My best friend and her partner hosted a party that they called the "Global Warming Extravaganza" in Valley Forge, about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia. The drive from Brooklyn wasn't too bad, it was only about 2 1/2 hours (not counting the two wrong turns we made!). The best part was when we drove through Valley Forge National Park, full of deer--silouhettes and shadows in the moonlight.
The party was a nice mix of people and generations, classes, cultures. I don't know why they called it the Global Warming Extravaganza; they actually used the occasion to announce their commitment to one another!
But for me, it was the first time my boyfriend met my best friend, which was really important (and went very well, by the way). It was also the first party of the season, so I started looking around for an exciting recipe. Things were a little hectic at my place the day before we left. I was having my guest room painted by a friend, so there was paint and furniture everywhere. Amidst the clutter, I found a recipe online on my laptop for a butternut squash dip. I went to Sahadi's for the ingredients: walnuts, goat cheese, and olive oil. There's a great vegetable place next to Sahadi's where I get fresh spices, squash, veggies, and garlic, too.
Unfortunately, when I got home, I couldn't find the recipe again! I searched Epicurious.com, cookinglight, com, allrecipes.com, and cooking.com to no avail. So I found a recipe that was somewhat similar on the New York magazine website, but it didn't have the goat cheese. So I made this one up and it worked out pretty well. Here's how I made it:
Garlicky Butternut Squash dip with goat cheese and walnuts
1 medium butternut squash
6 oz goat cheese
1 cup of toasted walnuts
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Bag of whole wheat pita bread
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking pan. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and place on the pan with the squash-halves. Bake the squash and garlic.
While these two ingredients bake, place the goat cheese, 1/2 cup of walnuts, salt, pepper, olive oil, and paprika in a medium-sized bowl. No need to mix, as the hot ingredients that you add later will melt the cheese and allow you to mix them more easily.
Check the garlic after about 25 minutes by unwrapping the foil and seeing if the garlic is the consistency of a paste. Pop out the garlic cloves onto the cheese and wait for the butternut squash to get soft. Once you can scoop a tablespoon out of the center of one of the halves, take out the squash. Don't turn the oven off 'cause you'll use it again.
When the squash is cool enough to touch, but still warm, scoop out the insides into the bowl with the cheese mixture. I used a hand mixer, but I suppose you can use a blender, to mix the ingredients. Spoon into a decorative dish, and wait for the mixture to cool.
Toast whole wheat pita bread in the oven and cut into wedges. Once the pita is cool, cut the wedges into a bag and seal.
Pack up a bag of ½ cup of toasted walnuts to sprinkle on top when you get to the party. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the spread.
I put a sign next to the spread so that people knew what it was, and those that were brave enough to try loved it. I'd definitely make it again!