Thursday, October 14, 2010

Veggie Might: Savory Squash Pie - Road Trip Inspirado

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism. Also, a quick reminder: All entries for the Re-Name the Husband-Elect Contest are due by 6pm today. You could win a cookbook!

This time last year, I took an unexpected swim in Lake George and hung out with some Vermont syrup tappers made of pantyhose. As one who will stop for anything that catches my eye along the roadside, weird and kitschy New England-in-the-fall excursions seem to becoming a tradition and rife with inspirado.

A couple of weekends ago CB and I visited his parents in the great state of New Hampshire, where we lived free and ate garden-fresh vegetables (rather than the alternative). On the way back through Massachusetts, we strolled through a pumpkin spice-hyacinth-clean laundry-mountain spruce-cookie-scented, fake-snowy Bavarian Christmas village with a country crafts food court and animatronic bluegrass band.

We also bought enough squash for me to start my own roadside stand.

I can get squash in New York. But there they were, all orange and green and yellow, beckoning me from the side of the road. Since we had a car, for once I was able to buy more than I could carry. So I scooped up two sugar pumpkins for pie, two butternut squashes for soup, a Long Island cheese squash, and a buttercup squash—the latter two because they were new to me and pretty.

And they were cheeeeeap. For six squashes, I spent a grand total of $7. The farmer at my local market has reasonable prices compared to most in the area, but yay!

It took me a whole day to bake, puree, and freeze my bounty, and now I’m ready for whatever new-and-exciting squash recipes come my way. And snacking on roasted squash seeds. Scanning the InterWebs for inspirado, only a few clicks through the blog reader unearthed the perfect recipe to kick off Squash Season: Savory Kabocha Pie from The Kitchn.

Practice my pie crust technique on a savory squash and tofu pie that would be amazing for brunch or a light lunch? Okay, whoever is reading my thoughts: Swiss bank account, cottage on the Isle of Skye, lifetime supply of handspun alpaca.

From my roadside bounty, I chose the buttercup squash. It was recommended as a substitute for kabocha; weighing in at just over 2 lbs, it was the right size, and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Buttercup squash is a small, squat, dark green squash looks very similar to a kabocha. The sweet flesh is ideal for a variety of recipes and is interchangeable with its butternut and kabocha cousins.

In the pie at hand, the buttercup squash combines flawlessly with the tofu to make a rich and creamy filling without being heavy; and the sweetness is nicely balanced with the savory garlic and onions. Rosemary has an almost woodsy scent, and makes a lovely addition, though take care not to overdo it. Too much makes the filling bitter. Sage or thyme would be equally delicious.

You can use any crust you like, but I branched out and made the whole-wheat crust recommended in the recipe. It was hearty and dense but tender and flaky, standing up to the earthy flavors of the filling more than would a simple white flour crust. Give it a try; it’s worth the effort.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you might make two crusts at once and freeze one for later. A frozen pie crust will keep for several months, and give you a head start on your holiday baking—or make this dish that much easier when you want to make another immediately, which I assure you, you will. I did (with a butternut: equally amazing).

Next time I hit the road (soon), I’ll be looking for more food I’ve never tried and flannel-wearing robots that sing and play the banjo. Let me know if you have a line on any.


If this article tickled your fancy, sidle on over to:

Savory Buttercup Squash Pie
Serves 8.
Adapted from Savory Kabocha Pie from The Kitchn (crust adapted from Brother Ron Pickarski's Friendly Foods).

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4-1/3 cup ice water

2 lb buttercup squash, seeded, baked, and mashed
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz silken tofu, mashed
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tbsp arrowroot powder dissolved in 1 tbsp water

For the Crust
1) Mix whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, and salt in a small bowl. Pour olive oil in a separate bowl. Place both bowls in freezer for at least 1 hour.

2) In a food processor or with a pastry cutter, combine flour and hardened oil until it forms a coarse meal. Leave a few pea-sized pieces of hardened oil for a flakier crust. Drizzle the water to the flour mixture, using only enough to form a dough. Take care not to overwork the dough, or it will become tough.

3) Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into 1/16"-thick circle. Carefully place dough in a 9" pie pan. Trim and crimp edges as desired. Place crust in refrigerator until you are ready to fill.

For the Filling
1) Preheat oven to 350º F.

2) Slice squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place sliced side down on greased baking sheet and roast in oven for 15-25 minutes until a fork easily pierces the skin. Allow to cool, then scoop out flesh, mash, and set aside. Leave oven on at 350º F.

3) In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic about 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in squash, tofu, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook until warm. Dissolve arrowroot in water and stir into mixture to thicken filling.

4) Pour the filling into pie crust and bake for 30 minutes.

5) Serve warm with salad or soup for brunch or lunch. Keep a back up for yourself.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Protein per Serving
222.5 calories, 9.3g fat, 9.2g fiber, 14.3g protein, $.43

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour: 440 calories, 20g fat, 16g fiber, 12g protein, $0.64
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour: 227.5 calories, 0.5g fat, 1.5g fiber, 6.5g protein, $0.10
2 tbsp olive oil: 240 calories, 28g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.16
1/4 tsp: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
2 lb buttercup squash: 416 calories, 0g fat, 32g fiber, 0g protein, $1.00
1/2 tbsp olive oil: 60 calories, 7g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.04
1 small onion: 10 calories, 0.05g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.12
3 cloves garlic: 12 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.04
12 ounces firm tofu: 375 calories, 19g fat, 24g fiber, 96g protein, $1.20
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.04
1 1/2 tsp salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
Freshly ground pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
2 tbsp arrowroot powder: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
TOTALS: 1780.5 calories, 74.5g fat, 73.5g fiber, 114.5g protein $3.40
PER SERVING (TOTALS/8): 222.5 calories, 9.3g fat, 9.2g fiber, 14.3g protein, $.43

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