Week of: February 10, 2014
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A Colorful Valentine’s Day Dinner
By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research
Recently, a dish that made my heart beat faster was a stacked column of colorful winter squash slices topped with sautéed greens and a savory curl of Parmigiano cheese. It was so beautiful and lovingly assembled that I decided to recreate it myself on Valentine's Day.
Served at the James Beard Foundation Food Conference about sustainability and promoting local agriculture, it was both dramatic and delicious. Happily, the chef at the Convene Conference Center who created it shared his recipe. Like many chefs’ dishes, this one requires patience to prepare, but the steps are simple. Once you cut slices of the same size from butternut, Delicata and yellow squashes, and a sweet potato (a.k.a., Jewel or Garnet yam), lots of lovely orange vegetables will be left. Tossed into a pot with vegetable broth, a leek, an onion and an apple, they make a delicious soup.
Called a Winter Squash Napoleon on the conference menu, this was presented as a vegetarian main course. I would scatter some sautéed mushrooms around it – chunky-cut creminis sautéed in olive oil – to complete the plate. For meat-eaters, the indulgence of pan-seared filet mignon or a juicy lamb chop would be perfect with this squash stack.
To start this dinner, a light salad of whole endive leaves, long watercress sprigs, baby arugula and baby spinach is perfect. Dress it with a light vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle on shelled pistachios.
For a romantic finish, serve big, long-stem strawberries and melted dark chocolate. Dip and share…you get the picture!
Roasted Squash Stack with Greens
- 1 large Jewel or Garnet yam
- 1 large yellow summer squash
- 1 medium Delicata squash *
- 1 butternut squash with long neck
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 3 large leaves Swiss chard, stems removed, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 (10 oz.) bag fresh spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 1 chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for shaving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover baking sheet with baking parchment.
Cut four 3/4-inch slices from widest part of yam and yellow squash and from middle of Delicata squash. Cut 8 slices from neck of butternut squash, or 12 slices if you do not have Delicata squash.
Using swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, remove peel from yam, butternut and Delicata squashes. If some slices are larger than others, keep peeling until all slices are same size rounds. With teaspoon, scoop seed from Delicata slices, making rings. In mixing bowl, gently toss all slices with 1 tablespoon oil, using fingers to completely coat all sides.
Arrange sliced vegetables on prepared pan, leaving 1-inch between slices. Season slices lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Set roasted vegetables aside.
While vegetables roast, in medium skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté just until fragrant, 1 minute. Add chard and cook, stirring, until it collapses. Add spinach. Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon water and cook until greens are just tender, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Set cooked greens aside until cool enough to handle. Squeeze most of moisture from greens. There should be about 1 cup cooked greens.
Place a slice of butternut squash on a plate. Top it with a slice of yellow squash, then Delicata squash, then yam. Add a mound of greens, using about one-fourth. Top with a butternut squash slice, tilting it like a hat. Repeat to make three more stacks. Using vegetable peeler, shave a fat curl from chunk of cheese and set it on top of stack. Repeat, adding cheese curl to remaining stacks. Serve immediately.
* Substitute butternut squash if Delicata is not available.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 185 calories, 9 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 23 g carbohydrate,
6 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 228 mg sodium.
Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $100 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.
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