Where are we going with this weather? It’s hot. It’s cold. It’s frigid. There are crocuses. Croci? I tested this recipe a mere week ago and the winds were howling at 65mph+++. I thought my house was going to slide down the dune. My pot rack was rocking. After finding a flashlight – because I just KNEW my power would go out – I started grabbing cans of beans, tomatoes, paste, etc. and this lonely butternut squash. I figured I could survive quasi-indefinitely with a “walk-out” (refrigerator) and a gas stove. When I ultimately tucked in by the fire, I had supreme satisfaction – I beat the power outage and this chili was damn delicious! Plus there was plenty left to freeze for those nights when you know you will get in super late and you just want something to eat in a jiff. Pull it out in the morning and thaw all day in the fridge.
You could make squash chili with any squash – I had a butternut on hand – but Hubbard, acorn, Kabocha, pumpkin or other winter squashes will work well, too. I like butternut because it’s more bang for the buck in the peeling-effort-to-flesh ratio. It has a smaller cavity so that you don’t loose a lot to seeds and air. You get the yield you need with only one medium butternut. At about 2 1/2 pounds, I got 7 cups of diced squash.
I took my time with the onions browning. Since there is no meat, I wanted to caramelize the onions to help with the depth and layers of flavor. You could also roast the squash to bring out even more caramelization, but I was racing the power supply and didn’t want to be beholden to an electric oven. There are also some bonus points for going one-pot, right?
In addition to browning the onion, I always toast the spices for this kind of dish. If you don’t, you miss a big opportunity to add flavor. Stirring raw spices into liquid does not give the same depth of flavor as when you take a moment to toast them. For whole spices, I toast, then grind. Today I am using ground spices, so I just add them to the hot pan once the onions are browned, and let them cook for about a minute or two. You want to have your liquid – in this case vegetable stock – nearby so you can stop the cooking quickly. It’s a baby step from toasted spice to scorched.
I added some of the usual suspects as toppers, but I think the real rock star here is the toasted garbanzo beans. You can buy them already toasted with a variety of spice blends. The crunch is the contrast this chili begs for. Tortilla chips or strips would do, as well. Chose a variety of color, textures and taste (creamy v spicy?) and trick it out the way you like it. Chef’s prerogative!
I’m filing this butternut squash chili recipe under D for Damn Delicious. The squash’s sweetness takes on smoked paprika, chili powder (brave enough to go Ancho?) and cumin – and wins. And the toasted garbanzo beans on top are the crunch this soup begs for.
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 Spanish onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cubed (7 cups)
1 quart vegetable stock
6 ounce can tomato paste
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 16 ounce cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Tortilla strips or dried garbanzo beans
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Heat olive oil in an 8-quart stockpot. Add onions and cook until browned, about 12 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika and cayenne. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
Add squash and about 1 cup of vegetable stock. Scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Add the remaining stock, tomato paste, tomatoes and their juices, and kidney beans.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender but not mushy, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Serve hot with assorted garnishes.
You can prep most of the ingredients while the onions are browning, so prep time shown is just to organize ingredients and chop the onions and garlic.
If you cut the squash lengthwise in half first, it is easier to peel. Using a sharp peeler, remove the skin, then scoop out the seeds. Your squash is ready to chop!
You say fritters? I say falafel? Whatever you do….do NOT call the whole thing off. Something about these little beauties just screams …”summer, she’s a-coming”. For me it’s the serious dose of herbs and lemon juice, my besties for brightening flavor. In this batch of chickpea fritters, you will find an easy-to-prep side dish that is the perfect date for all kinds of “grilled stuff”, as the sign at my favorite beach café in Anguilla advertises. (Uncle Ernie’s in Shoal Bay, if you are in the area! They also advertise fluffy towels and buoyant rafts. Clearly somebody has a thesaurus and knows how to use it.)
Long before the world had Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, my family had a bit of a weekly ritual that I think was aimed at giving Mom a light night. Normally the preparer of a real square with veggies AND salad AND meat AND potatoes, this night was more of a toaster oven extravaganza…straight from the freezer. Jimmy Dean sausage patties and apple fritters (which were pancake-shaped). She sometimes rustled up a batch of sausage gravy to go with. Not remotely our normal dining fare, but kind of a treat. That was my first experience with fritters. These bear little resemblance, unless you count shape, and in that case, they are exactly the same.
As I debate whether to call these fritters or pancakes, I lean toward fritter despite the absence of a vat of 375o oil (definitely not my style). But, they simply don’t have the flour/milk/egg batter that qualifies them as a pancake. But fear not! While ingredients-wise they are close cousins to the falafel, they are a clear fan-favorite over that deep-fried golf ball. A quick pan-sauté crisps up the tops and bottoms, leaving them moist and flavorful and begging for a serious dollop of Chili Dipping Sauce.
In the next post, I will share a grilled spicy shrimp that appears in some of these photos. But in the meantime, these chickpea fritters also make a great base for breakfast, topped with a couple sunny-side up eggs. And don’t forget the arugula and squash salad. It pairs well with all of the above.
These veggie fritters are chock-full of chickpeas, edamame and a serious handful of herbs. Serve with something right off the grill or top with eggs sunny-side up!
Edamame and Chickpea Fritters
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup edamame, thawed
4 scallions, cut in 1” pieces
3 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons panko
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg white
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Vegetable oil for sautéing
Chili Dipping Sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Make the fritters:
Place the chickpeas, edamame, scallions and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor. Process, pulsing 10-12 times until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the panko, flour, cumin, salt, baking soda, and pepper flakes.
Add the lemon juice, egg white, parsley and cilantro to the chickpea mixture. Stir in the dry mixture until well combined.
Form patties, using 1 Tablespoon measure.
Add enough vegetable oil to a sauté pan to cover the bottom and heat. Cook the patties over medium heat, in batches, turning after 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Drain on paper towels. Transfer patties to a sheet pan and hold in a warm oven.
Make the chili dipping sauce:
Whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, until serving time.
Dollop atop warm edamame and chickpea fritters.
The chili dipping sauce makes 1 cup and will keep, refrigerated and covered, for several weeks (not that you will have any left over!)
Muja what? I can hear you from here. Mujadara! You can spell it many ways and you can cook it even more. This dish – a combo of lentils and rice, sassed up with so many wintery spices that you will want it for your BFF – seems a lovely way to break bread and bow our heads in solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. #GreaterAs1 The culinary roots of mujadara date back to Genesis, when Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a meal of lentils. While the version I share here with yogurt and caramelized shallots is more Lebanese, the dish is also popular with Syrian and Egyptian Jews who historically tend to eat it twice during the week: a simple (hot) meal for Thursday before a more elaborate Shabbat, and then again cold on the Sabbath. Mujadara often serves as a Lenten dish for Arab Christians.
Some versions of mujadara let the caramelized onions do all the talking. But given it’s the coldest dreariest time of year, I have added all the wonderful pungent spices that you might find in other Middle-Eastern dishes: coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and plenty of pepper. Trust me; they will brighten your mood. When I can, in a dish like this, I use whole spices (not peppercorns, but cumin and coriander, yes!) Since they will be simmering in liquid for a while, there is sufficient time to soften them up. As usual, they get a few minutes in oil before the liquid to toast them and to allow the spices to release their fragrance. Rarely will I add any spice directly to liquid. I can always taste that raw spice in the back of my throat if I was in too big of a hurry to take that one measly moment that I needed to toast it. For shame.
You may also notice that I have added a healthy dose of greens to this version of mujadara. Because I can. And because it’s winter and because they are good for you and because they add a hit of color. I know it seems like a lot, but I have made it with half that and prefer it with a generous portion. Up to you. (More, more, more, more.)
And a note on the crispy shallots: they really are caramelized not crispy here. If you want to make crispy shallots – which would be a great texture contrast – you really need to use a lot more oil and fry them. That’s not really the way I roll, but I do love the taste and texture. If you are leaning that way, you should make sure the thinly sliced shallots are patted dry and then toss them in a 50/50 combo of flour and cornmeal. Heat several cups of oil to about 300oF and drop the shallots in, frying til crispy, draining on paper towels. I used to do something similar for a lentil salad at New World Grill and while we didn’t have a deep fryer – the horror – let’s just say our technique was not far off. I. Just. Can’t. (But by all means!)
Mujadara is a warm and wonderful combo of lentils and rice, sassed up with so many wintery spices that you will want it for your BFF.
1 1/4 cup brown or green lentils
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 shallots, very thinly sliced by hand or in a food processor
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup long-grain rice
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 bay leaf
2 5-ounce packages (about 8 cups) mixed greens, like kale, chard, and spinach, chopped
Zesty Yogurt Dip
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon whole coriander, toasted and coarsely cracked
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Zest of one lemon
2 Tablespoons chopped mint
Make the Mujadara:
Par-cook the lentils by simmering in a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water for 10 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and reserve the lentils.
Divide the olive oil, placing 2 Tablespoons in a large skillet and heat over medium. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and cook until well browned and crispy, about 30 minutes. As the shallots brown, remove and transfer to a paper towel and drain. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. If making this ahead, store wrapped in paper towel in an airtight container, once cooled.
Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a stockpot with a tight-fitting lid and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion to the stockpot, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in rice and sauté 2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon stick, allspice, black pepper, and cayenne; sauté for one minute until fragrant.
Add 2 cups water to the pot, along with the bay leaf, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the reserved lentils. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the lentils and rice are almost tender, about 15 minutes more.
Rinse the greens and distribute across the top of the rice and lentil mixture, checking to see if the rice/lentils require any more water. Cover and cook 5 minutes more, until rice and lentils are tender and greens are wilted. Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Stir to combine greens.
Make the Zesty Yogurt Dip:
Combine the yogurt, coriander, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. To serve, add the lemon zest and chopped mint.
Makes 1 cup.
Serve topped with crispy shallots and Zesty Yogurt Dip, along with warm pita.
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:60 minutes
This makes a great vegetarian entrée, but I took it to a friend’s who just happened to have a big ol’ pot of curried chicken thighs, and it was a match made in heaven. #damndelicious.
It’s last call for #NationalSoupMonth, and we are in the final countdown for Super Bowl LI. It seems like a good time to crack out a recipe I did for Cutty Sark Scotch – a Super Bowl campaign that involved scotch-laden wings, pigs, Kick Off Chili, cheesy bread bowls and more. Over the years, I have done more than my share of recipe development for liquor companies, but I am always particularly happy to do culinary recipes that go beyond the bar.
Sometimes the categories are wide open and I am on my own to get uber creative, and sometimes every last ounce of energy goes into meeting the numerous (inordinate?) parameters the client has identified. And other times, it’s a technical culinary challenge: find the perfect moment to add the alcohol. Add it too early and it cooks off with nary a trace; too late and it can be bitter or boozy. And, bitter and boozy is exactly what the messenger is thinking of me, when he rolls up with yet another bottle of my client’s elixir. It’s a dirty, rotten job, but somebody’s got to do it!
I have a little bit of a soft spot for Cutty Sark – my mother sometimes drank it….”Cutty and soda with a twist, for the lady,” my father would order. But not until this job did I consider adding it to chili. It is a remarkable improvement. The peaty flavors of scotch add a real depth of flavor and complexity that make this dish more than the sum of its parts. You can experiment with other brands or even other types of whisky, but like I said……the job………my mom….Cutty is what I always reach for.
You have let me know how fond you are of dump and stir recipes, so after the posole recipe, I figure I owe you. This chili is a snap to make. Other than draining the beef after browning, there is no heavy lifting. You will note that I am light on seasonings here – using all these convenience (read: canned) products means you are going to get more than your fair share of sodium. Personally, I have moved toward using low or no-sodium stock for most soups these days, but it’s the Super Bowl people….all bets are off!
This soup is perfect for a party. Make a tray of toppings and let guests add their favorites. #TouchDown
This is a spin on a recipe I once developed for Cutty Sark, as part of a Super Bowl campaign. The complex layering and depth of flavor which result from adding scotch to this dish have made it my go-to recipe when making a hearty winter chili.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 1/2 pounds ground round
3 Tablespoons chili powder
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, and their juices
3 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 ounce can beef broth
3/4 cup Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Toppings and Serving Suggestions:
Warm Flour or Corn Tortillas
Heat oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.
Turn burner to high heat and add ground round, breaking into large chunks. Cook until browned, about 10 – 12 minutes; drain off any liquid.
Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and stir for 1 – 2 minutes to toast spices.
Add tomatoes, beans, beef broth, scotch, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 10 minutes
Category:Soups & Stews
Cuisine:South of the Border
It’s the last day of #NationalSoupMonth and Super Bowl is fast approaching – so shout it out!