Butternut Squash

Inspired by the huge bowl of pumpkin seeds we had left after carving jack o’ lanterns last weekend, Libby and I decided to take on a recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli with Pumpkin Seed Pesto someone had posted on grouprecipes.com. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves in for…

First off, each pumpkin seed had to be individually hulled. Our huge bowl of seeds amounted to a paltry 1/2 cup after we (mostly Libby, who invented a fabulous technique involving systematic tiny pinches between the teeth) spent hours hulling the damn things. We were so exhausted that we decided to postpone the project for another day.

Four days later, we finally had everything assembled – butternut squashes boiled, pureed, and sauteed with onions and Earth Balance (we decided to make the ravioli filling using the squash from Weeks 2 & 3 since the pumpkin meat was currently in the form of rotting jack-o-lantern), pumpkin seeds roasted and blended into pesto, filling prepared – and then finally we made our ravioli. We didn’t make our own pasta (Thank God – it would have been another week!) but used premade wonton wrappers instead (sold in the supermarket in the produce section with the tofu and the fresh Asian noodles) which worked beautifully.

It was, admittedly, incredibly delicious. And, honestly, in no way worth all that work. However, there are many ways this process could have been streamlined, and I loved the ease and the artistry of making tortellini and ravioli shapes with the wonton wrappers, so I’m sure some much-simplified form of this recipe will live on in my kitchen.

Boxwise, this recipe used butternut squash, onions, and garlic. We ate our ravioli with a green salad with lettuce and carrots and green beans and radishes from Week 2 or 3 (I have a serious lettuce backlog) and the entire bunch of arugula sauteed with garlic. (I wouldn’t do this again – I was worried about all the greens I got this week going bad before I could eat them, so I cooked up the giant bunch of arugula, but it was so much tastier raw… oh well, I’ve learned now.)

Just for fun, here are Libby and I posing with the parent pumpkins who donated their seeds and started this whole mess in the first place!Halloween with the vomiting punkin and the hand-eating punkin

Green Beans

Best. Side dish. Ever.

My mom and I used to always make this huge, beautiful, delicious Nicoise Salad from an old Sunset Magazine picnic-food cookbook. It’s fairly labor intensive as it involves a lot of ingredients which get prepared separately and then layered. At some point, trying to figure out a green-vegetable side-dish for Thanksgiving, I came up with the idea of just preparing the green bean portion of the salad – so basically blanched green beans in Nicoise dressing. This is a surefire crowd-pleaser, every time, and so easy to prepare.

Green Beans Nicoise

1-2 lbs. string beans
1/2 C. to 1 C. olive oil
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
2 T. capers
A squirt of anchovy paste (I leave this out now due to vegetarianism, but boy is it yummy!)
1 t. salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Dissolve the salt in the vinegar. Pour in the olive oil, slowly, stirring continuously. Add capers, anchovy paste, and pepper.

Blanch the beans in boiling water until barely tender. Drain and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water, or run under cold water until cool. (Or for a warm dish you can prepare the dressing ahead, blanch the beans, drain them and throw the dressing on top and serve them hot before they have the chance to overcook.) Pour dressing over beans and let them marinate as long as you like.