Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Turnip Green and Roasted Acorn Squash "Empanadas"

Mark Post!

Hello Friends - Yes, sometimes the mood strikes me and I dare to experiment in the kitchen.

On this occasion we were watching Top Chef and I was kind of bored. Wendy had an idea the other day to stuff steamed Kale leaves with spiced sweet potatoes and black beans, and with that fresh in my mind I entered the kitchen to look around for some unused goodies.

We had some acorn squash which we've had for a while. I got the idea to roast it and decided to roast some garlic while I was at it. I cut the squash in half, spooned out the seeds and "stringy-ness" within, and placed them in a little teflon coated roasting pan. They went into the oven at 450 degrees for an hour. In a smaller oven-safe dish I put 3 garlic cloves.

While those roasted away I looked for some green to use in the fridge. I didn't find kale, but I did find some turnip greens. I set up a soup pot and steamer basket, then steamed the leaves one at a time until they were tender enough to use as wraps, but not so steamed as to be mushy and unusable. I set the leaves aside on a paper towel, stacked up and drying.

To add some bulk to my recipe I pulled out the single remaining poblano pepper leftover from this weekend's stuffed peppers. I also grabbed a large onion, halved it, and then proceeded to chop both into tiny squares, about a half centimeter wide. I put some olive oil in a skillet and let them sweat for a while before cranking the heat all the way up to put a slight char on them.

By the time I finished my leisurely steaming and sauteing, which included long stretches of Top Chef watching, the roasted squash and garlic was ready to come out of the oven. I let them cool for 5 minutes, then while they were still a bit hot to handle I used tongs and my fingers to peel off the skin and also removed the overly browned spots on the inside of the squash. I cut them in half once more and then added them to a large mixing bowl with the roasted garlic. I got out my potato-masher, added a dollop of ghee from the fridge, and then mashed away until I had pulpy goodness.

Then it was seasoning time. I learn the most from watching Wendy do her thing, and she recently added some crushed cloves to some chili, which I thought was really interesting when mixed with the kind of cumin, chili powder flavors we typically use. So I put in a "shake" of cloves, cumin, and also cheyenne pepper. After folding in the seasoning, it was time to finish up my mix by stirring in the onion and poblano.

I then had my mix and my leaves. All that was left was the plating. I decided to set down my greens with the spine face down on the plate, then laid out the filling, pinching it into a tight column before folding in the "tail"and folding the sides up into a turnip green "Empanada" of sorts.

The final product was beautiful, surprisingly tasty with a complex flavor, some nice crunch because of the spine and pepper/onion mix, and a low but lasting heat from the poblano and cheyenne pepper.

The cloves actually read well, which was a refreshing surprise.

wf note: These were really good. I love it when my little darling gets inspired to get in the kitchen. I try to stay out of it for the most part because I tend to be a little overbearing when I'm head chef. I'll answer simple questions if he has them, but I try to physically stay out of the kitchen because I tend to get a little Kate Gosslin sometimes. He did really well and this was a nice healthy snack for our Top Chef viewing.

Our week of vegetarianism is going pretty well except for one slip-up that was totally uncalled for, but we both consented to it. We enable each other, me and this boy. However, come tomorrow afternoon, I'll be shoving bacon in my mouth by the handfuls. Not really. Surprisingly, I haven't had any cravings or anything, but I will be glad to be eating someone else's food. We're going to Basil, my favorite restaurant in Nashville as of late. We went there last weekend with the sibs and I realized that I couldn't remember our last trip to a restaurant, minus some CADs we had gift cards for. We have literally cooked all of our meals for months except for a couple of take-out nights from Baja Burrito. Between the two of us, we couldn't remember our last meal out at a "sit down" restaurant--other than when I was in Rome, GA for a conference with Liz. I get so tired of my own food I've been skipping meals lately (which can't be too bad as could stand to lose some weight).

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