Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Well, it is now officially autumn. Weather-wise, it came early this year up here in northeast Ohio; the trees are already turning, which usually doesn’t really begin to ramp up until the second week of October in this neck of the woods, and my winter wardrobe’s migration towards the front of our closet is also a bit premature.  It’s the last week of the season for our CSA and Beloved has begun clearing out our own gardens, as well.

I don’t think we’ll be buying as many apples this year, as we still have plenty of applesauce from last year, but I’m really looking forward to some apple-based dishes, both sweet and savory, and I’m going to try and make some apple cider jelly.

We’ve decided not to do a CSA share next year, but rather get our summer produce from our own gardens and supplement with purchases from local farmer’s markets.  There’s only so much we can consume, even with Darling Daughter back home and The Young One here for the summer and holidays, and some of what we grew ourselves simply went unharvested – mostly leafy greens – because we just couldn’t eat it all.

Winter squashes are in full swing about now, and my obsession with cooking and stuffing them continues unabated.  Last week, it was Mexican-inspired stuffed spaghetti squash; this week, it’s a Moroccan-flavored lamb and quinoa mixture heaped inside roasted acorn squash.

Acorn squash isn’t my favorite – that spot is reserved for butternuts and kabochas – but we had two we’d acquired through our CSA share and I decided, since they were sitting there on the counter, just staring me in the face, that I probably should do something with them.  I wasn’t in the mood for soup (that happened last night with our lone sweet dumpling squash), but another stuffed squash sure sounded like a good idea.  It wasn’t long before I was pulling the last pound of ground lamb from our freezer and the bag of sprouted quinoa from the pantry.

It turns out it was an excellent idea – this was just delicious (frankly, I’d have been happy eating just the filling; it was that good).  Darling Daughter and I shared one half between the two of us, while Beloved inhaled an entire half all on his own.  This is also one of those dishes that is even better the next day, and it reheats beautifully.

Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash. Liven up that ordinary roasted acorn squash with lamb, quinoa and curry powder.

Click the image to enlarge

Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup raisins, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut the squashes in half, lengthwise, and scoop the seeds from the center. Rub each half with the olive oil; place cut side down on a shallow, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.
  3. While the squash is in the oven, cook the lamb in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks with a large wooden spoon. Once it has barely begun to brown, add the onion and continue cooking until most of the fat has rendered from the meat and the onion has softened. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and salt and pepper and cook until the meat is cooked through and the mixture is fragrant.
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the heat and stir in the pistachios, raisins and quinoa, mixing well. Set aside.
  5. When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Turn it over so that the cut sides are facing up and spoon the lamb/quinoa mixture into the centers, packing it in as necessary, until all of the filling has all been used.
  6. Reduce the heat to 350 F and return the stuffed squash halves to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully cut each in half lengthwise before serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 396 calories, 21.5g total fat, 41.4mg cholesterol, 512.4mg sodium, 833.2mg potassium, 39.6g carbohydrates, 5.1g fiber, 11.7g sugar, 14.8g protein

Ginger-Peach Crisp

Well, another crazy weekend came and went.

Oh, who am I kidding?  My whole life is crazy, and it’s not going to be any less crazy until about November.  If I’m lucky.

At any rate, my Young Diabetic Friend accompanied us on our rounds this Saturday to pick up our eggs and CSA share.  We also visited a couple of (tiny but good) farmer’s markets, as well as our friends at Whitefeather Meats where I bought the most incredible bison short ribs; they promptly became dinner.

Because no matter how often I post recipes like this, I’m always going to looooooooove my pastured/grass-fed/ethically raised meats – especially the odd bits.

At any rate, we spent the day canning 16 pints of green beans and slicing and vacuum-sealing about 2 pounds of fresh okra for the Young Diabetic Friend, as well as milling another half-bushel of paste tomatoes that we canned Sunday.  I also picked up a 1/2 peck of what is probably the last of the fresh peaches we’ll see this summer when we swung by Geig’s Orchard to get some of their incomparable, freshly pressed apple cider.

About half the peaches, which were on the small side, went into this wonderful dish that I made to go with our Sunday brunch.  Fresh peaches compete with cherries for the title of Jan’s Favorite Fruit, but if you put me in a headlock and made me choose, I’d probably pick the peaches.  I adore them, which is why I have at least 1/2 a peck sliced and vacuum sealed in my garage freezer.  I also love to cook with them – just search for “peaches” on this site, and you’ll see – and that includes the occasional dessert.

Of which this one is a doozy.  Oh. Muh. GAWD…it will certainly justify the purchase of both the candied ginger and the ground cardamom if you don’t already have some.  The servings are not large, but this is one of those desserts you want to eat slowly and reverently, savoring every bite.

Ginger-Peach Crisp. Combining peaches with candied ginger makes for a delicious - and slightly exotic - dessert.

Click the image to enlarge

Ginger-Peach Crisp
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 lbs ripe peaches (about 6 to 8), peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • Crumb Topping
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the peaches and sugar. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the peaches in a colander set over another bowl to collect the juices. Return the peaches to the original bowl and toss with the cornstarch, salt and candied ginger.
  3. While the peaches are macerating, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and ground coriander in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife or two forks until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  4. Transfer the juices from the drained peaches to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook, swirling gently from time to time but not stirring, until the liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir into the peach mixture.
  5. Pour the peaches into an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish; sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit, covering it as completely as possible.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden and crisp. Allow to cool to almost room temperature before serving.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 287 calories, 9.1g total fat, 20.4mg cholesterol, 37.8mg sodium, 408mg potassium, 51g carbohydrates, 4.2g fiber, 34.2g sugar, 3.9g protein

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

Father’s Day this year was nice for Beloved, I’m happy to report.  Jolly took him out for dinner the night before; I made him Crab Cake Benedict (served over sauteed Swiss chard and caramelized onions) for brunch and some lovely chicken livers sauteed with white wine, onion and capers over a traditional risotto for dinner.  He got to take a nap and putter in the garden and we gave him a couple of cute gifts, both useful and funny.

He enjoyed himself, which is the goal of any good Father’s Day.

I also made him this.  The man is a strawberry-rhubarb fanatic, and since our rhubarb is gorgeous this year and we had two quarts of fresh strawberries in the fridge, why not make him a strawberry-rhubarb dessert as a Father’s Day treat?  And because cobbler is easier than pie, as well as every bit as tasty, well…there you go.

Now, this is not paleo (like cobbler could ever be truly paleo); in fact, it’s not even gluten-free.  (You can make it gluten-free and more paleo friendly by using the topping recipe here, if you like).  What it is is freaking delicious, and if I’m going to make the light of my life one of his favorite desserts for Father’s Day, I refuse to feel the least bit guilty about it.  All of the ingredients, including the AP flour and granulated sugar, were certified organic, and the fruit was locally grown – you can’t get more “local” than your own back yard.

So there.

The addition of the crystallized ginger in the topping was just wonderful, and the topping itself was tender and fluffy and simply delicious.  I’m going to throw caution to the wind and make a cobbler with this topping again when peaches are in season later this summer.  It’ll be awesome.

*smiles and thumbs nose*

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler. Crystallized ginger really elevates the topping of this marvelous springtime dessert.

Click the image to enlarge

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
Serves: 6
[i]To make this gluten-free and more paleo-friendly, [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/grain-free-peach-cobbler/” target=”_blank”]use the topping recipe here[/url].[/i]
Ingredients
  • [i]For the filling:[/i]
  • 2 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
  • 2 1/2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice [i][b]or[/b][/i] granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour [i][b]or[/b][/i] corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • [i]For the crust:[/i]
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice [i][b]or[/b][/i] granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca or corn starch, and lemon zest. Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes to macerate.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Using the tines of a fork, cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk, egg, and crystallized ginger just until moistened. Do not over mix.
  4. Pour strawberries and rhubarb into a 2-quart casserole dish; drop the cobbler batter by heaping tablespoonfuls on top of the fruit. Sprinkle a little extra sugar over the cobbler topping, if desired.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cobbler crust is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling. Serve warm; top with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 304 calories, 9.3g total fat, 52.4mg cholesterol, 189.4mg sodium, 252.4mg potassium, 52.4g carbohydrates, 2.5g fiber, 24.6g sugar, 4.4g protein

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce

As foretold yesterday, I have a scallop/Meyer lemon recipe today. Huzzah!

You know, all those people who unsubscribed because I’m “no longer relevant,” what with my lentils and quinoa and photos of crocus, are going to be disappointed that they missed this one.  It may not be Whole30 compliant, but it’s pretty straight-forward paleo/primal, and it’s absotively-effing delicious.  To say nothing of quick and drop-dead simple.

Oh, well.  Their loss.

Anyhoo, Meyer lemons.  I’d heard of them, but had never actually seen one until last week when I chanced upon a small bag of them at the local supermarket.  I eagerly bought it and left it on the counter while Beloved and I traipsed down to southern Ohio for an extended weekend of dominoes, hot tubs and other middle-aged fun and games (ahem).

I thought the Meyers, which are believed to be a hybrid of standard lemons and mandarin oranges, giving them a deep yellow color and sweeter, more floral flavor than your average, run-of-the-mill lemon, would be fine.  After all, I buy citrus all the time in season and it all does quite well sitting on the counter for several days.

Meyer lemons, not so much, unfortunately – all but one of them were beginning to rot when we returned on Monday.  Disappointed, visions of Meyer lemon goodies in the form of pies and pound cake quickly banished, I salvaged the one good fruit and began to wonder what I could do with it.

Once I’d remembered the scallops, it was easy.

Our butchers, Whitefeather Meats, have recently found a good source of wild, sustainably caught seafood, and last week we were pleased to see scallops in the seafood case.  They’re my absolutely favorite shellfish, so we bought them eagerly and when faced with no leftovers for lunch yesterday I decided it was time to consume them – pan-seared, they take all of about 8 minutes.  Coming up with the sauce took little time, and served with leftover Roasted Root Vegetable Hash, we were eating lunch in the comfort of our home 15 minutes later.

Let me just say, the Meyer lemon pan sauce is outstanding – I was literally licking it out of the pan as I cleaned up afterward.  It would be great on shrimp as well as chicken, so if you don’t do shellfish you can still make it and it will still be outstanding.

No Meyer lemons?  No problem – this would work well with your regular, garden-variety lemons, although you might want to increase the amount of honey and/or butter slightly, to keep it from being too acidic (which is the whole point of the honey and butter in the first place).

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce.  So simple and easy, but impressive enough for company!

Click the image to enlarge

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • the juice and grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry; sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter begins to foam.
  3. Place the scallops in the skillet and cook until lightly browned but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate; cover and keep warm.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the liquid in the pan until it becomes a light golden color, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, scraping up any brown bits, then the zest, rosemary and honey. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce is reduced and almost syrupy (this should take less than a minute). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.
  5. Plate the scallops and drizzle with the Meyer lemon sauce. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 211 calories, 13.2g total fat, 42.5mg cholesterol, 446.6mg sodium, 279mg potassium, 11g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 14.1g protein

Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apples

Before I get into how I’m not torturing poverty-stricken Bolivian farmers by eating quinoa, let’s talk a little bit about why I’m eating it after more than 3 years of largely avoiding grains.

Aside from the fact that it’s freaking delicious, reasonably nutritious when properly prepared and not really a grain.

Grains are the seeds from grasses; quinoa is the seed from a broadleaf plant that is closely related to spinach and beets.  This makes it what is called a pseudograin – it looks like a grain and cooks like a grain but botanically isn’t a grain.  Which is all fine and dandy, but it still contains all those awful lectins and phytates plus an added bonus of saponins – a bitter-tasting coating on the outside of the seed that makes for one nasty meal if not completely rinsed away.

Most commercially available quinoas (which, like lentils, come in a variety of colors) are pre-rinsed, but you should always rinse them again before cooking just to make sure.  And, like most grains, you’ll get a lot more out of them if you soak or sprout it beforehand.  Quinoa sprouts pretty easily – unlike most grains and legumes, soaking it in warm, filtered water for as little as 12 hours will cause it to sprout, which also reduces the cooking time by as much as 1/3.

Unfortunately, quinoa has gotten a bad rap lately.  It’s traditionally grown in South America and has been a dietary staple there for thousands of years.  Its growing popularity worldwide in recent years has caused concerns about the sustainability of the crops there, as well as diminishing quinoa’s status as a staple – it’s far more profitable for farmers to sell than consume.  Now, having said that, some varieties are pretty hardy and can be grown in other climates – there is widespread farming of quinoa in Europe, the US and Canada.  The quinoa I purchase comes from the bulk bins at our local natural food store (making it cheaper than the packaged stuff) and is grown in Canada.

Beloved and I also love the stuff, which is the main reason we’re eating it.  But after 3 years of forcing foods that aren’t rice or pasta or wheat or whatever isn’t “allowed” in a paleo diet into behaving like foods that are rice or pasta or wheat or whatever, I started to wonder why I don’t just go ahead and eat them from time to time?  Muffins, cakes, breads, ice creams, cookies, candies and all those other delicious treats that people work so hard to recreate – yes, myself included – really shouldn’t be eaten every day no matter what they’re made from (the one exception being “noodles” made from vegetables.  But it still isn’t the same).  I still make all of these things from scratch from the best quality ingredients I can find, I still don’t eat industrial seed oils or prepackaged crap and we still don’t eat out nearly as often as the average American.  If I eat something and it makes me feel bad or sick, I don’t eat it again and so far, a slice of sourdough bread and a serving of quinoa, beans or soaked brown rice a couple of times a week, homemade pasta once or twice a month and a dessert once in a blue moon isn’t killing me.  In fact, I’m feeling pretty okay these days, and after the menopausal hell of the last 5 years or so, that’s not a bad thing.  Not bad at all.

Anyhoo – quinoa. My favorite way to prepare it is in homemade chicken broth with diced onion and garlic that’s been sauteed in ghee – it is just delicious.

This salad was made with leftover quinoa cooked in just that manner, as well as some leftover salmon that I’d attempted to prepare (at too high a temperature – oops) in the sous vide.  It may not have been the best entree I’ve ever cooked, but chilled and flaked into this salad the salmon was great.  Throw in a little diced apple, finely chopped herbs, a light vinaigrette and some salad greens, and this was a marvelous light lunch – just what my body has been craving after this absurdly long, harsh winter.

Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apple - quick, simple and incredibly good for you.

Click the image to enlarge

Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apples
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 ounces cooked salmon, flaked
  • 1 small apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 4 cups salad greens
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the vinegar, honey and olive oil in a small bowl until well-blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, salmon, apple, mint and parsley. Drizzle with the dressing and toss again until evenly coated. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  3. Divide the greens between two plates and top with the quinoa salad.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 393 calories, 20.2g total fat, 40.3mg cholesterol, 51.4mg sodium, 791.2mg potassium, 34.2g carbohydrates, 5.3g fiber, 9.6g sugar, 20g protein