Saturday, November 22, 2008

Butternut Bonanza

We recently visited friends in Buffalo, New York who belong to a farming cooperative. They pay a yearly fee up front to the farmer, then visit the farm once in the year to do a 6-hour work shift, picking beans, weeding, or whatever, and they get fresh, organic produce every week. Someone in their neighborhood drives to the farm, picks all of the food up, packs it in individual bags, and leaves it on her porch. All my friends have to do is walk a couple of blocks to the neighbor's house, pick up the bag, and go. It's a great deal for everyone. Only thing is, you have to use up whatever's available, and sometimes that means having 7 huge butternut squash in your house for a week.

These friends left for a 10-day cruise while we were there, so they gave us the address and asked if we would pick up and use the produce. Of course we would.

I spent the morning when we returned looking up recipes for butternut squash, and so the next four entries or so here will chronicle what I did with the squash. I made three quarts of butternut squash and sage soup, a few jars of butternut squash and ginger relish, and two dozen butternut squash and walnut muffins. We had friends over for dinner last night, and this is one of the things we made. I found the recipe on Epicurious and realized that if I adapted the recipe a bit, I had all of the ingredients in my fridge except for the phyllo dough, which my friends picked up on the way over. You could probably substitute something for the bacon (seitan, perhaps? Nuts? Seasoned tofu?) to make the dish vegetarian.

Beet Greens, Butternut Squash, and Bacon Pie

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3.5 cups)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 (1/8-inch-thick) slices bacon (the recipe called for pancetta, but I couldn't be bothered)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 pounds beet greens, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (16 cups. The recipe called for kale, but I had a bunch of beet greens, so I used those)
1/4 cup water
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
1 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)

Special equipment: a 9-inch round heavy nonstick springform pan

Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat and sauté squash with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring frequently, until browned and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and reduce heat to moderate, then cook onion, bacon, garlic, sage, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown and carmelize. Stir in beet greens and water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until greens are just tender.  Cool, uncovered, to room temperature.

Brush springform pan with some of butter. Unroll phyllo and, working quickly, gently fit 1 sheet into pan with ends overhanging and brush with butter (including overhang). Rotate pan slightly and top with another sheet (sheets should not align) and brush in same manner. Repeat with 5 more sheets, rotating pan each time so sheets cover entire rim.

Gently stir together squash and cheese in a bowl.  Spread half of greens mixture in phyllo shell. and spread half of the squash mixture evenly over the greens. Top with remaining greens, then top with the remaining squash.

Put remaining sheet of phyllo on a work surface and brush with butter. Fold in half crosswise and butter again. Fold again (to quarter) and brush with butter, then lay over center of filling. Bring edges of phyllo up over filling (over quartered sheet of phyllo) to enclose. Brush top with butter and bake until deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool pie in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Remove side of pan and transfer to a platter. Cut into wedges (leave bottom of pan under pie)

Serve with a generous dollop of thick yogurt.  The flavor is so rich that you don't need to season the yogurt at all.

1 comment:

Daisy said...

I love the recipes. But honestly you cook too complicated for me. I am a busy mother that doesn't get to eat at 10 p.m. at night. I usually have to eat between 5 and 6 p.m. due to schedules at meetings, at school, band etc.etc. Baking (which I do a lot of) on the other hand can be done in the morning and enjoyed anytime after whatever I bake is cool enough. I do not have the luxury of eating late. The Pork chops looked delicious - but no recipe. Whats up
with that.