Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk, Miso and Lime

This soup is special.  If I were having this at a restaurant, I’m sure it would go like this:  a fancy  presentation in which a wide shallow bowl is slid in front of me, with only a mound of rice artfully constructed in the center.   The server would then take a miniature pitcher and pour the brightly colored soup all around, leaving me with an island of rice surrounded by a terra cotta sea.

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut MIlk Miso and Lime (4 of 4)

When I make it at home, it’s not quite so fancy but it’s still elegant and special.  In part because I’m using ingredients that are new, and therefore “special” to me.   I usually ignore “Asian” recipes (I put ‘Asian’ in quotes because if we’re being honest it’s far too large an area to lump together, culinarily or otherwise) as I am not familiar enough with the ingredients.  My history of coconut milk is not impressive (for goodness sakes, I couldn’t even be counted on to buy the right product the first time I used it).   I didn’t have a clue where miso was to be found in the grocery store, (by the way, it’s refrigerated?!) much less be expected to decide between red, yellow, and white.  This whole time I thought miso was a soup, maybe a powder, but certainly not a concentrated paste of fermented soy beans.  And while red rice isn’t so new to me, it certainly is prettier (and coordinates nicely with the butternut squash, since we’re talking aesthetics).

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut MIlk Miso and Lime (2 of 4)

The tastes all meld so nicely too:  partly pureed and partly chunky means the soup is smooth but feels substantial enough to stand on its own.  All the key ingredients work together because they are all hint at sweet but each have their own additional complexity, from the savoriness of miso to the luxurious texture of coconut milk.  The heat of the pepper and the brightness of the citrus are key players to balancing out the soup.

It’s really a standout–both to look at and to eat.  And a nice reward for doing what I always tell my kids to do–trying something new.

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk, Miso and Lime
Recipe Type: soup
Author: Adapted from Deborah Madison’s [url href=”http://www.amazon.com/Vegetable-Literacy-Gardening-Families-Deliciously/dp/1607741911″%5DVegetable Literacy[/url]
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 T light sesame oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 t crushed Aleppo Pepper
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1/2c cilantro stems or leaves, chopped fine
  • salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) light coconut milk
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2c red rice
  • 1-2 t coconut butter
  • 2 T white miso
Instructions
  1. Cut the squash in half crosswise, just where the neck of the squash joins with the round (seeded) end. Bring a half inch or so of water to a boil, lower to a simmer and place the seeded end in (unpeeled and uncored). Put a lid on and steam until soft, about 15 minutes, while you continue with the recipe.
  2. Peel the neck and cut into 1/2″ pieces.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep soup pot, and then saute the squash cubes together with the onion and ginger. After a few minutes, add the aleppo pepper, turmeric, and cilantro stems and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and three cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, check on your round end of the squash (it’s a good idea to look from time to time anyway to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate fully). When soft, remove the squash and when it’s cool enough to handle, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and discard. Then scrape the soft flesh from the skin. Puree the flesh together with a cup of the soup liquid until smooth. (You can use a blender, a food processor, or an immersion blender to do this). Pour this back into the soup, and add the lime juice.
  5. While the soup cooks, also cook your rice. It will depend on the rice you use, but generally speaking you can count on about a cup of water for the half cup of rice. Boil the water, then add the rice, stir, and turn to the lowest heat and cook covered for about 20 minutes. When finished, stir in the coconut oil.
  6. When the soup is done, take a cup of liquid out and mash the miso paste into that. (It’s easier than adding the miso directly to the soup–mixing the miso into just a small portion of soup allows you to be certain you have fully dissolved it). Return this cup to the soup and heat through if necessary.
  7. To serve, pour the soup into bowls and then add a scoop of rice to the center. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut MIlk Miso and Lime (1 of 4)

Butternut Squash Leek Galette

There’s some recipes I forget about for the better part of the year, but suddenly find myself coming back to wondering, “where have you been?”  And then, I can’t imagine anything more satisfying.  No surprise that I”m suddenly drawn to this warm, savory tart:  It’s inextricably married in my mind to the gentle chill that’s insinuating itself into the morning air, the burnished colors of autumn leaves, and the warmth of the indoors in the increasingly darker evenings.

Butternut Squash Leek Galette (2 of 8)

It’s a recipe I’ve been making since finding it in Gourmet several years ago (obviously–Gourmet’s demise is no longer a recent event).  I’ve even used it as a launching pad for other dishes but haven’t yet blogged it.  It’s time.

Butternut Squash Leek Galette (1 of 8)

What’s great about this recipe is that all of its component parts can be done in advance thus making it, with a bit of advance planning, a fast weeknight meal.  Or, even with no advance planning–the wait time is manageable even when you don’t start until 6pm (which is about when I am able to get going).  I made the dough and let it chill while I roasted the squash and sautéed the leeks.  (You could do any, or all, of these steps a day or two before).  The vegetables were removed from heat and allowed to cool just enough, after which I crumbled in a log of goat cheese with the tines of my fork.   The pastry dough was removed from the fridge, rolled out and filled.

Butternut-Leek-Galette

Edges folded over casually rather than fussily, and the pie was slid into the already warm oven.  I was enjoying a flaky, savory-sweet slice (followed by another) just an hour later.

Butternut-Squash-Leek-Galette-2

Butternut Squash Leek Galette

Ingredients
  • For pastry:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • Cream or half-and-half
  • For filling
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2- by 1/4-inch slices (4 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced crosswise
  • 6 ounces soft mild goat cheese, crumbled
Instructions
Make dough:
  1. Pulse flour, butter, sage, and sea salt in a food processor until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles cornmeal. With the motor running, drizzle in ice water and pulse until it just forms a ball. (The motor’s sound will change as this happens. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.) Gently press dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Make filling while dough chills:
  1. Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.
  2. Toss squash with sea salt and 1 Tbsp oil and arrange in 1 layer in a 17-by 12-inch shallow baking pan. Roast, stirring once halfway through roasting, until golden brown on edges and undersides, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove squash from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
  3. Meanwhile, wash leeks, then cook in the 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt over medium heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Try not to let the leeks brown, you just want them to soften). Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.
  4. Add squash, goat cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss gently.
Make galette:
  1. Lightly flour a surface and place the dough on top. Flip the dough over (so that both sides have a light dusting of flour) and roll out into a 13-inch round. Some ragged edges are fine. Transfer to a baking sheet (you can use the edge of the baking sheet to gently de-stick any dough from the surface and then slide it on.
  2. Arrange filling in an even layer in center of dough, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border. Fold dough in on itself to cover outer rim of filling, pleating dough as necessary.
  3. Brush pastry with cream (I just pour the cream into a shallow dish and dip my fingers in, then “fingerpaint”).
  4. Bake galette until crust is cooked through and golden on edges, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes before serving.
Notes

While [url href=”https://threecleversisters.com/2011/07/22/perfect-pie-crust-by-hand/”%5DI like making my crust by hand[/url], in this case I took the easy way out–in part because I figured the blades of the food processor would finely distribute flecks of sage throughout the dough more uniformly than if I tried to chop the herbs myself. Dried sage, on the other hand, being so fragile as it is, probably would crumble quickly and distribute itself easily, even by hand.

The dough can be chilled up to 1 day. The filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Sage Two Ways, and a Giveaway!

Some of the best savory dishes have just a touch of something sweet.  Maybe it’s just because I have an incorrigible sweet tooth, or maybe it’s because it’s just a little bit out of the ordinary.  And yet perhaps not so far out of the ordinary:  from honey mustard to meats braised with fruit to all the sweetness unearthed in a root vegetable, the line blurs a bit more than you’d expect.

Butternut Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter (3 of 6)

Recently Buitoni contacted us to try one of their new products, Roasted Butternut Squash Agnolotti (which is really just a pretty twist on ravioli–the pasta packet is made by folding a rectangle of dough in half to encase the filling, rather than ravioli where you sandwich it between two squares).  I recognized the inspiration for this pasta immediately:  the classic Italian combination of pasta with butternut squash, aged cheeses,  and amaretti–those intensely almondy, crumbly Italian cookies.  And I knew it instantly because it was a dish I unsuccesfully tried to chase down when my husband and I took our last big trip, B.C., to Florence Italy (B.C. as in, before children).  The server would shake his or her head, and inform me mi dispiace, but it wasn’t available that day.  Since I had chianina beef, wild boar stew, vin santo with cantucci wine, and freshly foraged mushrooms, I didn’t suffer too much.  Even so, I still recall my  thwarted attempts to incorporate cookies into my main meal.

Butternut Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter (1 of 6)

With an abundance of sage in my backyard herb garden, it only made sense to go grab a few handfuls to try with my agnolotti, and to try it a few different ways.

Butternut Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter (6 of 6)

One of the classic ways to enjoy this pasta dish is to dress it in a sage-brown butter sauce.  It’s remarkably simple to make but still feels elegant and just a bit fancy.  And who am I to argue with Italian culinary tradition (or carte blanche to use lots of brown butter?)  I’ve talked about brown butter before–it’s simply butter that you melt, and then keep cooking until it starts to caramelize.  It happens quickly, so you have to watch closely to make sure not to burn it, but it’s always easy for me to tell when it’s done:  a nutty aroma suddenly rises up from the pan and hits you, and you just know.  (In French, brown butter is called beurre noisette, in direct reference to that rich nuttiness).  It’s true kitchen alchemy (and terribly addictive).  And if you toss some sage leaves in the butter as you’re browning it, it’s the perfect companion to these agnolotti.

Butternut Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter (2 of 6)

Baked Butternut Ravioli (3 of 6)

As for the second take:  I’ve been making bechamel sauces a lot lately to make gratins with all those greens that come in my CSA box.  But like classic lasagna bolognese, or no less classic oven-baked macaroni and cheese, bechamel is an ideal base for baked pasta.  Bechamel is something that sounds a lot harder than it is–probably the apprehension of ending up with a lumpy, pasty mess.   Every time I add the milk to the butter-flour paste, I do have a moment of trepidation:  but with a little faith, and just a little vigorous whisking, it all blends together and suddenly it thickens.  I have a theory that bechamel is a more economic substitute for cream, although wikipedia provides a more refined pedigree.  In any case, it’s plenty rich enough on its own.

Baked Butternut Ravioli (1 of 6)

To make bechamel extra special, you need only steep some aromatics in your warm milk before proceeding.  So into my sauce went a few sprigs of sage.  I stirred the finished bechamel into my agnolotti, garnished them with a bit of pancetta, and slid them into the oven.  The pancetta and the ruffled edges of the pasta crisped up under the oven’s heat, a little bit of crunch against the creamy smooth sauce and the pureed squash.

Baked Butternut Ravioli (5 of 6)

I certainly would seek this agnolotti out in Florence again if the opportunity presented itself, but this can tide me over in the interim.

Now for the giveaway, and then on to the recipes:  If you want to try this yourself, Buitoni has generously provided us with a gift package to give away.  It will include an apron, kitchen towel, and medium-sized cutting board, and three coupons to use.  To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post before midnight EST on July 20, 2012.  The winner will be chosen at random.  For an extra chance to win, follow us on our Facebook page (and leave an additional comment telling us you have done so.  If you already follow us on facebook, leave an additional comment telling us–that counts too).  The winner will be chosen by a random number generator so be sure to leave a second comment about following us on facebook to get credit for your extra entry.  Good luck!  Note giveaway is only for US addresses only (as coupons are only redeemable in the US).

Full disclosure:  Buitoni kindly provided me with the agnolotti to try, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Note on availability:   The Buitoni agnolotti are currently only available in the Northeast–more specifically, NY, NJ, MA, VT, MD, NH, RI, and PA, but you may be able to find a substitute where you live.

Sage and Brown Butter Sauce

  • 4T butter
  • 8-10 (2 sprigs) sage, leaves plucked off
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 9-ounce package Buitoni butternut squash agnolotti (or other butternut squash filled pasta)
Set a large pot to a boil to make the pasta.  When it boils, cook it according to the package instructions (4-6 minutes).  Remove with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl.
When you add the pasta to the boiling water, it’s time to start your brown butter sauce.  Heat the butter in a small saucepan or small skillet over medium heat.  After the butter melts, add the sage leaves.  Continue to cook–the butter will bubble up as the water evaporates, then subside and will start to turn brown (you may even see little brown solids falling to the bottom of the pan).  When this happens, you’ll notice a nutty aroma.  Remove from the heat, and pour over the pasta (including the leaves).  Grate lemon zest on top, and serve immediately.

Baked Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Sage Bechamel

  • 1/2c milk
  • 1 sprig (5 leaves) sage
  • several gratings of fresh nutmeg (or a pinch of grated nutmeg)
  • 1T butter
  • 1 1/2t flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 9-ounce package Buitoni butternut squash agnolotti (or other butternut squash filled pasta)
  • 2 thinly sliced pieces of pancetta, chopped

Bring the milk almost to a boil (until little bubbles start to form along the circumference where the milk touches the pan).  Add the sage and grated nutmeg, and allow to steep for at least half an hour but preferably longer.  Remove the sage when ready to proceed.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 and start the hot water for your pasta.  Cook the pasta according to the package specifications (about 8-9 minutes).  Drain and set in a medium bowl.

Make the bechamel.  Cook the butter and flour together for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring.  Whisk in the milk little by little, blending the paste into the milk to form a sauce.  Keep cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.   (This only will take a few more minutes).  Whisk in the salt.  Stir into the pasta and then turn half of it into your baking dish.  Sprinkle with half your chopped pancetta.  Add the remainder of the pasta, then sprinkle with the rest of the pancetta.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes until the pancetta has crisped up and the edges of the pasta have taken on a nice brown crust.