As the days get longer solar cooking becomes a whole lot easier.
Even on a busy day, like mine was today, you’re more likely to get at least part of your evening meal into the Sun Oven before it’s too late.
It was mid afternoon by the time I got some acorn squash going, but there was still plenty of time to roast it to perfection. To keep it simple, I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and seasoned it with some olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt.
Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar just before serving for a splash of color and extra flavor.
Butternut squash and sage go together splendidly, and this simple, satisfying soup is perfect for this time of year. The squash can be roasted early in the day when sunshine is abundant while the rest can be done stovetop later in the day after sunset.
Sun Oven Butternut Squash Soup with Sage
1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh sage leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
3 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Set Sun Oven out to preheat.
Coat two baking pans with cooking spray.
Arrange the squash in single layers in the pans and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle kosher salt over squash. Cross stack the pans in the Sun Oven and cook until the squash is just soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from Sun Oven and cut into chunks.
While the squash is cooking heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and leak and cook, strirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and continue cooking for another minute. Add the roasted squash to the pot with the broth. Return the pot to the Sun Oven and cook until the squash is very soft, about 1 hour.
Remove the sage leaves (if using fresh) and discard. Using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings
Most Sun Oven cooking is done in a covered pot. This is to keep the moisture in the food from fogging up the glass door which lowers the temperature of the cooking chamber. But I’ve found that some faster cooking foods, such as vegetables, come out better if left uncovered. Even without a lid they tend to be done by the time the glass fogs up and since the steam isn’t trapped in the pot they come out a little crispier.
Today I put it to the test with two batches of asparagus and acorn squash. There wasn’t any noticeable difference between the covered squash and the uncovered, but the uncovered asparagus came out slightly browned and with a pleasant crunch to it and the covered batch did not.
Covered or uncovered, it’s a good idea to set a timer when solar cooking spring vegetables, unlike meats and stews that seem to get better the longer they cook in the Sun Oven, delicate greens can overcook and get soggy.
This African inspired soup can be made with fresh squash and onions, and dry beans that have been soaked overnight. Using frozen, precut vegetables makes it super easy to toss in the Sun Oven on those days that turn unexpectedly sunny. For a heartier meal serve over brown rice.
Sun Oven African Squash and Lima Bean Soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups vegetable broth
1 (20-ounce) bag frozen butternut squash
1/2 (1 pound bag) frozen small onions
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen baby lima beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Set Global Sun Oven out to preheat.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, and red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, squash, onions, lima beans, tomatoes, and salt. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.
This sweet and savory side goes well with porcini risotto, pork, or poultry. You can use any kind of winter squash, butternut is the easiest to peel.
Sun Oven Maple-Glazed Squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon
2 slices bacon
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, washed well and finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 bay leaf
3 cups butternut squash cut into 1-inch pieces
Sometimes the best meals are made up on the spur of the moment. A couple of nights ago when we had the pasta with beet sauce from a previous post I made a little too much sauce.
This morning I used the excess sauce mixed with some goat cheese and ancini di pepe pasta to stuff an acorn squash and wound up with one of the most satisfying lunches I’ve had in a while. I’m guessing on the quantities, next time I make it I’ll pay more attention, but I’d say it was about half a cup of sauce, 2 ounces of goat cheese, and one and a half tablespoons of pasta (couscous would probably work too). Just cut the top off the squash, remove the seeds and strings, rub the inside with olive oil and season with salt, stuff it with the beet mixture, put the top back on, set the squash in a baking pan and cook it in the Sun Oven until tender.
It makes a more than generous lunch for one.
Even with my limited baking experience, I still manage to have more successes than failures. These two loaves of pumpkin bread came out prefect. As always, I used my bread machine to make the dough. I wouldn’t even know how to tell you how to make it by hand, I’m sure the real bakers out there will be able to apply their skill.
The pumpkin and the cornmeal give this bread a gorgeous orange hue and moist light texture.
Solar Pumpkin Bread
1 cup cooked pumpkin or other winter squash
2/3 cup buttermilk*
2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 cups white bread flour
1 scant cup cornmeal
Ever since I’ve been sending Mark off with a packed lunch I’ve fallen into the bad habit of not thinking about my own lunch until I’m so hungry I just raid the refrigerator. So I picked up this gold nugget squash because I liked the one-serving size and the color; and because they didn’t have any baking pumpkins. I’d never heard of this particular variety but I’ll be heading back to the store for more. It’s perfect for stuffing with what ever you may have on hand and if you get it in the Sun Oven as soon as the sun’s out it will be ready in time for lunch. It’s skin is very tough, which makes it difficult to cut the top off but it’s worth the effort because, unlike other varieties, it retains its form when the flesh is cooked and becomes a natural, disposable serving bowl.
Today I filled mine with tomatoes, goat cheese, garlic, fresh basil, and ancini di pepe (a type of pasta). It was a fun, tasty, and filling lunch and couldn’t have been easier to prepare. Just cut a thin piece off the bottom of the squash so it will stand upright, cut the top off, scoop out the seeds and strings, rub the inside with oil and season with salt, toss the fill ingredients together and stuff them into the squash. Put the top back on, place the squash on a baking pan and cook it in the Sun Oven until the flesh is soft. By using whatever’s on hand you could have a different lunch every day.