Sunday, 16 November 2014

Squash Smorgasbord

Many cooks don't realize the versatility of one of the omnipresent vegetables of the autumn and early winter farmer's market, the squash.  Over the next few days we'll be showcasing a smorgasbord of squash recipes from soup to salad, to dessert.  There's even a squash recipe that would appeal to the palate of the family pooch.

Soup Featuring Pattypan Squash

Patty Pan Squash and Pesto Soup for four to six 
For the soup:

– 2 shallots
– 1 pattypan squash, about 23 cm (9″) in diameter
– 1 liter (1 quart) chicken or vegetable stock, homemade if you have it
salt, pepper
olive oil
For the pesto:
– 50 grams (about 2 1/2 cups) basil leaves
– 50 grams (1 3/4 ounces) ricotta salata (or parmesan, or pecorino)
– 25 grams (3/4 ounce) pine nuts, toasted
salt, pepper
olive oil

Peel and mince the shallots. Remove the stem end and bottom button of the pattypan squash (no need to peel it). Quarter it, and cut it in chunks then slices. Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

In a medium pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add the shallots and a sprinkle of salt, and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until softened, stirring regularly to avoid coloring.

Add the pattypan squash, sprinkle with salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the simmering stock, plus any boiling water necessary to completely cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the squash is very soft.

While the soup is simmering, prepare the pesto. In a blender or food processor (you can also work by hand in a mortar if you prefer), combine the basil, cheese and pine nuts. Add a good pinch of salt, some pepper, and a generous drizzle of olive oil, and pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if necessary for the pesto to come together.

Remove the soup from the heat, put on an apron, and whizz the soup with a stick blender (or in batches in a regular blender) until completely smooth.

Serve hot, but not too hot, sprinkled with freshly ground pepper, with pesto on the side for each diner to add a spoonful to his bowl.

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