Monday, February 23, 2009

Squash! That sounds like someone sat on dinner!

Classic line from George Carlin.

Normalcy last week was fleeting. No sooner had Rose gone back to school and Dinah had gone back to work, I got struck down with some kind of stomach bug. I emerged from that over the weekend only to get some kind of head cold. My voice isn't completely gone but it's the wrong pitch and timber and a little squeaky. But we are moving in the right direction.

Every now and then I like to push the envelope and make something I don't like. I think it helps hone the skills and once in a while you get lucky and discover something new you like. Plus, real chefs have to create dishes all of the time that they don't necessarily like. Last time it was a version of meat loaf. I didn't win on that one. This time it was butternut squash and I won.

As I mentioned before, my first issue of Gourmet magazine was Italian themed and I don't really care for Italian food. But I have found a few nuggets between the covers and one that intrigued me was Butternut Squash with Radicchio Pappardelle. I don't like squash but Dinah does. I need to expand my repertoire and include more vegetarian dishes. And I was caught by the ingredient radicchio.

Which I can't find anywhere! Dammit this can be frustrating. I researched substitutes and found chicory, escarole (which I needed for another recipe), Belgian endive and arugula are all possible substitutes. I can't find any of those either. Dammit. My choices are lettuce, cabbage, and spinach. I went with red cabbage. I should mention that I don't like cabbage either. So now I'm really pushing myself.

Can you believe it but this came out pretty tasty! The cabbage wasn't the best choice, not because of flavor but because I really didn't care for the cooked cabbage smell. But it wasn't bothersome enough to ruin the dish. The squash was nice and tender and just a tad sweet, somewhere between a sweet potato and pumpkin. You knew it was there but it wasn't overpowering and the texture was just right. The toasted pine nuts were great. As a general rule of thumb, I do not like nuts in my foods, except desserts. But the pine nuts were tender yet firm and had a wonderful smokey, spicy, salty flavor to them. I've never had pappardelle noodles before but boy were they good. If I couldn't find them I would substitute another egg noodle for that extra richness.

I served this tonight as a side dish. We called it salad but it would easily make a fitting main course. This is definitely something for whenever the need arises for a meatless dish.


Brook said...

OMG! I picked up D from the airport and after a brief unsuccesful stint at one restraunt we went to Carrabas where I had drumroll please...Papparadele Poulisenna. Basically italian pot roast on pasta. It was good but what makes it great is how yet again we are on the same page and YES! I have another idea on how to use up some butternut squash we were gifted with. Thank goodness it keeps so long. Glad to hear you are feeling better. And radicchio is so bitter I would try and change it out anyway.

Huff Daddy said...

I'm thinking arugula might be the substitute of choice. I'm going to keep looking.

Glad your man is home.