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.
Pumpkin, or any kind of squash, can be solar roasted ahead of time for use in soups, risottos, or even baked goods. Butternut, kabocha, or sugar pumpkin will all work in this recipe. To roast the squash simply cut it into pieces, remove and discard the seeds, put it in a lightly oiled baking pan, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook, uncovered in the Sun Oven until soft. Once cooked remove the skin and refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.
2 cups solar roasted squash or pumpkin
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, finely sliced
1 cup milk
This simple, tasty side dish could also be made with melted butter in place of the olive oil. I’ve even seen a similar recipe that used heavy cream. It goes well with turkey or pork. You can cut the squash up the night before and refrigerate it in a covered container if you want to get an early start and free up the Sun Oven for a main course to go with it.
Sun Roasted Parmesan Squash
1/2 of a butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
This yummy risotto makes a great quick lunch if you have any leftover cooked butternut on hand. If you don’t, start by solar roasting some. If you cook up a whole squash you’ll have more than you need for this recipe and you can freeze the leftovers for future use.
Solar Butternut Squash Risotto
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
This is a bit of a project. The onions need to cook for quite a long time, but, as with most solar cooking, you’ll be able to go about you business while they simmer away. If pie pumpkins aren’t available, use butternut squash, it works just as well. It can also be used as a filling for a savory pie. The pumpkin onion mixture is also good on it’s own.
Savory Solar Pumpkin Pudding
(adapted from “Savory Roasted Pumpkin Pie” New York Times Nov. 4 2008)
2 small pie pumpkins or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds discarded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
I have a love hate relationship with butternut squash. It’s one of my favorite vegetables but I hate peeling it and the expensive precut stuff doesn’t taste as good. So you can imagine how pleased I was to stumble upon this super simple preparation method over at epicurious.com. The squash is cut in half lengthwise and seeded. Leave the skin on (yay!), cut into squares, score the flesh. Rub all over with olive oil.
Set the pieces, skin side down, in a lidded roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and roast in the Global Sun Oven until tender. Serve hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.
Any left over squash can be easily scraped off the skin and used in risottos or soups.
And to top things off I toasted the seeds, seasoned with kosher salt, while the squash was cooking.