To market to market to buy a fat … squash?

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  Julia Child.

LOVE Julia Child – her cooking, her attitude and the fact that she never stopped learning. Admittedly she’d probably be rather appalled by my vegan dishes (though hopefully her critique wouldn’t be as harsh as Anthony Bourdain’s would be – he once said “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.” – ouch!).

I was reminded of Julia’s quote about fearlessness today as I shopped our local farmer’s market. It’s beautiful – not huge but the farm stalls have a fantastic array & I can pretty much get all the fruit & veggies we need for the week. But it can be a little daunting. The produce is fresh but unwaxed, and even at times a little misshapen. It’s a far cry from the polished beauty of, say, Whole Foods. I’m also usually confronted by varieties of a fruit or vegetable that I never even knew existed. Today I found zucchini that were yellow at the top and pale green at the bottom, seven different types of radish I’d never seen before and bell peppers in hues from deep purple to pale yellow.

So much choice. And if you do buy it, what would you ever cook with it?

Market angst.

But my curiosity got the better of me and I had a wonderful shop – ‘tiny finger’ Asian eggplants that are bright purple and white, Barq squash that are like a stubby pale green zucchini, and oversized heirloom purple cherry tomatoes were just a few of the finds I brought home with me.

So now to cook. I had an hour to pull things together before the kids got home & decided that roasting and baking would be the easiest way to go (because – if I ran out of time & had to go pick up the kids – I could turn the oven off before I left & things would still slowly cook in the warm oven… I know, I know it’s sacrilege, Julia would be turning in her grave).

But I digress. After more dithering I finally settled on making roasted butternut squash soup and a ‘zucchini’, eggplant and tomato gratin.

To make the soup I used:

1 butternut squash, halved

1 Apple, halved

1 red onion, quarters

3 cloves garlic, skin on

1/2 tbsp canola oil

2 cups vegetable stock

To make the gratin I used:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock

3 barq squash, sliced

15 or so finger eggplants, sliced

2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced 

1/2 tblsp canola oil 

2 cups strained tomatoes

1 cup panko breadcrumbs 

2 tsp dried parsley

For the soup I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F and placed the butternut squash cut side down on a parchment lined baking tray. I then roasted the squash for 40 minutes. At that stage I added the apples, onion and garlic to the tray and baked it for a further 20 minutes.

Once the veggies were tender I placed them all in the blender (don’t forget to skin the garlic, core the apples and deseed / skin the squash!), added the stock and blended until smooth.

For the gratin I rinsed the quinoa and brought it to the boil with the stock. Once it was bubbling I covered the saucepan, reduced the heat to low and cooked it for a further 15 minutes.

For the vegetables I lined a separate tray and placed the barq squash, eggplant and onion on it. After coating those veggies in canola oil I roasted them for 20 minutes. 

When the quinoa and veggies were done I layered them in a baking dish, added the tomatoes on top and stirred through the strained tomatoes. 

Finally it was a case of combining the breadcrumbs with the parsley and sprinkling them across the dish. I then wrapped the gratin in aluminum foil and baked it for a further 20 minutes.

All done within the hour (essentially – I did have to turn off the oven when I took the kids to tennis but it was in the final five minutes … so fortunately everything had cooked through beautifully & the sitting time just allow the flavors to steep through the dish).

Market angst conquered. But I’m still not sure Julia would approve 😉.

#vegan #kidfriendlyvegan #mindfuleating #wholefood #farmersmarket #soup #gratin #JuliaChild #AnthonyBourdain

One thought on “To market to market to buy a fat … squash?

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