Delightfully Healthy! Acorn and Red Kuri Squash

Sampling Friday, 9/23 from 4:30 – 6:30pm

Fall is approaching with crisp, cool mornings and the subtle changing of foliage. Preparing warm, soothing meals is a great way to embrace autumn weather.

If you haven’t gotten on the winter squash train yet, now is the time! Acorn squash has many health benefits: it is high in a number of nutrients, namely vitamin A, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. Because fall is just about here and winter is around the corner, we need all of the immune-boosting vitamin C we can get. When cooking acorn squash, try to avoid boiling it (unless you’re making soup) so the vitamins don’t leach out into the water.

Farro with acorn squash and kale is the perfect fall side dish. Farro is an ancient grain that is rich in fiber and protein and has a nutty flavor. It’s a wonderful base for all kinds of vegetables. The roasted, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth acorn squash is the star of this recipe; it is naturally sweet, so it pairs well with a savory grain like farro. These starches are begging for some greens, and kale is just the ticket (although spinach, collards, or broccoli could be substituted). Kale, like acorn squash, is high in vitamin C and vitamin A; however, the real benefit of kale is its out-of-this-world amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and bone health. With all of these health benefits in addition to fantastic flavors,  I have no doubt this dish will become your fall go-to—it’s certainly become mine!

The rich, golden appearance of Red Kuri Squash Soup sprinkled with toasted fennel entices the eye, while the sweet and savory flavors will make you want to linger! Red kuri, a hubbard squash, boasts a high vitamin C content, with a fair amount of vitamin A and potassium. It also contains small amounts of calcium and iron. Vitamin A plays an important role in the immune system by maintaining the function of cells that line the airways, digestive tract, and urinary tract. Additionally, it helps to develop white blood cells that defend the body from infection. Vitamin A is also important in vision.

Farro with Acorn Squash and Kale

Adapted from: Bon Appetit

SERVINGS: 2-4

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 small acorn squash, cut into ½” cubes

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 bunch (~5 oz) kale, center stems removed, leaves torn

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup farro

1/4 cup white onion, diced

1 small garlic clove, very thinly sliced

2 cups vegetable stock mixed with 2 cups water, warmed

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Toss squash in 1 T melted butter and salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet. Roast, turning squash occasionally, for 30-35 mins.

2. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add farro; toss to coat. Transfer to bowl.

3. Melt 1 T butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and aromatic. Add farro and 1/2 cup warm stock. Stir until liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding broth by the 1/2 cup and allowing broth to be absorbed between additions, 30-45 mins. Cook kale in a nonstick pan until it turns a deep green, ~2 mins. Combine squash, kale, and farro with Parmesan and 1 T butter.

Red Kuri Squash Soup

Adapted from: Food and Wine

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 4

1 1/2 pounds red kuri or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)

1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into thin wedges

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large saucepan, combine the cubed squash with the chopped onion, bay leaf and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the fennel wedges with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for about 25 minutes, until the fennel is tender and starting to brown.

3. Discard the bay leaf from the soup. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the saucepan and warm over low heat. Stir in the butter and season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with fennel, and serve.

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