Winter squash two ways on D is for Dinner
Michele Piironen is the owner of Food To Grow, a personal chef service
Whether you're a busy parent or a single person on the go, making home-cooked meals can sometimes seem like a real challenge.
But before giving up and heading over to the microwaveable food aisle, Michele Piironen has some advice.
Piironen, the owner of Food To Grow, prepares made-from-scratch meals in her kitchen and delivers them to the time-crunched Ottawans who subscribe to her personal chef service.
This week on D is for Dinner, Piironen stops by CBC Ottawa's All In A Day studios with a couple of practical, homemade dishes that highlight a common winter vegetable: the humble squash.
Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons
- ¼ cup butter.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped.
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped.
- 3 -14½ oz. cans chicken broth, low-fat and reduced-sodium.
- 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces.
- 4 cups acorn squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces.
- 1¼ tsp. fresh thyme, minced.
- 1¼ tsp. fresh sage, minced.
- ¼ cup whipping cream.
- 2 tsp. sugar.
- 2 tbsp. butter.
- 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated.
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced.
- 1 tsp. fresh sage, minced.
- 1 baguette cut into ¼-inch thick slices (24).
- For the soup: melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the broth, squash and herbs and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree soup in a blender.
- Return to the same pot and stir in the cream and sugar and bring to a simmer.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Soup can me made up to one day ahead — in which case, chill and reheat prior to serving.
- For the croutons: butter one side of each bread slice and arrange, buttered side up, on a baking sheet.
- Place under broiler and broil until golden, about 1 minute.
- Turn over and sprinkle bread slices with cheese, then thyme and sage, then salt and pepper.
- Broil for about 1 minute, or until the cheese melts.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top with croutons.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Gingerbread Candied Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 6 cups salad greens.
- 3 cups butternut squash, diced into ¾-inch cubes.
- 2 cups pecan halves, chopped.
- 1 small ripe pear, sliced.
- ¼ cup red onion or shallots, finely sliced.
- ⅓ cup olive oil, plus 2 extra tbsp.
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
- 1 tbsp. butter.
- 2 tbsp. honey.
- 1 tbsp. sugar.
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard.
- 2 tsp. brown sugar.
- 1 tsp. ground ginger.
- 1 tsp. cinnamon.
- 1 pinch cayenne.
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves.
- Kosher salt.
- Preheat oven to 300 F.
- In a medium saucepan, add honey, sugar, spices and a pinch of salt and heat and stir until combined.
- Remove from heat, add pecans and stir until evenly coated.
- Arrange nuts in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until fragrant and crisp.
- Allow to cool completely, then break apart any nuts that have stuck together.
- Place the diced squash on a heavy-duty baking sheet.
- Drizzle 2 tbsp. of olive oil over the squash and sprinkle with ¾ tsp. salt. Toss to coat.
- Roast the squash until browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Flip with a metal spatula and continue to roast until browned on the other side — about 5-10 minutes more.
- Set aside to cool.
- Place the onion or shallots in a large bowl, cover with water, let soak for 15 minutes and then drain in a colander.
- Combine the vinegar, mustard, brown sugar and ¼ tsp. salt in a bowl and whisk vigorously while pouring in the remaining olive oil.
- Place the onion or shallots and salad greens in a large bowl, sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt, and drizzle just enough of the dressing to give it a light coating and toss gently.
- Divide the greens among six plates and scatter the pecans, squash and pears over the greens.
- Drizzle with more dressing if desired and serve.