red Fresno chile (about 1/2 ounce), thinly sliced 
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed 
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) honey 
  • 1 dried bay leaf 
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  1. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven. Preheat oven to 425 on convection or to 450°F. Leave baking sheet in oven as it preheats. (I set my oven to convection roast.) 
  2. Place Brussels sprouts and broccoli in a large bowl; drizzle with 4 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Toss well to coat.
  3. Carefully remove hot baking sheet from oven.
  4. Add Brussels sprout mixture to baking sheet; spread in an even layer.
  5. Roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and browned and broccoli tops are frizzled and almost burned, 15 to 18 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add shallot, Fresno chile, and coriander; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot starts to soften, about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in vinegar, honey, bay leaf, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly syrupy, 6 to 8 minutes.
  9. Stir in cranberries; cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have plumped slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. 
  10. Place roasted vegetables in a large bowl; add cranberry mixture, and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Sautéed Greens with Corn, Bacon & Scallions

I have a couple dishes to share that are absolutely loaded with greens. This colorful dish could be served as a main but we ate it as a hearty side with grilled mustard chicken thighs and roasted potatoes. I drizzled the potatoes with residual bacon fat (from this dish) prior to roasting- great.

This recipe was adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman, via The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I modified the method and incorporated my CSA beet greens, kale, and collard greens. The original recipe notes that carrots or summer squash can be substituted for the peppers and corn. Easy and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6 as a side

  • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot or small onion, minced
  • 3 cups corn kernels, from about 4 ears corn (or a combination of corn and diced summer squash)(thawed frozen corn okay)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper (or carrot)
  •  pinch red pepper flakes
  •  coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 6 to 8 cups de-stemmed greens, like chard or kale, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons (or whole baby spinach, or another tender green)(I used a combination of beet greens, kale, & collard greens)
  1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Transfer to paper towels to drain; pour off all but a teaspoon of fat from the skillet. (Reserve the bacon fat for another use- such as roasting potatoes!)
  2. Add butter and melt.
  3. Add shallot (and carrot, if using) and adjust heat; vegetables should sizzle, but not scorch. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add greens and cook for about 4 minutes, until beginning to wilt.
  5. Add corn (and/or squash), peppers, and pepper flakes and let sizzle, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Crumble bacon and add to skillet with scallions. Cook together 1 minute and serve hot.

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