Sous Vide Sweet Asian Butternut Squash

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Sous vide cooking is a girl’s best friend. Yes, a boy’s best friend, too. You see I cooked this incredibly delicious side-dish while I was out in the garden. It’s the beauty of sous vide…I don’t have to babysit the cooking process. Set it, forget it and get outside to soak up the vitamin D. Life is good and so is this butternut squash recipe.

I know. What the heck is black garlic molasses? It’s a complex flavor explosion in your mouth is what it is. Kind of like an orchestra of nutty, roasted garlic in harmony with savory and sweet dried fruit. A product of Japan it’s made from fermenting garlic and then slow-roasting the black garlic into this black gold molasses syrup. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way.

Whenever vacuum sealing I recommend putting all liquid ingredients in the bottom of the bag. Fold the top of the bag back so not to get it wet or sticky with ingredients which could prevent the bag from sealing properly. Add the squash. The squash becomes like an obstacle so the vacuum sealer doesn’t draw the liquid up to high and into the machine. Just watch.

Now just drop the bag in your heated water bath and go do something fun for an hour……

When ready to serve just snip open the bag, pour into a serving dish and toss with a little green onion and cilantro. Perfectly fork tender and fragrant this side dish can pair well any protein, but equally as good served over rice as a main dish for my vegetarian friends.

Sous Vide Sweet Asian Butternut Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 tablespoon sweet Asian chili sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon black garlic molasses

¼ teaspoon grated ginger

1 small butternut squash, peeled, cubed (2 cups)

Garnish

1 green onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Optional: add ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil to bag and then finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Heat water bath to 170F. Place chili sauce, soy sauce, molasses and ginger in bottom of cooking bag. Add squash and vacuum seal bag. Cook for 45 minutes. Pour squash and sauce into a serving bowl. Add green onion and cilantro; toss. Serves 4.

last year’s harvest

Christmas Pear & Kale Salad

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What will you be serving for holiday dinner? Prime Rib, Roast Turkey, Beef Tenderloin? Whatever your main course I have the perfect side dish to go with it.This healthy salad featuring fresh USA Pears is total “eye candy” and mouthwateringly (is that a word?) delicious.

Last, but certainly not least, this easy recipe is my final entry in the USA Pears Blogger Recipe Challenge Appetizers/Side Dishes category. It could be my favorite entry of all or maybe this pear poundcake is my favorite or I don’t know I really liked this pear crostini and this pear dessert and this pear pad Thai salad. You can’t go wrong with recipes featuring fresh USA Pears.

With a bright lemony dressing and dazzling superfood colors, textures and flavors this fresh pear and kale salad with be a feast for your eyes and party in your mouth…..

Christmas Pear & Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dressing

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, (1 lemon)

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad

6 cups torn kale leaves

¼ cup baby arugula

2 USA Pears, sliced

¼ cup honey glazed sliced almonds (or nuts of your choice)

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

Shards of manchego cheese

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a screw top lid; shake to blend. Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle kale with a tablespoon or two of dressing. Massage kale with your hands for 1 to 2 minutes or until it becomes tender and a deeper green in color. Pour remaining dressing into a small serving bowl and place in center of a large round serving plate. Arrange kale around the bowl on the plate forming a wreath. Top with arugula, sliced pears, almonds, pomegranate seeds and cheese. Spoon dressing over salad just before serving. Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

❤ Cheers to 2020. May you resolve to eat more pears ❤

For more information and delicious recipes check out the website www.usapears.org and their social media platforms @usapears Instagram  Pinterest  Facebook  Twitter

Good Grief Going Old School

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Yesterday, I attended a family reunion. It was a Sicilian love fest! I felt so fortunate to grow up in a neighborhood where all my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents lived within blocks of each other. Stuck like glue everyone gathered including those who have gone before us thanks to old home movies which were shared on a big screen. 

The more remarkable story has to do with this lady who was in attendance. She is 89 years old. Her name is Miss Robbina. She is not a blood relative, but totally part of our family. Miss Robbina was my 6th grade teacher at McKinley School in Westfield, NJ. Over the years, she taught many of my cousins, siblings and nephews, as well. She raised us up. She engaged with our parents. They were a team of high expectations and a force to be reckoned with if:

  1. We were not doing our homework
  2. Misbehaving in class
  3. Not living up to our potential
  4. Late to class
  5. the list goes on…

As much as we might try to “divide and conquer” the adults they were always in control because they supported each other.  The teachers back then were extensions of our families. Bring back the good old days in our schools. 

Inspired by those I love most here is a family friendly recipe that was recently chosen as a winner in the Explore Cuisine recipe contest. With roasted cauliflower, salty capers and sweet golden raisins it’s an old school rustic recipe updated with red lentil penne.

Skillet Roasted Sicilian Cauliflower Red Lentil Penne

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 (8 oz) box Explore Cuisine Organic Red Lentil Penne

½ large head of cauliflower, sliced into 3/4-inch planks

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed, drained

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook penne according to package directions reserving ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid. Separate sliced cauliflower into small florets. Drizzle olive oil over bottom of large unheated skillet. Add cauliflower in a single layer. Sprinkle with pepper flakes. Cover skillet and cook cauliflower over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove cover, stir cauliflower. Add golden raisins, capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta, reserved pasta water and parsley; toss well. Serve topped with pine nuts and parmesan.